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Basic Resume Guidelines
Your resume serves as your introduction to an employer. It is a personal advertisement promoting yourself for a position. The resume can also help create a favorable first impression. It can show the employer your qualifications and bridge the gap between your qualifications and the needs for the position. The ultimate goal of the resume is to create such an impression that an employer will want to set up an interview. It is important to note that there is no right or wrong way to format a resume, it really depends on your personal preference and that of the employer. So don't be surprised if you get conflicting information when it comes to resume writing. In Career Services, we provide resume advice based on what the majority of employers and career experts say they are expecting on a resume.
Get Started on Your Resume
Below are a few guides to get you started on your resume:
Resume Writing Tips - Tips on how to write a resume...great start to creating a solid document.
Resume Checklist - Use this checklist to make sure you have all the basics of a resume completed.
Naming Your Skills - Use this list of more than 200 verbs to describe your skills to an employer when creating your resume and cover letter. This list is just a starting point for the many possible verbs you can use.
Navigating Disclosure Issues in Resume Writing - When deciding how (or if) to articulate your involvement with LGBTQ-related organizations or groups, it is important you do what is most comfortable for you. Along the continuum of disclosure, there are a number of ways to communicate your invaluable skills and knowledge you gained from your involvements.
Chronological -- This is the most common and most accepted of the three types of resumes and it starts with the most current information and moves backwards in describing your education, skills and experience.
Chronological Resume Template
Functional-- This resume groups skills together by functional area. This is a resume outline or format that presents your skills and experience without putting them in a sequential date order. Instead, you group your skills and experience by types or functions, hence the name. The career history can be either reduced to a list of dates and company names as well as job titles towards the end of the resume, or no detail can be given at all - supposedly since this has all been stated functionally. This format is not always well received by employers. Many employers believe that this resume format/outline is designed to "hide something"! This is an important point, so you should be careful of using this format.
Functional Resume Template
Combination -- A resume that begins with a functional summary of your most relevant qualifications, key skills, and abilities. Then gives a chronological career history that supports the summary. This resume outline is a great compromise if you'd like to use a functional format, but are wary of employers disliking them.
- Chronological 1, Chronological 2, Chronological 3
- Combination 1, Combination 2
- Using Projects/Coursework on Resume - Example of how you can use your coursework and projects as experience on your resume.
- Student Athlete & Leadership Experience - Example of how to showcase athletics and leadership on a resume.
- Internship Resume Sample - An example of how to write a resume when seeking an internship
- Study Abroad Experience - An example of how to show your study abroad experience
Possible Resume Section Headings
- Contact Information/Heading -- The first thing that should be on every resume is some kind of contact information. Your name followed by an address, phone number (be sure to have a professional sounding voicemail message), and email address are commonly used. If you have one, you could also include the link to your LinkedIn profile (see page 26 for more information on LinkedIn), a personal website, and/or your portfolio.
- Objective -- (optional) First of all keep in mind that one isn't required! Consider whether you wish to include this at all. The latest trend is to move away from this rather outdated practice. If you decide to use a resume objective statement it should be specific and should focus on what you can offer the prospective company - not what you are hoping to gain from employment.
- Education -- Always put your highest level of education. If you are currently in college, state where you go to school and when you expect to graduate and include your major. If you have already graduated, state when you graduated and what degree you obtained. Optional information to list includes a concentration or emphasis of study, Dean's List(2 or more times), Grade Point Average (if it is relatively high), study abroad, dissertation or thesis, honors, awards, and scholarships (however, honors, awards and scholarships can have a separate section).
- Course Highlights -- (optional) If you are applying for a position in a very technical field (computers, engineering, science) you can highlight some of the courses that you have taken. This can be very helpful if you do not have a lot of work experience in a certain field.
- Experience -- In this section elaborate on jobs, internships, and other relevant experience. May use a title called "Related Experience" for this section. List Chronologically backwards. Need to include the name of the employer, city, state, and dates of employment, job titles, and a job description. For the job description section, highlight skills that you obtained, duties that you held, and different achievements that you attained while holding the position. Use action verbs in the description and be consistent with past/present tense. Break up large blocks of text with bullets.
- Skills -- (optional) This is a place to highlight special skills that you possess. They could range from computer skills to foreign language proficiencies.
- Activities, Honors, and Awards -- (optional) This is a place to highlight awards that you have earned or different organizations that you have been affiliated with.
- Volunteering, Community Service -- (optional) If you have a lot of experience with community service, it looks great on a résumé. So does volunteer work.
