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Resume Writing Tips

A professional resume often means the difference between getting an interview and getting lost in the shuffle.  When conducting a job search, your resume is usually a potential employer’s first impression of you. Your resume should be an accurate reflection of your educational background, work history and job-related accomplishments and skills.

When preparing your resume….

  • Be clear and concise. Communicate your thoughts while including relevant details.
  • Limit the length to one page.
  • Use a traditional format…chronological and functional are the most common formats (see resume formats below).
  • Stay away from colors and graphics! Only use high-quality white, cream or gray paper.
  • Make it easy to read.
    • Use 10-point, traditional font such as Times, Palatino, Optima and Courier.
    • Use bold, underline and larger headings for emphasis.
    • Use bulleted statements.

Resume Formats

  • Chronological - This is the most commonly used resume style. It is a listing of each position you have held, beginning with the most recent, followed by a description of your responsibilities.
  • Functional - The structure of this format highlights your skills and achievements. The employers and positions held are listed at the bottom of the resume.

Resume Content

Whether you choose the chronological format or the functional format, the basic information that should be included in your resume remains the same ... just in a different order.

  • Heading - This will include your name, address, and contact information (phone numbers, e-mail, etc.).
  • Objective - It is a common misconception that a resume should always begin with an objective or summary.  In fact, an objective should only be used in a focused job search.  If an objective is necessary it should contain one or two sentences that clearly relate your experience to your goals.  This objective must be relevant to the position for which you are applying.  If not, remove or rewrite the objective prior to submitting your resume.  We recommend that recent college graduates and those with limited work experience refrain from including an objective on their resumes.
  • Work History - This is an overview of your career history. Include the company name, dates of employment and your job title for each employer. The location of the employer may also be included. A bulleted list of your responsibilities and accomplishments follows this segment. When describing your accomplishments, use action words, i.e., adapted, arranged, drafted, expedited, familiarized, planned, provided, referred, surveyed, wrote, etc.
  • Education - The school(s) attended, degree(s) received, and field of study should be included. If you choose, your GPA, any graduation distinctions and date(s) may also be included. These additional details can be emphasized if you are a recent graduate. If you have more than a few years of work experience, the educational information should be secondary to your work history. Note: If you are a recent graduate with little or no work history, the Education and Work History segments can be reversed.
  • Distinguish yourself from the other applicants! - These are sections that are usually seen on resumes. Although they are not critical, they may help distinguish you from other candidates.
    • Computer Skills - If you are technically savvy, this is great information to include, because it's so important in today's job market. Include any systems and software with which you are fairly proficient.
    • Awards - This is the area to list academic honors or community awards you have received. The academic honors are particularly important if you are a recent graduate.
    • Community Involvement - This is the place to list the professional associations you are involved in and the charity work that you do.
    • References - "References available upon request" is an option to state at the bottom of the page.

A Few Final Do's and Don'ts for Your Resume

Do be descriptive in the wording you use and avoid using the first person (I, We, etc.)

Do proofread your resume.  Have someone else read it for clarity of content, spelling and grammatical errors.

Do use buzzwords when describing your skills. Resumes are often scanned into company databases and accessed by key word searches for important skills.

Do include ALL college work experience, including those positions you think will not matter.  This is a good way to show you’ve learned how to advance your background.

Don't list hobbies and personal information such as family status, health and age. This information is not relevant to your ability or suitability for the position.

Don't try to be clever or humorous in your presentation.

Don't brag. Sell yourself and your skills, but don't come across as overly boastful.

Don't lie, be vague or misrepresent yourself. Employers can easily verify the facts on your resume. Being caught in a compromising situation can prevent you from being selected for the position.

Don’t include photos of yourself.

Do e-mail your resume.  Your goal is for your resume to be received in as pristine a condition as it looked when you sent it.  If possible, create your resume as a Word document and attach it to an e-mail message.

Don’t use background stationary or colored font when e-mailing your resume.  A plain white background with black font is best.

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