Career Services Office

Students and Alumni - Career Guides

Career Resources - Writing Your Resume

PURPOSE

A resume is a marketing tool used to sell an employer on your ability to do a specific job. Its purpose is to help you secure an interview. A resume should be a brief overview of your qualifications and experience to highlight particular accomplishments for a prospective employer. See resume samples in The Perfect Resume, Resume Almanac and Resumes that Knock 'Em Dead, all located in the Career Resource Library - located in 2nd floor of UC, near Career Services Office.

FORMAT

There are two formats for writing a resume. The CHRONOLOGICAL RESUME and the FUNCTIONAL RESUME.

The CHRONOLOGICAL style is most advantageous to the experienced individual who:

  • Has worked for relatively few organizations.

  • Has shown typical career advancement.

  • Desires a new position consistent with his/her background.

This is also a good choice for those who are not job-hunting but need a resume for other purposes. It is used by over 95% of recent college graduates. A CHRONOLOGICAL RESUME should include the following:

  • Contact Information/Demographics

  • Objective

  • Education

  • Work Experience

  • Skills/Achievements

The FUNCTIONAL RESUME is most appropriate for:

  • One who changes careers and/or jobs often.

  • The individual with a spotty work record, or

  • The person entering the work force with little or no experience.

  • The individual with a considerable amount of experience in one career field.

If this sounds like you, you will undoubtedly want to emphasize your relevant skills and achievements to highlight them more than your work record. The FUNCTIONAL RESUME resolves the problem of gaps in employment. It presents experience through the "Other Work," "Accomplishments" and "Relevant Experience " sections. A FUNCTIONAL RESUME should include the following:

  • Contact Information/Demographics

  • Objective

  • Skills/Achievements

  • Education

  • Work Experience (omitting description of duties and responsibilities)

  • Categories of various accomplishments according to "function" (e.g., accounting, computer administration, etc.)

Consider the following advantages of each format before making your selection:


USE A CHRONOLOGICAL RESUME FORMAT IF:

  • Previous employer/job titles are impressive

  • Staying in same field as prior jobs

  • Employment history show career growth and development

  • Work experience with no time gaps

USE A FUNCTIONAL RESUME FORMAT IF:

  • Emphasizing skills not used in recent positions.

  • Changing careers

  • You’ve held a variety of unrelated jobs or re-entering job market after absence

  • Most experiences have been free-lance, volunteer, or temporary

CONTENT

Demographics
In this section, list your address information and how you can be reached. This information will appear at the top of the resume. It should contain your name, address and home, work, and message phone numbers, as well as an e-mail address. If you have local (for college) and permanent addresses, list both. Listing your e-mail address would be appropriate when sending to companies that have Internet capabilities. Remember to check your email on a regular basis.

Note 1: If you go by your middle name, use an initial rather than your first name. For example, E. Thomas Jones would be preferred over Eugene Thomas Jones.

Note 2: If it is not appropriate to call you at work, then do not include your work number

Objective
An OBJECTIVE is a statement indicating what kind of position you are looking for and what you can do for the organization. If you are applying for a specific job, use that job title. Otherwise, identify the type of position you are seeking, without using specific titles, or the industry in which you are seeking employment (i.e., banking). How specific you are may depend on how narrow or broad your job goals are at the particular time. You may elect to use multiple resumes with varying objectives.

Since interviewers often focus quickly on career goals and “what you can do for them”, you should include an objective that answers this question and shows you know yourself and your abilities. Once identified, the rest of the resume should be constructed to show relevant skills, education and experience. The objective can be compared to a thesis statement in an essay or speech. The body of the resume is made up of purposeful, relevant statements that support the objective. Before writing the resume, time should be spent investigating what skills you want to use and in what situations you want to use them:

  • Positions sought (e.g., cost accountant, writer, electrical engineer)

  • Skills you wish to use (e.g., knowledge of statistics, strict adherence to procedures, detail orientation)

  • Functions desired (e.g., counseling, sales, financial management)

  • Industry specifications (e.g., hospitality, securities, retail)

  • A combination of the above (e.g., position with diverse management functions in a start-up company)

Consider the following in writing the objective:

  • Be concise and to the point

  • State long-term goals in addition to immediate goals, if desired.

