Resume Basics

The average employer will spend approximately 20 seconds reviewing your résumé.

20 seconds?! That's right. You have only 20 seconds to make the right impression! The goal of your résumé is to capture the attention and interest of the employer within 20 seconds. Unfortunately, it will take more that 20 seconds for you to create a résumé that can accomplish this goal. Developing a résumé of high quality takes time, effort, and a little know-how. This packet contains the general guidelines and basic information about résumé writing to get you started. You will need to provide the time and effort. Remember, only 20 seconds! Make them count! Make the right impression! 
 

Purposes of a Résumé
Before you Begin...Prepare!
Choosing a Résumé Format
Ingredients of an Effective Résumé
Résumé DO'S
Résumé DON'Ts
ACTION VERBS

Purposes of a Résumé

Your résumé is a personal marketing tool. It is an essential part of the job-search campaign because it is an important tool used in securing an interview, whether you are searching for a part-time job, internship or co-op, or professional employment. As such, your résumé must attract attention, create interest, and provoke action: an interview.

A résumé is a written summary of your education, work experience, professional skills, and interests. Your résumé documents your value as a potential employee.

A résumé is a sample of your ability to organize and express yourself in writing, clearly, concisely, and neatly.

Your résumé can be an important step in interview preparation because it focuses your attention on your strengths and accomplishments.

During an interview your résumé can serve as a point of reference. Many interviewers will base their questions on the content of your résumé, so in a sense you can help guide the course of your interviews by preparing a résumé of high quality.

Before you Begin...Prepare!

Know Yourself: Résumé preparation begins with self-analysis. As with all phases of the job search, you need to

understand your career goals, strengths, skills, and abilities, and be able to communicate their value to potential employers.

evaluate your professional interests and likes and dislikes of past work environments.

inventory your past experience, paid or voluntary. Which experiences are relevant to your current job search and what competencies did you develop or strengthen as a result of those experiences?

Know Your Audience: You should target your résumé to your audience.

What level or types of positions are you seeking?

What skills and experiences are necessary for these positions?

Does your experience match the requirements? If so, you will be able to organize your résumé to "fit" each job you seek.

Choosing a Résumé Format

Choosing the best résumé format depends on your background and the requirements of the jobs for which you want to interview. Choose the format that emphasizes your strengths, skills, and accomplishments. The three most common résumé formats are

Chronological: The chronological résumé focuses on time and continuity. It is easy to organize, write, and read, and it is the most commonly used type of résumé. In a chronological résumé:

present your most recent job and educational experience first, then trace backwards in time.

describe the duties you performed under each listed experience.

emphasize your career growth and progression.

gaps in employment are readily noticeable. It is not advantageous for people with limited or unrelated employment experience.

Functional: The functional résumé focuses on professional skills, responsibilities, and accomplishments while it de-emphasizes dates and specific work experiences you have had. The functional résumé is:

organized by functional skills that explain general areas of expertise. Under each functional skill is a brief explanation of your accomplishments in that area.

tailored to highlight your specific skills that the job requires.

good for recent graduates, liberal arts majors, career changers, and people with limited work experience or interrupted careers.

Combination: The combination résumé incorporates both the chronological and functional formats. The combination résumé:

tailors the explanation of your job history to fit the types of jobs for which you are applying.

can also show continuity in your job record or history.

allows you to organize your background by skills and functions rather than by job title. Most of the combination résumé is functional.

lists your job titles and employers in reverse chronological order at the end of the résumé.

Ingredients of an Effective Résumé

WHAT IS ESSENTIAL?

Identifying Information 

Include your name, address, city, state, ZIP code, and telephone number with area code. If you will be graduating, you should include both a permanent and a current address on your résumé.

Education


List, in reverse chronological order, all college, university, and professional school information where you earned a degree or certificate.. You do not need to list your high school. Be certain to include the following information for each institution you attended:

Degree awarded

Name of institution, city, and state

Major, minor, area of concentration/specialization

Graduation date (month and year)

Experience

Include information about part-time, full-time, volunteer, summer, co-op, internship, community, and organization experiences as they relate to the job you are seeking. Be certain to include the following information for each experience:

Title of position

Name of employer (company or organization)

City and state of employer

Beginning and ending dates of employment (month and year)

Job-description statements beginning with action verbs (power words)

Describe your experiences using power words (see list of action verbs) and sentence fragments. Write concise explanations of the duties you performed, emphasizing major responsibilities, accomplishments, and results.

Quantify your experiences with facts and figures wherever possible. Quantifying helps an employer determine your level of authority, responsibility, and impact on an organization. Remember that this is your opportunity to persuade the employer to interview you!

WHAT IS OPTIONAL?

Depending upon your background, you may include the following information in your résumé:

Career Objective 

The career objective should be a brief, clearly worded statement indicating the level or type of position you are seeking, the type of organization you want to work for, and the skill you want to use in the position.

