Career Development Center

Resumes/Letters/Portfolios

Resume Writing Guide

The Purpose of a Resume:
To get an interview. Resumes are one to two-page summaries of your qualifications and their sole purpose is to impress prospective employers.

An Effective Resume:

Focuses on aspects of your background most relevant to your current job objective
Addresses the employers needs and how he/she will benefit by hiring you
Is a marketing tool; a way to spark an employer’s curiosity and interest in you
Gets your foot in the door – Increases your likelihood of getting a job interview

How Do I Begin?

The resume is an important, primary tool of a job search that should receive a significant amount of your time and attention, and may take several drafts to prepare competently.  The best resumes are often written by people who have a focused career objective, and can effectively communicate to employers, the qualifications that demonstrate their suitability for that objective.  It is important that you are aware of what skills, education, and personal qualities are needed for jobs that interest you, so you can decide if these requirements match your own abilities and needs.   Many people will develop more than one resume, each targeting different types of employment opportunities. 

Which resume format should I use?
There are 3 main resume styles.  Choose the one most effective in presenting your qualifications:     

Chronological 

• Best for those with an impressive work history in their field of interest
• Effective for people staying within the same field or climbing the career ladder
• Useful for new college graduates
• Focuses on employment history and education
• Experience and education are listed in reverse chronological order

Functional    
• Best for those who have limited work experience in their field of interest
• Appropriate for career changers or frequent job changers
• Effective for people returning to the work force with employment gaps
• Emphasizes skills developed through academic/volunteer/work experiences
• Downplays unrelated work experience, stressing transferable job skills 
• Clusters one's education, experience, and activities into skill categories

Combination 
• Effective for people with widely varied experiences
• Suitable when experiences are limited or not clearly related to job objective
• Used by new college grads with relevant leadership/internship positions
• Combines the elements of the chronological and functional resume types
• Highlights marketable skills by summarizing strengths at the beginning 
• Places vital experiences in reverse chronology, after qualifications summary

What are the parts of a resume?

There is no one perfect way to write a resume.  The focus of your resume will determine what contents to include and how to arrange the topic headings.  The following guidelines will help you to prepare and present that information in a highly effective way.  

PERSONAL HEADING    Your name and contact information should be clearly visible at the top of the resume.  Also, your name and the page number should be placed at the top of any additional resume pages.

Present/Campus Address (if applicable): Institution, Street, City, State, Zip Code, Area Code & Phone #
Permanent Address: Street, City, State, Zip Code, Area Code & Phone #
Include appropriate e-mail address (i.e. jdoe@gmail.xyz)

OBJECTIVE    The objective should be current, concise, focused on your career goals, and directed to as targeted an audience as possible.  If possible, name a specific job title and employer.

Example: To obtain the position of Business Analyst at Motorola.

If you’re considering more broad or diverse job options, you may decide to omit the job objective statement.  As an alternative, you may discuss your career interests in the accompanying cover letter or prepare more than one resume using different objectives.

EDUCATION   Place your education in the first section of the resume, if it is related to your objective and has been obtained within the last few years.  As your work experience increases, place education in a subsequent section.  List in reverse chronological order, all college, university, and professional school data.  (Don’t include high school)

• Degree, institution name & location (city, state), graduation date or date expected (month, year)
• Major, Minor (and concentration if appropriate), Cumulative GPA/GPA in major (optional) – list if 3.0 or higher
• Academic awards/honors/scholarships – Note if based on academic performance or faculty nomination
• Relevant current certifications/licenses (list dates) or program endorsements by professional associations
• All teaching certifications (include states, grade levels, subject, and special areas certified in)
• Relevant coursework outside of your major or unique to your major program
• Percentage of educational expenses personally financed, if significant (traditional age students only)
• Consider a section heading called “Educational Highlights” or “Special Projects” to describe any relevant research studies or projects developed through coursework.

Example: 
Special Projects: 
Marketing Plan Development, Contemporary Chrysler-Dodge, Milford, NH
• Led group research of primary market to educate principal on the most
effective approach toward product positioning and differentiation
• On-site review of existing sales and marketing program

EXPERIENCE      Use this section to showcase responsibilities, skills, and accomplishments that qualify you for the job.  Possible sources of relevant experiences to consider including are:
• Full-time, part-time, and summer jobs
• Internships and Co-ops
• Volunteer work
• Student teaching, practicums, and field work experience
• Research and teaching assistantships
• Study/work/travel abroad
• Student or community organizations - active participation & leadership roles
Include title held, name of organization, location (city, state, and country if not USA), and dates (month/yr)

List experiences in reverse chronological order within categories.  You can use different headings to group related experiences together.  Doing so, will allow you to prioritize your most relevant skills, by putting them in categories closer to the top of the resume, so they're read first.

