There are at least a dozen standard formats that can be used to prepare your resume. As long as your resume contains the basic information required and is easy to read the format will neither win nor lose you the race to get your resume noticed. Fancy colors and fonts do not impress software designed to select resumes based on key word search.
Key word search
Even before key words became important for search engines on the internet recruiters were using software to search on key words to find appropriate resumes on their database and to sort through thousands of applications in response to print ads.
Study the advertisement to identify the keywords in the listed requirements. Make sure you use those words when describing your employment history, experience or education. You may have a better way of describing it but save that for the interview.
If you don’t use the key words your resume may never be seen by a human recruiter. You don’t need to stuff your resume with repetition of key words, simply use them in the appropriate places.
Once you make it past the technology a person will read your resume. Many standard formats particularly those used by recent graduates start with a career objective. What this tells the recruiter or employer is what they can do for you. It does not tell them what you can do for them.
You need to tell the employer why they should choose you over the hundreds of other applicants with the same qualifications. Instead of stating what your objective is target the employer’s objective. Use a skills summary as an opening to your resume and highlight your special talents that will add value to the employer’s team.
Compare the following introductions to a resume.
Skills summary: “John is a talented graphic designer with a flair for understanding and interpreting people’s needs. He thrives in a demanding environment and manages competing priorities to ensure deadlines are met.”
Career objective: “John would like to continue to build on his experience and become a team leader in the next three to five years. Eventually John would like to lead a design department in a large company.”
In both cases the paragraphs introduce John the person however the first describes what John can do for the employer, the second what the employer can do for John.
A resume is a sales tool. As with any sale you must meet the basic requirements of the buyer but once you have done this the only way to beat your competition is to sell the benefits of your product. Give the employer a reason to choose you above all others by focusing first on what you can do for them.