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Choose the Best Resume Structure

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  • List and describe the three recommended resume structures.
  • Explain the importance of focusing on relevant skills and experience.
  • Explain the importance of quantifying experience.

The Best Format for the Job

Linda sits down at her laptop and opens a couple of tech-specific samples and a template. Excited about the job, all of a sudden she’s thinking about what questions they’ll ask her in the interview. What new feature she saw at Dreamforce can she rave about? She has a pair of clean Cloud Kicks herself. She should wear those to the interview!

Linda in front of a computer with a thought bubble and question mark.

It’s been less than a minute, but she snaps back and realizes that there’s a more fundamental step that she needs to focus on—which resume structure works best for her application. Let’s review the different types.

Chronological

The most common resume structure is chronological. It sounds like a fancy stopwatch, but it’s simply a resume with your most recent experience first. Then, it works backward. Something like this:

Linda Rosenberg

Oakland, CA
(510) ###-####
email address

Summary

A solutions-focused Salesforce admin. Passionate about process automation, collaboration, and enablement.

Professional History

University, Salesforce Administrator
Month Year – Present

  • Manage Salesforce recruitment app for University
  • Project manage new functionality
  • Collaborate across front and back office to establish clear and repeatable processes

University, Office Assistant
Month Year – Month Year

  • Used Salesforce recruitment app to process university recruitment candidates
  • Recommend changes to process, new functions, and reports
  • Customer service: field calls from recruitment candidates

Education

Awesome University
BS, Computer Science

Skills and Certifications

Salesforce Admin Certified
Trailhead Ranger, Business Administration Specialist, Process Automation Specialist 

The chronological format is best if you have a consistent job history and increasing job level. In the example above, Linda shows that she has Salesforce admin experience. She also shows that she has experience as a Salesforce user before that.

Let’s explore another scenario and another format. What if Linda has little professional experience or gaps in her experience? Maybe she’s switching careers, but still wants to show off the skills she’s gained? This is where the functional resume comes in handy.

Functional

The functional resume is aptly named—it helps you highlight the skills and values you have that relate directly to the job function. Let’s remember she’s a Ranger on Trailhead with several Superbadges (yay!). Did we mention that she’s spent a couple of years participating in a local user group, helping organize and advising on specific projects and challenges? All of this matters.

Functional resumes require some time and creativity in order to highlight the right skills. But in the end, they look like this:

Linda Rosenberg

Oakland, CA
(510) ###-####
email address

Summary

Specializing in business administration and automation. 2+ years Salesforce advocate, advising at the local Salesforce user group. Passionate about process automation, collaboration, and enablement.

Areas of Experience

Sales Cloud, Apex and declarative development, Lightning UI, process automation, requirements gathering and application design, user enablement, reports and dashboards.

Skills

Application Customization
Established declarative and coding best practices for 10+ Salesforce administrators. Advised on special projects ranging from requirements gathering to deployment.

Process Automation
Process review and automation recommendations. Helped automate 100 processes to date, saving organizations thousands of hours.

BAM
Paying it forward. Enabling Salesforce admins and users using BAM methodology. Host monthly hour of code workshop and quarterly student workshop at university.

Education

Awesome University
BS, Computer Science

Certifications

Salesforce Admin Certified
Trailhead Ranger, Business Administration Specialist, Process Automation Specialist

Notice in this example, Linda has spent significant focus clarifying and quantifying her experience. She calls out her support of 10+ admins and automating 100 processes. No matter what resume structure you choose, if you can quantify your experience, do it. This emphasizes your expertise and helps your resume stand out.

Combination

The combination format takes the best of both worlds—highlighting a consistent job history as well as calling out relevant skills upfront. This is especially useful for early career professionals with 1–3 years of job experience and recent graduates (high school or university) with minimal work history.

When looking at her options, Linda finds that this is the best for her. So she revises her resume and feels good about it.

Linda Rosenberg

Oakland, CA
(510) ###-####
email address

Summary

Specializing in business administration and automation. 2+ years Salesforce administrator and advisor at the local Salesforce user group. Passionate about process automation, collaboration, and enablement.

Skills and Expertise

Process automation, business administration, Apex and declarative development, user enablement, reports and dashboards, BAM! Be A Multiplier.

Professional History

University, Salesforce Administrator
Month Year – Present

  • Manage Salesforce recruitment app for University
  • Introduced process automation, eliminating 10+ manual processes and saving 400+ hours of manual work a year
  • Project managed new functionality from requirements gathering and design to code/declarative development and deployment, resulting in 15 custom objects and 20% adoption improvement
  • Collaborate across front and back office to establish clear and repeatable process for requesting new function/function change and enablement

Local Salesforce User Group Co-Organizer
Month Year – Present

  • Established declarative and coding best practices for 10+ Salesforce administrators
  • Process review and automation recommendations, supporting the automation of more than 100 processes to date
  • Enabling Salesforce admins and users using BAM methodology
    • Host monthly hour of code workshop
    • Host quarterly student workshop at university

Education

Awesome University
BS, Computer Science

Certifications

Salesforce Admin Certified
Trailhead Ranger, Business Administration Specialist, Process Automation Specialist

In the end, Linda chose to remove her office assistant experience. While it was somewhat Salesforce-related, she realized it had little to do with actual administration work. Sometimes, a specific experience feels relevant and you want to add it. But over the course of writing and editing your resume, it can become clear that some things aren’t relevant to the job. If it doesn’t affect the structure of your resume, it’s best to minimize it or even cut it altogether.

From Big to Small

The format feels right. Experience is highlighted. But it’s not quite time to submit your resume. 

Remember, it’s important to make your resume stand out. Since we’ve covered the big ideas, it’s time to focus on the words themselves.

Resources