A good resume is an essential part of your job search
The purpose of a resume is to present you as a potential candidate with the necessary qualifications to meet the job specifications. It is your advertising or marketing tool designed to sell the employer on your strongest qualifications for a particular position or type of employment. It should be well written, error free and present your accomplishments favorably.
It is always to your benefit to have a job description for each position that you are seeking, so that you may tailor your resume to the job requirements.
Your resume is a summary of your personal data, your educational background and training, your professional experience and qualifications. It is not a detailed work history or an autobiography.
YOUR RESUME SHOULD BE:
Brief: Limit your resume to one page and list only those experiences and achievements relevant to the type of position.
Well organized: Make sure your resume is easy to follow. Choose headings that best describe the content of the section. Rank information from most relevant to least relevant.
- Easy to skim: Write using fragments instead of sentences, and use bullets to highlight key points. Employers will review your resume in 15-20 seconds so it is vital that they are able to locate the most pertinent information quickly and easily.
- Visually attractive: Create a positive impression. Use consistent margins, generous spacing, and a crisp typeface that is easy to read (avoid script or decorative fonts). Use bold and italic fonts to help guide the readers’ eye throughout the resume. If you are printing your resume, use a laser printer or high quality copier and white or light color high quality paper.
- Correct: Be 100 percent honest and positive. Never falsify or exaggerate information. Pay close attention to your grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Use the spell checker on your computer, proofread your final draft, and have a fresh set of eyes proofread.
There are multiple format types when it comes to resumes. Click on each one below to learn more about it or click on our comparison chart at the bottom for a quick guide.
- Presents information in reverse order, most recent experience listed first
- Offers concise picture of you as a potential employee
- Easy to write
- Emphasizes steady employment record
- Format is familiar
- Calls attention to employment gaps
- Skills are difficult to spot unless they’re listed in the most recent job
- To emphasize past career growth and development
- When continuing in the same career
- When the name of former employer may be significant to prospective employer
Don't Use If:
- There are gaps in your work history
- Calling attention to your age could be a problem
- You’ve changed jobs often
- You’re entering the job market for first time or after a long absence
- Focuses on specific strengths and skills important to employers
- Focus on skills, not history
- De-emphasizes a spotty work history
- No detailed work history
- Content may appear to lack depth
- May create suspicion you are hiding something
- When entering the job market or when reentering after a long absence
- When work experience has been varied or unrelated
- When changing careers
- When primarily consulting or doing freelance work
Don't Use If:
- You want to emphasize growth or development
- Responsibilities and functions in recent jobs were limited
- All the flexibility and strength of the functional and chronological combined
- Shows off a strong employment record with upward mobility
- Showcases relevant skills and abilities and supportive employment record
- Emphasizes transferable skills
- Work history is often on the second page and employer may not read that far
- When shorter functional format would be too sketchy to offer a complete picture of abilities and work history
Don't Use If:
- Experience is limited
- There are wide gaps in work history
- Allows for focused resumes that target skills
- Skills are listed briefly and at the beginning of the resume
- Easy for employer to scan and find skills
- May be redundant information to include keywords at the top of your resume
- Still an unfamiliar format to many employers
- For all scannable systems of job screening
- For new graduates or those reentering the work place or changing careers
Don't Use If:
- There is rarely a time you cannot use this variation. It can be used in combination with any or all of the other formats
- Highly focused document aimed at a particular job
- A “capsule” of work experience
- Brief and direct
- Easy to read
- May focus too tightly on one particular job
- Content may appear sparse
- When job target is specific
- When you need separate resumes for different career paths
Don't Use If:
- You aren’t prepared to put the effort into writing an excellent resume
A resume is a marketing tool, that is likely to be evaluated in less than 20 seconds, therefore, you want to make sure your resume is concise, easy to read, and attractive. Follow these quick resume tips to create a competitive and effective resume that is sure to get you noticed.
- Select the right type of paper (Use 8 ½ by 11 inch, light in color, 24-28 pound bond paper).
- Limit the length of your resume to one page.
- Balance your resume on the page with all margins being at least ½ inch. One-inch margins are preferred.
- Tailor your resume to each job – one resume does not fit all jobs!
- Select the format that best highlights your skills and experience.
- Organize your information in order of importance from the employers’ perspective.
- Include relevant information only.
- Resume language is short, concise, to-the point, action-oriented, and results-oriented.
- Use present tense for your current position and past tense for past experiences.
