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A resume is a document used to introduce an applicant to an employer and present the applicant's background in a way that successfully markets the benefits that person can bring to the workplace. While there is no standard format for creating a resume, they conventionally contain a brief summary of relevant work experience and education plus additional information that may help strengthen an applicant's image. The primary goal of an employment resume is to attract the attention of a potential employer and attain an interview.

The document usually comprises no more than three pages and focuses on the background of an applicant that is specifically relevant to the position for which is being applied. Additionally, many resumes are filled with specific keywords, typically words appearing in the job posting, which highlight an applicant's relevance to a specific position. Resume are also constructed to cast the applicant as beneficial to the larger company and centers on how the applicant can help the company grow.

One of the most common formats for effective resumes is reverse chronology. This lists an applicant's educational and work experience in reverse order dating back up to 15 years. Education is listed with the most recently attained (and typically most advanced) degree at the top. Similarly, work experience is listed with the current and/or most recent job first. All experience lists the start and stop dates for each item.

An alternative format, called the functional resume, separates experience by skill area or function. The focus of a functional job resume is to spotlight the specific skills and experience that are especially relevant to the sought after position. Functional resumes are most often used for applicants transitioning between careers or for those with little to no recent work experience.