  • Avoid, I, me and my in this section as well as all other sections of the resume.

  • Emphasize what you can do for the employer not what the employer can do for you.

Objective: To obtain a customer service-oriented position where excellent supervisory, communication and problem –solving skills can be utilized.
Objective: To secure an administrative or managerial position with a technical firm utilizing computer skills.

Education
Education may often be the essential factor in an employee’s decision. Your academic credentials are important to an employer, particularly if you are relatively new to the working world or if you are pursuing a job that requires specific training. Express your educational background clearly and include other formal training programs you have attended, if relevant. Examples of relevant educational information:

  • Curriculum emphasized writing, layout and design

  • Last nine hours to be completed in night school

  • Financed 100 percent of education

Other possibilities:

  • Place “Activities and Honors” under Education rather than in a separate section if they are few or dated.

  • List relevant courses/departmental concentrations in this section or create a separate section (Relevant Courses, Computer Courses, Course Highlights)

It is customary to list your institutions in reverse chronological order (i.e., most recent first, unless you have good reason to do otherwise). List the school name, city and state. List the type of degree, abbreviated or spelled out, the year granted, and your major/concentration. List your overall GPA if it is over 2.6; if not, list your major GPA if it is over 2.6 or consider your GPA for the last two years.
Some additional tips for the EDUCATION section:

  • To show minors or curricular emphasis, enter this information following “Major” (e.g., Major: Psychology with emphasis in personnel).

  • Avoid abbreviations except for states. Only abbreviate your degree if it is necessary to fit the space.

Work Experience/Employment
Portray your work experience in the way that will best fit the employer’s needs. The Chronological Format lists your experiences in reverse chronological order. Either the job title or employer name should be highlighted for visibility. List dates, city and state. Under each job title and employer, list action statements and your accomplishments. Showing initiative and problem-solving success indicates your value to the employer. If Appropriate - List specific skills, computers and machines. If you accomplished specific results (cost reductions, met quotas), list these figures. Unpaid or volunteer experience should be listed below work experience in a separate heading (i.e., Volunteer Experience, Other Experience, Relevant Experience).

Relevant Experience
The experience sections are of great importance because employers look for predictors of how well you will do on the job. Past performance obviously closely correlates with future performance and the skills you acquired previously can be transferred to new situations. In selecting and ordering items for the experience section, remember this very crucial point: LIST THE MOST IMPORTANT ITEM FIRST IF AT ALL POSSIBLE. Employers often skim resumes paying greatest attention to what they see first. You can place your most important experience at the top of the list by using “Relevant Experience” as suggested for this section instead of the traditional “Work Experience” title. By using these terms instead of “Work Experience,” you can also legitimately include:

  • Internships

  • Clinical

  • Field Experience and/or Other Unpaid Experience

However, if your work experience shows a normal progression and is all related, "Work Experience" may be the best choice for the heading of this section.

Do not show routine duties and responsibilities. Show results and significant contributions; both are indicators of past accomplishments. Create pictures with words by using action verbs and illustrations (see Resume Power Verbs).

Consider how you compared with your peers. If you were better than average, find a way to say so. Label skills or strengths you demonstrated and substantiate your claim. Use quantitative illustrations, success and contributions when impressive.

Remember that if you need it, put all related volunteer experience in this section (e.g., student teaching, internships, clinical, fieldwork, acting experience, etc.)

Additional Experience

In this section you account for:

  • Experience unrelated to your objective.

  • Experience obtained early in your career.

  • Experience of short duration.

Grouping these experiences under “Additional Experience” has several advantages to you and the employer:

  • More space for relevant experience

  • Not distracted by irrelevant information

  • Able to be more persuasive

  • Better retention of relevant facts

  • Shorter resume

  • Saves reading time


Honors
In this section you may cite your awards and recognition’s in a “free form" style. Of course, employers are always impressed by accomplishments and results that are often given in the form of honors and awards. In deciding how to list honors, consider the following:

  • Show first the ones that most closely tied to your objective.

