Preparing a resume

Preparing a resume
A resume is a one or two page summary of your skills, accomplishments, experiences, and education designed to capture a prospective employer's interest. The purpose of a resume is to secure an interview. It is the primary tool of your job search and may take several drafts to prepare effectively. This article is designed to assist you by offering suggestions and guidelines for you to use as you construct, write and print your resume.

Building An Effective Resume
I. Self-Assessment

Before you can write an effective resume, you must first be able to identify your skills and abilities as well as your special needs relating to the work environment, salary, geographic location, and people environment. This step will help you to develop a career objective. The following exercises will help you identify some things about yourself which you may want to express in your resume.

Self-Assessment Exercise

A. List at least 10 skills which you have developed in each of the following areas: Education/Work/Internships or Volunteer/Extracurricular. Use action words todevelop one-liner summaries.

B. Circle each of the skills noted in part A that you would like to use in your employment. Are there other talents you possess that you would like to use on the job? If so, add them to the list of circled skills. Now rank these skills in order of those you most want to use.

C. Make a list of what you consider to be 5 great accomplishments in your life. What personal qualities helped you reach each goal?

II. Career Exploration

Collecting information regarding the required skills and qualifications of occupations which interest you is an extremely important step. This information will help
you decide if and how these requirements relate to your own skills and needs. Using the books available at your institution's career center or making an appointment
with a counselor can be helpful in identifying and exploring careers and can also help you in developing a career objective.

III. Writing The Resume

As you organize your resume, keep in mind the needs of the employer who will be reading it. Consider what s/he is looking for in a candidate and make it easy for the reader to pick out those skills by selecting appropriate categories, using underlining, boldfacing or capitalizing and presenting relevant experience and skill areas higher on the page. Competencies Sought by Employers illustrates common transferable skills and qualities.

Keep in mind the following suggestions as you begin developing your resume:

1.Sell yourself. Create a good first impression by highlighting skills and abilities appropriate to the position.

2.Use active language. Check out our on-line list of action words to spice up your resume. Articulate marketable skills acquired through your positions. Example: Salesperson, Smith Shoe Store, Portland, Maine. Assisted clients with selection of shoes, developed and promoted special marketing events, trained new employees, monitored cash. Store increased in sales by 7 percent in 6 month period.

3.Be consistent. Choose a pattern of spacing, an order of information presentation or a format of highlighting and be consistent throughout.

4.Present information in reverse chronological order within categories. List education and work experiences starting with the most recent first.

5.Check for grammar. Misspellings and poorly constructed sentences communicate negative impressions about a candidate.

6.Ensure that your resume is neat and visually appealing. Choose high quality paper in white, off-white or other conservative colors. Have the final version professionally reproduced.

Make Your Resume Unique

Feel free to develop your own categories to highlight your special relevant experiences and skills. It is frequently useful to separate your related or professional experiences from your other work experience by creating separate categories for these content areas. In this way, you can call more attention to your relevant skills by putting them in categories closer to the top of the resume so they are read first.

Here Are Some Examples:

Student Teaching Experience
Related Experience
Experience With Children
Related Courses
Community Volunteer Work
Workshops & Conferences Attended
Technical Skills
Special Skills
Computer Skills
Professional Memberships
Military Experience
Language Proficiencies
Additional Information
In place of Related Experience you might wish to indicate your field of experience in the category heading.

Examples: Business Experience, Engineering Experience, Human Services Experience, Sales Experience, etc.

Resume Content Areas

The following categories can be used as guideline to assist you in organizing a resume. In constructing a rough draft, do not be concerned with length. Remember, categories may be omitted or added in later revisions. There is no absolute correct way to organize your resume. Creativity is encouraged. The following are descriptions of the basic categories of the standard resume:

Name, Address and Telephone:

Present yourself with the name you use in your personal and business life (nicknames should be avoided). If you have a campus address that does not apply during vacations or after graduation, you should present both a college and permanent address. Use your parents' home address, a post office box, or someone who will know where to contact you at all times. Also, always include phone numbers with area codes. If you have an e-mail address, you might want to include that as well.

