What is a resume?
Resumes are what people use to get jobs, right? Wrong!
A resume is a one or two page summary of your education, skills, accomplishments, and experience. Your resume's purpose is to get your foot in the door. A resume does its job successfully if it does not exclude you from consideration.
To prepare a successful resume, you need to know how to review, summarize, and present your experiences and achievements on one page. Unless you have considerable experience, you don't need two pages. Outline your achievements briefly and concisely.
Your resume is your ticket to an interview where you can sell yourself!
How to Prepare an Effective Resume
1. Resume Essentials
Before you write, take time to do a self-assessment on paper. Outline your skills and abilities as well as your work experience and extracurricular activities. This will make it easier to prepare a thorough resume.
2. The Content of Your Resume
Name, address, telephone, e-mail address, web site address
All your contact information should go at the top of your resume.
- Avoid nicknames.
- Use a permanent address. Use your parents' address, a friend's address, or the address you plan to use after graduation.
- Use a permanent telephone number and include the area code. If you have an answering machine, record a neutral greeting.
- Add your e-mail address. Many employers will find it useful. (Note: Choose an e-mail address that sounds professional.)
- Include your web site address only if the web page reflects your professional ambitions.
Objective or Summary
An objective tells potential employers the sort of work you're hoping to do.
- Be specific about the job you want. For example: To obtain an entry-level position within a financial institution requiring strong analytical and organizational skills.
- Tailor your objective to each employer you target/every job you seek.
New graduates without a lot of work experience should list their educational information first. Alumni can list it after the work experience section.
- Your most recent educational information is listed first.
- Include your degree (A.S., B.S., B.A., etc.), major, institution attended, minor/concentration.
- Add your grade point average (GPA) if it is higher than 3.0.
- Mention academic honors.
Briefly give the employer an overview of work that has taught you skills. Use action words to describe your job duties. Include your work experience in reverse chronological order—that is, put your last job first and work backward to your first, relevant job. Include:
- Title of position,
- Name of organization
- Location of work (town, state)
- Dates of employment
- Describe your work responsibilities with emphasis on specific skills and achievements.
A staff member at your career services office can advise you on other information to add to your resume. You may want to add:
- Key or special skills or competencies,
- Leadership experience in volunteer organizations,
- Participation in sports.
Ask people if they are willing to serve as references before you give their names to a potential employer.
Do not include your reference information on your resume. You may note at the bottom of your resume: "References furnished on request."
3. Resume Checkup
You've written your resume. It's time to have it reviewed and critiqued by a career counselor. You can also take the following steps to ensure quality:
- Run a spell check on your computer before anyone sees your resume.
- Get a friend (an English major would do nicely) to do a grammar review.
- Ask another friend to proofread. The more people who see your resume, the more likely that misspelled words and awkward phrases will be seen (and corrected).
These tips will make your resume easier to read and/or scan into an employer's data base.
- Use white or off-white paper.
- Use 8-1/2- x 11-inch paper.
- Print on one side of the paper.
- Use a font size of 10 to 14 points.
- Use nondecorative typefaces.
- Choose one typeface and stick to it.
- Avoid italics, script, and underlined words.
- Do not use horizontal or vertical lines, graphics, or shading.
- Do not fold or staple your resume.
- If you must mail your resume, put it in a large envelope.
Use action words to describe your experience and accomplishments. Here are some actions words to use:
- set up
What Employers Want
Employers say they are impressed by job candidates who have excellent communication skills, good grooming habits, and relevant work experience. Employers say they want trustworthy new hires who can move right in, get along with their co-workers, and get the job done without having to be babied at each step.
Top 10 Qualities Employers Seek
- Communication skills (verbal and written)
- Teamwork skills (works well with others)
- Interpersonal skills (relates well to others)
- Strong work ethic
- Analytical skills
- Computer skills
- Organizational skills
COMMON MISTAKES, DO'S & DON'TS
- Name and/or address is too small / too big (headings and name should be at least font size 14 to 16; address 11 or 12)
- Font size for entire resume is too small / too big / all caps (not counting the headings, text should be no smaller than 11; no larger than 12)
- Needs an Objective or Title Heading (make it clear to the reader what position you are seeking. If you unsure, consider career counseling or purchase/rent a book on career choices)
- Could use a Summary or Profile statement (show your career overview)
- Objective is weak, cliché, unclear, or vague (State what you can do for the employer; not only what you want from them)
- Resume does not support Objective (be sure to make a connection)
- Lacks accomplishments / career achievements (sell it, don't tell it!)
- Lacks industry-specific terminology / Keywords ("speak" the reader's language)
- Jobs are not in the proper order-see below for more on resume tips and formats
- Sentences are too choppy-five words per bullet (expand; make it interesting)
- Wording is weak; statements are too simple (use action verbs and a thesaurus)
- Same information repeated too many times (use a functional/combination format)
- Too many typos and grammatical errors (read it backwards; have a friend proof-read it!)
- Unrelated jobs go back too far in years (keep it to 7-10 years in most cases)
- Includes too much unrelated information (stay on track; keep the position in mind)
- Does not include enough related information (show how well rounded you are)
- Uses pronouns - "I, He, She, His, Her" (not necessary or is understood)
- Style is outdated looking (headings are underlined and followed by colons ":", the word "duties" is used, and uses "responsibilities:" as subheadings)
- Second page is too short - only a third down or less (condense/combine)
- Second page does not include your name (what if the second page is misplaced?)
- Too much or not enough white space (looks empty, inexperienced)
- Uses the full address for employers (list only the town and state)
- Uses full employment dates such as 12/11/01 (list only the month and year)
- Lists reason for leaving or explains situation (if you must, save it for the letter)
- Includes a Professional References Available Upon Request statement at the bottom of the resume (not wrong, but not necessary. Remember, this is not an option. If the employer wants references, they will ask for them)
- Includes a cover letter / salary information on the resume (use separate sheets)
- Includes unrelated personal interests and hobbies such as "enjoy reading, long walks, music, travel, knitting, and puzzles" (include interests ONLY if it is related to your career Objective)
- Includes personal information such as married, homeowner, two children (Leave off. It is unrelated to the position, and risks possible discrimination)