Time to Eliminate Confusion: Call for Standardization of Resume Formats

Time to Eliminate Confusion: Call for Standardization of Resume Formats
People applying for jobs come in so many different facets in terms of what they offer in experience, skills, education, experience, and achievements that it is positively dazzling. One thing I have learned in the years I have been working with clients is EVERYONE offers an employer several valuable skills…but the difficulty lies (in the employers' eyes) in finding the best fit for the position for which they are hiring. But there is a huge obstacle in the way. Job applicants have a long way to go in understanding how to write their career credentials. Some of this can be attributed to simple lack of training in developing critical career materials. But there is a bigger problem than that. The real issue is there are too many myths and conflicting arguments from the human resource side on how resumes should be developed. One HR professional provides feedback to a job seeker to revise their document only to have a different HR person tell the candidate that they like the first format better. Is it any wonder that job seekers are not only confused, but frustrated? What we need is a proactive effort to help provide trusted advice on how applicants can reliably prepare their credentials in a way employers can not only accept but also digest. I'd like to issue a radical challenge to the human resources sector (Attention: Society for Human Resource Management leadership): Come up with accepted resume formats HR folks can agree on that can be in turn be communicated to job seekers. Think about how much EASIER everyone's job would be if we all knew the expectations for writing career credentials.
  • Job seekers can have a go-to resource on how to prepare their materials.
  • Career centers and one-stop job retraining centers can have up to date information on employer / HR expectations in developing resumes.
  • Human resource professionals have a much easier time going through resumes because the format has become standardized.
I know that there will be some folks who will say that how can we try to pound candidates into round holes - not everyone is going to fit. What I am proposing isn't a strict format, as in: You will write your resume "this way," but instead, provide a SHRM-sponsored recommended format that provides human resource insight on what to include and where to include it on a resume. This would eliminate so much confusion among job seekers. Heck, even some of the human resource clients I have worked with who are looking for jobs are confused themselves on the formatting! The careers and human resource industries need to do a much better job of clarifying the expectations of what should and should not be included in a resume to help eliminate a guessing game which may or may not exclude people because they simply got confused by which was the "right" format to use. I would love to hear from human resource professionals on what they think. Would this work? Would standardization make your job easier? Give you want you need to know in order to make an informed decision on applicants? What are your thoughts? Dawn Rasmussen, CMP, is the president of Portland, Oregon-based Pathfinder Writing and Career Services. Clients from across the United States and Canada and from all career levels have benefited from Dawn's highly-focused and results-oriented resume, cover letter, and job search coaching services.