- Interests -- (optional) Most of the time you would not include this on your resume. When to include your interests or hobbies is when they are relevant to the job or something that shows your character. For example, restoring old cars or rebuilding computers shows that you have an attention to detail, hands-on, patience, etc. If you run 10Ks or marathons, this shows your self-motivation, discipline, and a healthy lifestyle. This should always be the last section on a resume if you include it.
10 Questions to ask yourself to improve your resume
- What can you offer employers that would be an asset to them?
- Why should employers consider you over others applying for the same jobs?
- What are your five primary attributes that would help you in your profession?
- Have you received any special awards or special recognition for outstanding performance in any area?
- Why were you hired, recruited or promoted for each of the positions you held?
- Was there a specific challenge, business problem or market issue that you needed to address?
- What are your top three accomplishments for each position?
- How did your company benefit from having you as an employee?
- What recommendations or solutions did you make that your company adopted?
- What were the biggest business hurdles/challenges you overcame at each position?
What are some tips about scannable resumes?
- Some employers scan resumes for key words that pertain to the position.
- The resume should be minimally formatted.
- The resume should be on plain white paper.
- Focus on nouns instead of action verbs on a scannable resume.
- Sometimes italicized words do not scan very well.
What should NOT be included on a resumé?
- Your picture.
- Salary requirements or previous salaries.
- The name or contact information of previous supervisors.
- Personal information (e.g. birth date, marital status, health status, etc.)
- References. Place them on a separate sheet
How can I condense my resume since I have a lot of experience?
If you have a long work history, or if you’ve been in school for a long time, it’s not uncommon to have trouble whittling that resume down to a reasonable length. Here are some quick guidelines:
- Find out if the application requires a CV or a resume. This is important, because a CV has no page limit (see CV guidelines via the link below).
- Page Guidelines: A resume should be in the range of 1 to 3 pages. If you’re a new grad, 1 or 2 pages should do it. If you’ve been in the workforce a longer time, 2 to 3 pages is fine. If you’re planning to hand it out at a job fair, try to create a 1-page version.
- Tailor the Resume for the Job. You don’t need lots of details about every job you’ve ever done. Elaborate on the ones that are most relevant to the job you’re applying for. For your other jobs, just list the title and dates.
- Cut! If you have experiences that doesn't relate at all to the direction you’re headed professionally, leave it out. UNLESS this would create gaps in your resume. But if you’re covered without it, make the cuts and leave space for the most relevant jobs.
What about References? Find out how to set up your references page.
Articles/Videos about Resume Writing:
- Debunking Common Resume Myths - There are several resume myths that continually circulate about creating the "perfect" resume. Don't believe the hype.
- Extracurricular Activities on Your Resume - Think you shouldn't include these on your resume? Think again!
- Hobbies and Interests on Your Resume: A Do or a Don't? - Do interests and hobbies have a place on your resume? Read why one author thinks of them as the key to landing jobs.
- It's How You Say It: Use of Language - When it comes to resume writing, there is a specific use of language to keep in mind. For those of you who may feel insecure about your writing--fear not.
- Creating a Stand-Out Resume Video
- Your Resume Checklist - Armed with the following checklist, you can learn to make the most of your one-page pitch and enter the running for the positions you want.
- Solving Common Resume Problems - Don't let these typical resume quandaries blow your chances of landing an interview.
- How To Play Up Sports on Your Resume - Just because you've traded the locker room for the boardroom doesn't mean you can't highlight your athletic achievements in the workplace.
- What is a "Focused" Resume and Why is it the #1 Priority in the Job Search? - Explains what it means to "focus" your resume and gives great tips in how to do so.
- Resume Writer's Insider Tip: Values Proposition - Take your resume to the next level by including a value proposition that you'll take with you throughout the job search.
- Basic Resume Dos and Don'ts - Give your resume an overhaul. Here are some tips to help you avoid common mistakes while building a stronger, more refined resume.
- Online Presentation: 10 Tips to Building a Perfect Resume - Writing a stellar resume can be challenging. These 10 tips can help you make it one more step to perfect!
- Online Presentation: Creating a Stand-Out Resume - Discover how you can create a resume that helps you market your message and stand out in a pool of applicants.
- 12 Myths About Writing Your Resume
If you would like your cover letter, resume or both reviewed, come to Drop-In hours: Monday-Thursday 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. in Career Services. Also, don't forget to upload your resume on Beaver Careers and publish it so that approved employers can view it! Find out how to do this.