If you are looking at a variety of jobs, you may choose to omit the objective and discuss your interests in the cover letter or prepare a separate résumé for each career objective.

G.P.A.

Include your cumulative or major G.P.A. only if it is 3.0 or higher. Always indicate the grading scale: for example, "3.9/4.0" means 3.9 on a 4.0 scale.

College Courses

Include course work only if it is relevant to the position you are seeking or related to your major.

Honors/Awards/Scholarships/Fellowships 

Include title and years awarded.

Licenses/Certificates

List any you currently hold that are required for the position.

Publications/Presentations/Research

Include title, date, and bibliographical information.

Membership/Activities

Include community, campus, volunteer, and professional groups. Indicate leadership roles where applicable. Include dates for each position held.

Skills

Include such skill areas as computer proficiency, foreign languages, coaching, and others appropriate for the position.

References 

You may include a statement at the end of your résumé indicating that references are available upon request; however, most employers will make this assumption.

  • If an employer requests a list of references, enclose a separate page entitled "References." Do not include the reference list in the body of your résumé. Include the following information for each reference:

    • Name
    • Position title
    • Employer/organization
    • Business address
    • Telephone number with area code
    • Relationship (if not clear from résumé)
        • Use only professional references from such people as faculty members and past and present supervisors.
        • Get permission in advance from all references, notify them when you use their names, keep them informed of your progress, send them thank you notes, and tell them when you get a job.
        • Send a reference list only when an employer requests one.

          Résumé DO'S

          DO...

          • Make certain your résumé is well spaced and visually attractive.
          • Make your résumé concise. Use only as much space as you need to tell the employer what he or she will need to know in order to make the decision to interview you. If you decide that a second page is necessary, it should be identified with your name.
          • Use action words and sentence fragments to describe your experiences. Quantify your experiences wherever possible.
          • Be consistent in your use of dates, numbers, abbreviations, etc.
          • Check and recheck your résumé for errors; look closely for mistakes in grammar, punctuation, and spelling.
          • Have someone else critique and proofread your résumé.
          • Select quality bond paper for your final copies. Use white, ivory, cream, beige, buff, or light gray paper.
          • Use a letter-quality or laser printer and black type.
          • Fold and mail your résumé in a matching envelope or mail it flat in a 9" x 12" white or manila envelope.

          Résumé DON'Ts
          DON'T...

          • Type "Résumé" above your name.
          • State your reasons for leaving a job.
          • Use abbreviations or contractions.
          • Write lengthy prose.
          • Use multiple fonts, typographic symbols, or other visual elements.
          • Use personal pronouns (I, we, my).
          • Include a photograph.
          • Mention personal data (e.g., height, weight, health, age or date of birth, marital status, race, religion, sex, etc.).

          ACTION VERBS
          Begin each phrase with one of these power words to describe your experiences. Use short sentence fragments to explain the duties you performed, your major responsibilities, and any accomplishments.

          accelerated 

          accomplished

          achieved

          activated

          adapted

          administered

          advanced to

          advertised

          advised

          analyzed

          approved

          arranged

          assembled

          assisted

          budgeted

          built

          calculated

          changed

          clarified

          collaborated

          collected

          communicated

          compiled

          completed

          composed

          conceived

          conducted

          conferred

          controlled

          converted

          coordinated

          constructed

          consulted

          correlated

          created

          defined

          delegated

          demonstrated

          detailed

          designed

          developed

          devised

           

          directed

          discovered

          distributed

          doubled

          drafted

          earned

          edited

          educated

          effected*

          eliminated

          engineered

          established

          estimated

          evaluated

          examined

          executed

          expanded

          experienced

          expedited

          explained

          facilitated

          financed

          formed

          formulated

          founded

          generated

          governed

          graduated

          guided

          halved

          headed

          hired

          identified

          illustrated

          implemented

          improved

          increased

          influenced

          informed

          initiated

          innovated

          instituted

           

          inspired

          installed

          integrated

          interpreted

          interviewed

          invented

          investigated

          justified

          keynoted

          launched

          led

          licensed

          maintained

          managed

          manipulated

          marketed

          mastered

          mediated

          modified

          monitored

          motivated

          negotiated

          obtained

          operated

          ordered

          organized

          originated

          overcame

          participated

          performed

          persuaded

          pioneered

          planned

          prepared

          presented

          presided

          processed

          programmed

          promoted

          proposed

          provided

          publicized

           

          purchased 

          recommended

          reconciled

          recorded

          recruited

          reduced

          referred

          reinforced

          related

          reorganized

          repaired

          reported

          represented

          researched

          responsible 

          reviewed

          revised

          scheduled

          served

          simplified

          sparked

          sold

          solved

          specified

          stimulated

          strengthened

          structured

          succeeded

          supervised

          surveyed

          synthesized

          taught

          trained

          transformed

          transmitted

          tripled

          unified

          used

          verified

          won

          wrote

          wrought

          * Do not confuse with affected