Effective Resume Writing
Your resume is an essential part of your job search, it is your opportunity to make a good impression on employers. For this reason, the information on your resume should be pertinent, easy to read, and attractively laid out.
Your resume needs to provide the reader with a general review of your background. Do not clutter your resume with frivolous details. Some critical areas to include are: identifying data, education, work experience, and student/community activities.
Identifying data: Your name, address, and phone number are mandatory. An e0mail address may also be included. Do not include information such as height, weight, and race as they are not qualifications for the job. Information such as willingness to travel or date of availability could be included in an “Additional Information” category at the end of the resume.
Objective: Although there are different views on whether or not to include a career objective, this information enables the reader to quickly learn about your career interests. Objective guidelines: too specific may be limiting, too broad is meaningless. If you include an objective, think about writing 2-3 versions of your resume, each with a different objective. If you choose to have an objective, it should be no more than two lines. You can also leave the objective off and include it in the cover letter.
“Seeking an entry-level position as an accountant in a public accounting firm.”
“To obtain a position as a financial and investment analyst with a major investment bank or large corporation.”
Education: This information should appear in reverse chronological order, with your most recent education first. Include institution, title of degree, major(s), and any honors awarded. Include your GPA only if it is clearly an asset. If you have questions about including your GPA on your resume, please talk with a Career Services staff member. Any publications, professional licenses, or special training may appear in this section., Information about high school generally should not be included. Finally, the degree to which you financed your own education may also be included here (e.g. 80%)
Work Experience: Usually listed in reverse chronological order (present-past), the information includes the organization’s name, location, position held, dates of employment, and a description of your accomplishments. Focus on areas that relate to the position you are seeking and provide evidence of your ability to assume responsibility, follow through and work hard. IF you have had numerous part-time jobs, highlight the most related experiences. Military experience may be included in this section or in its own category.
Student Organization/Community Activities: Here is your opportunity to show your commitment to your major field and to leadership positions outside of the classroom. This may include social organizations such as sororities, student clubs and volunteer work. Additional categories maybe included to emphasize specific accomplishments, such as “Honors” or “Activities.”
References: Do not list references on your resume. Rather, state on your resume that your references are “Available upon request.” Prepare a separate list of professional references (3-5), including name, title, address and business phone number of each person who agreed to be a reference for you. Remember to include your name at the top of the page. Take your Reference List with you when interviewing.
“Targeting your resume means you are customizing your resume for a particular position, company, different objectives, or career field. For example, you may be interested in both financial banking and accounting, but do not want to use the same resume for both areas of business. This is when targeting your resume is useful. You can tailor your resume to each industry, narrowing the focus of your resume. If you download your resume into Microsoft Word, this is where you can make and save different targeted ones.
The appearance of your resume is critical.
Margins: Keep margins even, using appropriate balance of whitespace to printed word.
Style: Sentences need not be complete. Do not write in first person, singular case (do not use “I”). Use 8.5″ x 11″ bond resume paper of a conservative shade.
Length: Try not to exceed three pages, unless you have significant and relevant experience.
There are two commonly used formats:
Chronological: Presents education, experience, extracurricular activities, skills, and achievements in reverse chronological order under each category. Advantages to this style:
Employers are comfortable with this style because it is used often
It is the easiest way to write
Achievements can be displayed as a direct result of work experiences
Functional: Organizes skills and accomplishments into functional groupings that support your job objective, which should be stated. Advantages:
Draws attention to your accomplishments
Allows for greater flexibility in presenting skills gained through low paying jobs or personal experience
Useful when you have a brief or scattered employment record or when changing career fields
Choosing a Format: If skills and accomplishments coincide with your most significant work experiences, go with the chronological format. If you must pull together certain skills and achievements from a variety of experiences to display your strengths, the functional format may work best for you
No two resumes will look alike; format choice is a personal one. There are two basic questions to answer:
Am I communicating the skills I have attained in a way which will fulfill the needs of the employer?
Is the layout I have chosen the best way for those skills to be presented?
Use language which is as persuasive and descriptive as possible. The use of action words will assist in the development of a concise and businesslike resume
Many employers today use computerized scanning systems to review resumes. It is a good idea when sending your resume to a company that you send two versions: your usual resume and one marked “Scannable” at the top. If you are uncertain or hesitant to send two resumes, the human resources or college recruiting department of most companies should be able to inform you if they utilize resume scanning programs. Below are some ideas to keep in mind when designing your “scannable” resume:
Use only plain, white paper, letter sized (8.5″ x 11″)
Keep your resume to one side only
Laser-printed resumes scan best (not a dot matrix printer)
Do not use underlining or italics, as these do not scan well
Try to keep to a 12 pitch font
Send your resume in a large envelope: do not fold it as words in the folds will not scan properly
Limit your use of bullets and avoid use of graphics
Scanning systems often scan for key words or descriptors, so review your resume to make sure you have appropriately used key words that are relevant to your field
The Electronic Resume
An “electronic resume” can mean several things, but generally refers to a resume that is sent to an employer electronically-either via the internet or email. Some companies’ homepages will include a form that you can complete online and submit, which is a type of electronic resume. Some websites, which are geared towards job search assistance, also include these types of resume services. Many students are also putting together personal homepages which includes a link to their resume. More ideas about using technology with your resume can be found in the Electronic Resume Revolution by Joyce Lain Kennedy.
Organize Resume Writing
Step 1 – Write a rough draft and set aside for a day or two
Step 2 – Edit rough draft, seek feedback from Career Services staff
Step 3 – Make changes to final draft
Step 4 – Have two people proofread for spelling
Step 5 – Take a laser printed copy to a printer to have copies made. Obtain extra paper and matching envelopes for cover letters