Examples:
 
•EXPERIENCE
• PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE
• WORK HISTORY
• RELATED EXPERIENCE
• VOLUNTEER EXPERIENCE or LEADERSHIP ACTIVITIES
• STUDENT TEACHING, INTERNSHIP, or CO-OPERATIVE EXPERIENCE 
• (career field) EXPERIENCE (ie. BUSINESS EXPERIENCE, DESIGN/MEDIA EXPERIENCE)

TIPS FOR PREPARING YOUR EXPERIENCE SECTION:  
• Include a brief summary of your major job/volunteer responsibilities
• Use well known buzz words and industry jargon related to your career field
• Begin statements with action words (see list below), using telegram rather than narrative writing style
Highlight accomplishments that illustrate your expertise, strengths, and contributions, which are most relevant to your objective.  Ask yourself, “What challenges did I face?” and “What solutions did I find?”  
Use the following STAR technique:

S =  identify the Situation that existed or
T =  the Task you were completing 
A = describe the Action taken 
R = describe the Results of your action (which could be a skill demonstrated or an outcome of your action)

A good accomplishment statement should contain:
• An action verb describing what you did rather than your responsibilities
• The scope of your activities (size of unit managed, size of budget managed, or a number of personnel affected). Quantitative data is a plus!
• The results of your activities, which can be 
- outcomes given in measurements such as, numbers/percent, amount of money, or value-added for customers.
- and/ or specific skills you gained or demonstrated in that experience. 

For example, if you were an employer sorting through resumes, would you prefer to interview the candidate who merely listed duties? –
Maintain customer service. Responsible for deliveries to different departments.
- OR -
Would you select the applicant who qualified/quantified their abilities with specifics and proven results?
STAR approach examples:
• Initiated advanced assembly procedures to increase production 15% by reducing turnaround time from six to five days
• Planned and scheduled over twenty-five tours per week
• Organized and conducted monthly meetings for over twenty tour guides
• Led a team of volunteers in planning, preparing, and serving a weekly meal for 90 residents at a local homeless shelter, increasing service by 25%
• Coordinated a community event involved 150 individuals that resulted in $1000 collected for the New York Disaster Relief Fund
You and your competition may have similar work and/or educational backgrounds.   Emphasizing your unique successes and strengths will allow your resume to stand out above the rest.

PROFESSIONAL MEMBERSHIPS / CIVIC ACTIVITIES / EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES        Employers seek applicants who are active "doers", being able to balance many activities.
• List significant memberships and leadership roles, including offices held (note if elected or appointed)
• Include title (if appropriate), name of organization/team/club, awards or honors, and dates involved
• Describe major responsibilities, achievements, and results

SKILLS 
Examples:
• COMPUTER SKILLS – Software applications, languages, hardware, operating systems, & Internet experience
• FOREIGN LANGUAGE SKILLS – Level of speaking, reading, & writing fluency (basic, intermediate, proficient)
• TECHNICAL or LABORATORY SKILLS – List those relevant to the particular job sought

OTHER CATEGORY OPTIONS
Examples:

• QUALIFICATIONS SUMMARY / SKILLS PROFILE - Used to condense an extensive work history or highlight transferable skills, using brief keyword phrases to emphasize important  qualifications.  
• PRESENTATIONS / PUBLICATIONS / RESEARCH - List titles, dates, and biographical info
• WORKSHOPS & CONFERENCES ATTENDED - List dates, location, & title of relevant workshops

REFERENCES: Create a separate Addendum with names, contact information and title.

RESUME DO’S AND DON’TS
• Make your resume concise (1-2 pages preferred), neat, well spaced, and visually appealing
• Use consistent grammar structures and verb tenses (previous jobs/past tense, current jobs/present tense)
• When describing relevant experience, avoid the use of personal pronouns like "I".
• Proofread your resume for spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors that employers will view negatively

RESUME ACTION VERBS BY SKILL CATEGORIES
RESUME ADJECTIVES
 

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