Resume Writing

A resume is a brief summation of your abilities, education, and experience. It has one purpose and that is to get you a job interview. Your resume must be able to quickly convey to the reader that you are worth interviewing. Your qualifications, words, format and presentation must all be packaged to sell yourself. The following recommendations will help you write an effective resume.

Getting Started

Gather all necessary information. Do not worry about the format of your resume at this time. Concentrate on marketing yourself. Think of your resume as a series of interchangeable sections that you can break down and work on independently. When you are finished gathering and writing your information it will be easier to choose a format.

The Essentials:
Identification: Include your name, current address and phone number, permanent address and phone number, and e-mail address.

Education: Begin with your current or most recent degree and list all colleges in reverse order. List your degree, major, date achieved or expected, institution name, city, and state. This section may also be used to list any certificates or licensing you have received. You may want to list relevant course work, senior projects, or externships in this section. List your GPA if it is 3.0 or better on a 4.0 scale.

Experience: This may be more than one section. You may want to divide it into work experience related to your career, your educational experiences or class projects related to your career field (internships, Co-op jobs, senior projects, etc.), and your other work experience. Include positions whether or not you were a paid employee. List your job title first, then employer name, city and state. When detailing job history, concentrate on skills acquired rather than citing a job description. Use "PAR" statements (Problem-Action-Results) to highlight your accomplishments, citing specific figures or percentages as much as possible to demonstrate the results of your actions.

The Optionals:
Use them as needed to personalize your resume:

Objective: The reader should be able to quickly grasp who you are and what you seek to do. Make this clear with a brief, well-defined objective. The more specific your objectives, the better - but be sure to modify it when necessary.

Skills or Summary of Qualifications: An alternative to a specific objective is a summary or career profile that describes your abilities, knowledge, experience, or personal traits that are career relevant. Focus on transferable skills and key words. List computer languages and software, communication, leadership, teaching or tutoring, and other relevant proficiencies.

Activities: Use this section to show your extracurricular activities such as membership in clubs, fraternities/sororities, professional associations, volunteer service, and other organizations. Emphasize activities that are relevant to your career goals or the needs of the employer. Summarize skills acquired through these activities as well. As in a job, list your title first.

Example: Member, Society of Women Engineers, 1996-98

If you held an office with extensive duties, you may want to include that office and duties in the experience section.

References: Prepare a separate list of references, with complete name, title, company name, address, and telephone numbers of 3 to 5 individuals. This is usually given to the prospective employer at the interview.

Preparing Your Text - Basic Guidelines

Remember that employers are going to be looking through tens, hundreds, maybe thousands of resumes over a short period of time. The first impression your resume makes at this stage is just as important as the first impression you make at your interview. If it looks pleasing, the employer will possibly spend more time looking at it.

  • Be concise. A one-page resume is preferable, but you may use two if you have extensive relevant experience and/or skills. Print your name at the top of each page.
  • Use perfect spelling and grammar.
  • Construct in clauses, not complete sentences. (for example: Solved problems creatively)
  • Avoid use of personal pronouns. (for example: I, me, mine)
  • Start your description with an action verb and keep adjectives to a minimum.
  • List your best assets first, whether education, experience, or skills.
  • Use a clear, visually pleasing, and easy to read format. Use a 12-point font size if possible.
  • Laser printed on quality paper. Use white or light colored paper and black or dark ink that will fax and copy cleanly.
  • Have someone else proofread it for you. The professionals in our office will be happy to assist you. You may also want your faculty to review it. Remember that people may offer many different opinions. Use your own judgment and be open-minded about constructive criticism.

Laying it Out

After your text is prepared, choose a format that is unique to your achievements and academic credentials. There are two basic resume formats. The Chronological resume emphasizes work experience. List jobs beginning with the most recent. The Functional resume emphasizes skills and talents. Cluster your experience under headings that highlight these skills. (For example: leadership, research, computers, etc.) This format can be helpful if you have little relevant job experience.

Once you have created your resume, hold it at arm's length and see how it looks. Is the information spaced well, not crowded on the page? Is there too much white space? Is important information easy to find? The effective resume is balanced, neat, visually appealing, and flows consistently. Clearly separate sections and emphasize section titles. Leave sufficient blank space between sections for easy reading.

Finally, do not make multiple copies of this resume. Your resume will be an ongoing project. In order to get the interview, you must tailor your resume to the company you are sending it to. This means frequent editing. Continually update your resume as you gain skills and experience.

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