  • Follow next with the most prestigious.

  • Group those awards given by the same organization to avoid repetition.

  • Provide explanations for acronyms, Greek organizations, or other honors that are not universally recognized.

  • Scholarships and criteria for selection may be included.

Consider using figures to show selectivity or impressiveness of awards, e.g.:

  • for sales exceeding $1,000,000/year;

  • 1 of 12 selected;

  • top 10 percent;

Numbers draw a reader's attention and can be used quite effectively here and in other places on your resume. If you have only a few honors, leave out the "Honors" section and combine with "Activities and Memberships", or list under "Education". An exception would be if the honors were quite impressive.

Activities & Affiliations
This section of your resume is very important to the employer as an indicator of your leadership, professional interests, contributions and social skills. Remember the employer is interested in RESULTS!!! Below are some things to consider before entering your data. Think about:

  • Professional Memberships

  • Community Activities

  • College Activities

If you are combining honors, activities and memberships, group the honors together. Consider re-labeling the heading of this section (e.g., Activities and Honors). Some other things to consider before entering your data:

  • You can begin with the organizations name or positions held. Do what is most advantageous.

  • Do not list “?member”.

  • Don’t bombard the reader with dates. Employers are more concerned with “what” rather than “when”.

  • Provide explanations for the names of organizations if they are not self-evident.

  • If you have few entries, consider including with “Education” or in another section entitled “Additional Information”.

Additional Information
Leadership positions, work-related hobbies, awards, foreign language skills, citizenship status, security clearance level, memberships, computer skills, and community service belong in a separate heading. Create your own heading according to your strengths and relevant information you wish to highlight. Personal information (height, weight, age, and marital status) are no longer included on resumes. If religious activities or political functions are included, it is recommended that specific denominations or parties not be identified to reduce the potential for bias.


LENGTH

Most recent college graduates should have a one-page resume. Those who have years of relevant experience may have two pages.

RESUME APPEARANCE (IF NOT USING AN AUTOMATED PROGRAM)

  • Use a word processor and a laser printer

  • Select 20-50 lb. weight paper, preferable white, ivory or gray

  • Obtain matching paper for cover letters, envelopes, and other correspondence

  • If faxing a resume, use plain white paper

  • Use one inch margins all around the resume

  • Use columns when creating lists, such as relevant courses, for easy reading

  • Layout should be balanced and eye-catching

  • Make sure it is error free

Resume Do’s and Don’ts

DO

DON'T

  • Use strong action verbs

  • Use the word “I’

  • Focus on skills and achievements

  • Include information that may be perceived negatively

  • Include GPA if 3.0 or better

  • include personal items such as weight, marital status, and religion

  • Include honors and awards

  • Include misspellings, punctuation, and typographical errors


  • Be concise and keep to one page

  • Use phrases such as duties included or responsible for

  • Present in a professional manner

  • Misrepresent your GPA

  • Lead off and end with strength

  • Use dark or textured paper

RESUME POWER VERBS

Achieved
Administered
Advised
Analyzed
Authorized
Balanced
Budgeted
Built
Calculated
Collaborated
Consolidated
Commissioned
Communicated
Compiled
Coordinated
Counseled
Created
Delegated
Demonstrated
Directed
Designed
Developed
Eliminated
Engineered
Established
Expanded
Evaluated
Financed
Formulated
Gained
Hired
Implemented
Improved
Increased
Initiated
Installed
Introduced
Launched
Lectured
Led

Maintained
Managed
Marketed
Maximized
Monitored
Motivated
Negotiated
Operated
Organized
Participated
Pioneered
Prepared
Promoted
Planned
Produced
Published
Programmed
Reconciled
Recruited
Reduced
Researched
Revised
Saved
Secured
Solved
Streamlined
Structured
Spearheaded
Supervised
Taught
Tested
Trained
Updated
Utilized
Verified
Wrote