- Use ACTION words — for a list of words visit our web page.
- Phrases are recommended over complete sentences.
- Avoid the use of the pronoun “I.”
- Limit bold, underlined and italic type.
- No more than two font styles.
- Font size should not go below 10 point or above 14 point.
- Emphasize by CAPITALIZING and using bullets.
- Emphasize accomplishments.
- Create white space and visually pleasing formats.
- Design for easy skimming.
- Use specifications and numbers.
- Give examples to illustrate skills/traits.
- Proofread, proofread, and proofread!
Not all students will have the same content areas on their resumes. You will include, combine, or leave out sections, and choose heading names for them, based on your particular background.
- Contact Information
- Additional Sections
- Give your full name, complete mailing address, phone number (with area code), and email address.
- Make sure you get messages consistently from any phone number listed on your resume and that your voicemail greeting is professional.
- Include an email address, but choose one that sounds professional. Addresses such as SweetBABE@yahoo.com or BullsRule@hotmail.com will not inspire employees to take you seriously. It is recommended to create a separate job search account and check it daily.
There is much controversy surrounding the use of a career objective statement. Some believe if it is too focused or narrowly defined, it may limit your opportunities. However Employment Services suggests you include one for the following reasons:
- Employers can readily identify the position you are seeking or where your skills could be utilized to their full potential.
- From a marketing standpoint, you appear to be more focused.
- Finally, many companies do not accept "unsolicited" resumes and want an objective that clearly states the position that you are seeking. This is to your advantage so that your resume is forwarded to the proper hiring manager.
- List your most recent educational information first. (Reverse chronological order.)
- Only include high school information, if it has been three or less years since graduation.
- State your GPA if it is 3.0 or above.
- List your program, anticipated graduation date, name and location (city and state) of each institution.
- You may mention academic honors here, or in a separate section if they are numerous.
In addition to full-time and part-time jobs, include relevant experiences such as clinicals, internships, and community involvement. Be sure to include the position title and/or a brief statement of responsibilities and achievements, dates of employment, and name and location of employer. If you lack experience, focus on skills you have gained through other activities such as class projects or student organizations.
How much work experience do you put on a resume?
There's no set rule when on how much work experience to put on a resume, but here's a good guideline for you:
List up to 15 years of relevant work experience
Junior- to mid-level candidates
Include detailed job descriptions of relevant positions in your field and a brief mention of other positions: internships, temporary gigs, freelancing
List and describe all paid work you’ve ever done, including internships, part-time or temporary work, freelancing, independent projects
Candidates with no professional work experience
Include all paid and unpaid work experience: roles in student organizations, practicums, unpaid internships, volunteer experience
This section can be used to highlight skills most likely to be employed in the position you seek and important to your targeted employers. The inclusion of computer skills is increasingly important in today’s job markets, as well as second language skills. A list of qualities and skills can be found on our website.
There are many possible section headings based on the experiences and skills you would like to highlight. Here are just a few possibilities. You can find more examples of section headings at the online Career Connection Resource center under Resume Section Headings and Titles.
- Extracurricular activities
- Do not include “References available upon request” on your resume.
- References should appear on a separate sheet from the actual resume. Use the same name and contact information that you prepared for the resume and then simply use the section heading references.
- Choose your references with care. Look for people who honestly know you, and will speak objectively.
- Before creating your reference list, contact your reference, request permission to use them as a reference, and provide them pertinent information about the position you are seeking.
- List three to five references, preferably from different sources. Generally speaking, four types of references can be called upon for recommendations:
- Work Related: Includes past employers, coworkers, subordinates or clients who can speak about your specific employment experience. You can also list the people for whom you perform volunteer activities, babysitting, lawn mowing, and other odd jobs.
- Professional: People who know you on a professional basis such as contacts from clubs, or professional and community organizations.
- Academic: Instructors and school counselors who can speak about your academic endeavors (appropriate for current students or recent graduates).
- Personal: Only use a personal reference if you have no work-related, professional or academic ones to offer. Friends and neighbors who know you personally and who can describe your self-management skills are effective. Use the names of people who can tell an employer you can be depended on to do a good job.
- Take references with you to the initial interview unless references are specifically requested at the time of your application.
- Well-prepared references can make the difference between getting an offer or a letter of rejection.
- Send your references a thank you note when you know they have given you a recommendation.
- Include the following information:
- Company Name
- ZIP Code