Objective or Profile:

The objective is one of the most important parts of a resume and should not be overlooked. It informs potential employers that you are moving in a certain direction, relates your work preference(s), and serves as a focal point from which to review and analyze your resume. It should be brief, clearly stated, and consistent with the accomplishments and demonstrated skills as documented on your resume. If you are considering more than one professional goal, you should consider developing more than one resume, each presenting a different objective.


Position teaching science and/or math at the secondary school level.
Position within a financial institution requiring strong analytical and organizational skills.

The profile is an alternative to an objective statement. It gives you the opportunity to present your strengths at the very beginning of the resume.

Profile Marketing...Finance...Management

Eager to contribute to the growth of a progressive company with quality products or services.
Qualified by business education, customer service and administrative experience.
Professional appearance and advanced interpersonal communication.
Highly motivated, strong work ethic; available as needed for training, travel, overtime, etc.
Financed 80% of college tuition and expenses; additional 20% through scholarships.

In writing the major areas of your resume, it is important to emphasize your abilities and accomplishments more than past duties. You may also want to indicate how well you performed. This will help infuse personal qualities such as character and personality into your resume.


This category is particularly important if you have not had a great deal of work experience. Remember, your most recent educational experience should be listedfirst. Include your degree (A.S., B.S., B.A., etc.), major, institution(s) attended, date of graduation, minors or concentrations, and any special workshops, seminars, related coursework or senior projects. A G.P.A. of higher than a 3.0 (either overall G.P.A. or G.P.A. in major) should also be noted here.

Work Experience:

Many students have limited paid work experience, but have been involved in volunteer, internship, practicum or student teaching work experiences. The important point to the employer is what your skills are and what you can do on the job. Be sure to include all significant work experience in reverse chronological order. Note to teacher candidates: be sure to include your student teaching experience on your resume.

You should include: (1) the title of your position, (2) name of organization, (3) location of work (town, state), and (4) dates (ex. Summer 1994; 1994-95 academic year) You should describe your work responsibilities with an emphasis on achievements using action words to communicate your skills. List the most important and related responsibilities first. Identify the most relevant work experiences and describe them fully. Be brief with the irrelevant experiences or omit them. It is sometimes useful to divide your work experience into two categories: Relevant Experience and Other Experience. You may want to add that work was performed to earn a certain percent of college expenses. Example: Earned 75% of college expenses through the following part-time jobs.

Additional Information

This category is useful for displaying information that doesn't fit in any other category. Although Interests, Computer Knowledge, and Activities can be separate categories, especially if they are very strong, they can be listed here as well. Languages spoken, or any extra, relevant bit of information can be placed here as well.

Interests: This is sometimes used to evaluate your suitability to a geographic area or to understand your "personality type". Include this section if you have available space. Include social or civic activities, health and fitness or sports activities, or hobbies which indicate how you spend your leisure time. Computer Knowledge: If using computers is a necessary skill for the job you are seeking, be sure to highlight your knowledge in this section. Example: Software: Lotus, dBASE III, WordPerfect 5.1, Microsoft Word, Excel, SAS, Real World Accounting Hardware: IBM 3090 Mainframe, AT&T 386, IBM PC, Macintosh Activities, Honors, and Leadership are also important categories to include. If the activities involved work responsibility, note it in some detail. The employer is interested in the skills you have developed whether through volunteer or paid experiences. If you were elected to offices or committees, mention it. Recognition and demonstration of leadership roles are valuable.


Be sure to ask individuals if they would be willing to be a reference for you prior to mentioning their names to prospective employers. Names of individuals are not usually listed on the resume (unless there is space available at the end), but you should prepare a typed list of three references to provide at the interview. This list should include name, title, employer, address, business and home telephone number. You may also state at the bottom of your resume "References furnished upon request."


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