Your resume is a summary of your qualifications for a specific type of work and a marketing tool to pre-sell you to employers. It is the most important written tool in your job search because it creates the reader's first impression of you.
Important uses for your resume:
- To generate interviews with employers.
- To enclose with applications, cover letters, and inquiries to employers.
- To give to professional and personal contacts, friends, relatives, classmates, alumni, and former employers who might be able to assist you.
- To provide as a courtesy and an aid to those persons who will act as your references.
Counseling, Career & Transfer Services has a variety of resources to help you develop your resume:
- A counselor is available to assist you in every phase of the process from beginning to final draft.
- You can sign up for one of the resume workshops.
- Our College and Career Information Center (CCIC) has reference books and sample resumes that will provide helpful information.
Contents of this page:
- Organizing Your Resume
- Possible Sections of a Resume
- Your Final Draft
- Resumes for the Cyber World
- Action Verbs for Resume Preparation
- Dos and Don'ts
It is important to organize your resume in a manner that highlights your greatest strengths. Choose sections that showcase your qualifications. Order your sections with the most important or impressive information first. Pick a format that enables employers to visually scan the page and quickly gather the most critical information.
Possible Sections of a Resume Below is a list of categories that can be included on your resume. The sections that you choose to include will depend on your objectives, qualifications and your experience.
Contact Information Include your name, address, phone number, and your E-mail address if you use it regularly. If you have two addresses, list both and indicate temporary and permanent.
Objective An objective on your resume is optional but it can be helpful if it concisely describes your immediate employment goal. Include the kind of job desired with a brief, specific description. Be brief and do not use full sentences. If you have two or more kinds of jobs that you are considering, write resumes with different objectives for each. Examples:
- An entry management position with potential for advancement.
- A public relations position, which utilizes my communication and sales
Qualifications Summary The summary statement alerts the reader to your marketable skills and strengths. Use key words, industry specific terms and skills that convey, in a brief yet powerful statement what you have to offer to an employer (see resume samples). You may include either an objective or a summary qualification section on your resume.
Education Identify your degree, area of study, name of educational institution, and graduation date or anticipated graduation date. You may include GPA (if 3.0 or better), names of some courses, internships, and honors courses if they support your employment objective. High school information is not necessary when college data is listed.
Experience If you want to emphasize your work experience, each position should have a separate entry. Include your job title, name of the organization, location, and dates you worked. Next provide concise phrases that describe your most important and impressive responsibilities. Focus on the skills. Start each phrase with an action verb (see list) instead of a subject - the subject is implied. This section does not need to include every position you have had. Typically, convey no more than the last ten years of experience.
Professional Skills If you have not had substantial work experience, or you have developed many of your pertinent professional skills in non-employment settings, you will probably want to include a Professional Skills section. Develop three or four categories of skills. Come up with as many skills as you can that fall into these categories. You can also use the PROGRAM SKILLS LISTS available in the Counseling, Career & Transfer Services Office to generate an extensive skills list. Later you can decide on the most important ones to actually include in the resume. (See sample resumes at the end of this booklet.)
Program Skills Lists Available: Accounting, business administration, communications, computer graphics, computer information systems, construction technology, criminal justice, electrical technology, hotel and restaurant management, human services, paralegal, office management & administration
Employment History If you are emphasizing your professional skills and do not have an Experience section, create a section that lists employment history. Include your job title, name of organization, location, dates of employment. No other details need to be included. Potential employers will see that you have been employed.
Other Headings You may wish to include one or more of the following categories when appropriate:. Honors, Leadership, Languages, Professional Affiliations, Travel, Volunteer Activities, Relevant Course Work
You will revise your resume several times before it is ready for distribution. After completing the first draft, check for spelling, content, and layout errors. Have several people proofread your final draft. A resume's appearance is just as important as its content. Make it perfect! When you are sure that it is ready, print your resume on high-quality paper.
As the world of work becomes more technologically oriented, more organizations offer the option of submitting resumes over the Internet. Not all resume-posting sites are the same, so keep these tips in mind when submitting your resume electronically:
- Follow the specific directions of that site. Some sites ask that you fill out a form; others ask you to attach your resume to an E-mail.
- Unless you are otherwise advised, write your resume in plain text before submitting it on line. Use Courier or another standard font and remove bold, underline, and italics. You may also choose to convert your resume to ASCII text (the most basic, readable format).
- When sending your resume through E-mail, use a format the recipient can read. Not all E-mail programs can read attachments. If in doubt, send your resume as part of the E-mail message and not as an attachment.
- If possible follow up by mailing a hard copy of your resume.
Many organizations rely on computer scanning technology to process resumes faster, to store information on applicants, and to match applicants to job descriptions. The computer reads each resume and creates a list of applicants' skills, degrees, and achievements. This list of words is then used to match applicants to appropriate positions.
The ideal scannable resume is filled with keywords that emphasize your accomplishments and skills. Review job postings to identify key words in your field. Whereas 'eye appeal' is important for conventional resumes, simplicity is the key for scannable resumes. Develop your scannable resume with the following points in mind:
- Keep it simple, specific, and very concrete.
- Use boldface for emphasis. Italics, all capital letters, and underlining cause problems for the scanner, especially if combined.
- Avoid using vertical or horizontal lines. If used, leave at least a quarter of an inch of space around the line.
- Avoid graphics, shading, or shadowing.
- Do not compress or expand the space between letters or lines.
- Do not double space within sections.
- Keep resumes flat. Resumes, that have been folded, stapled, or otherwise mutilated, will not scan well.
- Laser-print your resume and use the original or reproduce it on a high-quality copier. A sharp image will make it easier for the scanner to read. Avoid dot-matrix text.
- Use standard fonts such as Times, Helvetica, Palatino, Courier, in size 12-14 points for text and heading.
- Place your name at the top of each page on a separate line.
- List each phone number on its own line.
When describing skills and experience use action verbs as much as possible. Words like implemented, generated, directed, motivated, planned, managed, researched, organized, communicated, and designed indicate what you have accomplished in a way that employers can see how you could help them. For a more extensive list of action verbs, see the hard copy of this brochure in our office.
References are people who have known you professionally, academically, or personally and can recommend you for a job. Supervisors, professors, and people from your community are common examples of good references. Avoid using family members – they tend to be biased!
Before listing anyone as a reference, you should ask his or her permission. When you give a list of references to a prospective employer, make sure you call each reference to tell them who will be calling, what job you have applied for, and what skills you would like them to emphasize.
Do not include references on the resume. Create a separate page that includes the name, title, business address, phone number and E-mail address of each of your 3-5 references. You can also collect letters of recommendation and provide them if the employer requests them.
Selected Resources in the CCIC
- The Resume Catalog: 200 Damn Good Examples
- The Damn Good Resume Guide
- Gallery of Best Resumes for Two-Year Degree Graduates
- Do stress your assets, highlight your qualifications, and make sure the employer gets to know what you have to offer.
- Do keep your resume relevant and up-to-date.
- Do make sure it is well written. Have it proofread by several different people.
- Do be consistent in format (i.e., indentation, capitalization, font and spacing).
- Do use underline or boldface to highlight important points.
- Do leave at least one inch of margin space and avoid abbreviations.
- Do try to fit your resume on one page, unless doing so would mean leaving off information about yourself that relates directly to the job.
- Do be accurate in the facts you give.
- Do begin phrases with action verbs in the past tense, except current positions, which should be described in the present tense.
- Do use high-quality 8½" x 11" bond paper in a white, ivory, or light gray color.
- Do purchase matching stationery and envelopes for your job search correspondence.