|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
Building An Effective Resume
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.
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
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
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
Experience With Children
Community Volunteer Work
Workshops & Conferences Attended
In place of Related Experience you might wish to indicate your field of experience in the
Examples: Business Experience, Engineering Experience, Human Services Experience, Sales
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
Position teaching science and/or math at the secondary school level.
Position within a financial institution requiring strong analytical and organizational
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.
Eager to contribute to the growth of a progressive company with quality products or
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,
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
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.
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.
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."
Job Hunting Mistakes
How to do well at an interview
How to write a good cover letter
Letters as a job search strategy
How to conduct an effective job search
Back To Main Page