Not all resumes are created equal. In a sense, this is too bad because then hiring decisions could be made purely based on merit. However, until that day, it is important for you to create a resume that is going to rise above the rest. You can’t rely on your qualifications alone, your resume has got to act as an advocate for you. Think of it as a little creature who gets to go in to the boss’s office while she’s looking through resumes and whisper, “pssst…pay attention to this one!”
You would want your imaginary assistant to then be able to follow up by showing your potential employer something they would want to look at. You have about 10 seconds from the time the recruiter first looks at your resume until they have formed their impression of you.
That’s not very much time, so you have got to make it easy for them to spot your best qualities – in fact, you’ve got to make them impossible to miss. You can be more subtle after that first impression, but you’ll never get the second look if you don’t draw them in right away. There are a lot of different ideas about how you can do that and you will want to carefully consider which of them might be right for you, because, unfortunately, using all of them will simply further confuse your message (and potentially alarm your future employer).
The key here is in the title: writing your resume – you are working on creating a document that will do its very best to represent you in the best possible light. Don’t feel obligated by any conventions or hard rules that you may either have imagined or that others have given to you (except for this rule about not feeling obligated…) this resume is your document. You can use samples as a guideline but truly, the best resume is one that accurately conveys your individual message and makes it stand out. After all, nobody has ever gotten an award for a perfectly formatted resume unless it also was perfectly informative. And the reward? A job, of course!
And don't forget: different industries have different standards for judging resumes. Sometimes you need to play by those rules and sometimes it’s by bending them a bit that you will get the attention you are looking for. There’s always a risk in trying something new, but the rewards may be great enough that it is worth it. Read this article for more information on Writing an Academic Resume.