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CREATING A RESUME THAT HIGHLIGHTS YOUR STRENGTHS
OVERALL RESUME GUIDELINES
STANDARD RESUME SECTIONS
OPTIONAL RESUME SECTIONS
OVERALL RESUME GUIDELINES
- Think about yourself and your strengths - what do you want to highlight about yourself? Your resume is a marketing document in which you are trying to convey a specific message to a target audience. Is that message that you are a high achieving student capable of learning quickly? Someone with a lot of technical skills? A social media whiz?
- Think about the organizations and positions you seek - what is important to them? Read position descriptions carefully. What qualifications are required? What information seems less relevant?
- Begin bullet points with strong action verbs and "show" the employer what you did, how you did it, and why it was important.
- Highlight your achievements and demonstrate how you can contribute to the company/organization, rather than simply listing your duties in previous jobs.
- Construct a well-organized, neat, and professional document that is written in a clear and concise manner, typically but not always one page for undergraduates and up to two pages for graduate students.
There is no such thing as the "right" format, and there are a number of ways to effectively organize your unique background on a piece of paper.
Lists your education and experience in reverse chronological order from most to least recent under each category heading. Category headings may be arranged in any order and should be organized as to emphasize your most relevant experience (whatever that may be). This is the most common resume format used by recent graduates, and it is often preferred by employers.
Focuses on skills and accomplishments over the course of all jobs held, emphasizing what you did and your transferable skills, not when or where you worked. Employment history is usually labeled in a small section at the bottom, rather than within the section describing your skills. Employers do not care much for this format, but it may be beneficial for those who are changing careers or have large employment gaps. The combination format usually works better.
Includes aspects of both chronological and functional formats. Highlights skill categories, but does include some description of employment history in a separate section.
STANDARD RESUME SECTIONS
- Contact Information: Includes your name, address, phone number (home and/or work), and e-mail address. Make sure your email address and voicemail message are appropriate for professional correspondence!
- Education: Includes the name of the college you attended, the city, and state; the name of your degree, your major and minor (if you have one), your graduation date (or anticipated date), and your GPA. Write out the full title of your degree, e.g. "Bachelor of Arts in History, May 2012." This section is typically at the top of your resume (after your objective if you have one) for current students/recent graduates. If you attended more than one school, list the most recent first. May supplement this section with "Relevant Coursework" or "Academic Accomplishments," if appropriate and related to desired position.
- Experience: This category may include paid employment, volunteering, internships, military service, athletics, etc. Include the name of the organization, your position title, and dates of the experience. Customize your headings and organize your experiences as to highlight your strongest qualifications for the position. May use headings such as "Professional Experience," "Relevant Experience," "Leadership Experience," "Teaching Experience," etc.
OPTIONAL RESUME SECTIONS
- Objective: A good objective statement sends a clear message to an employer by identifying the position(s) you are applying for, your main qualifications for the position, your career goals, and your overall professional identity. This section is typically placed below your contact information on your resume. An objective is beneficial in situations such as a career fair, but is not required when you submit a cover letter with your resume.
- Summary of Qualifications/Profile: For professionals who are more experienced, this section may take the place of the objective, briefly summarizing and highlighting your strongest skills and qualifications for the position.
- Relevant Coursework: Can be designated as its own section or included under education information. List the full course name rather than the course code.
- Academic Projects: This section may be included to expand upon relevant skills and knowledge gained through academic projects/research related to the desired position.
- Certifications/Endorsements /Licenses: Write the full title and include the date issued. If desirable in your career field, place this section closer to the top of the resume such as before or after your education information.
- Leadership/Community Services: Include dates and any leadership/responsibility you may have had. Include bullet points to provide more detail if this is a strength for you.
- Affiliations/Memberships: Write out the name of the organizations, and do not use acronyms. May include any offices held, conferences attended, related projects, etc.
- Skills:Computer skills, foreign languages, laboratory techniques, or any other job-related skills you would like to highlight. Include level of proficiency by stating "proficient in," "fluent in," "basic knowledge of," etc.
- Honors/Awards: Can be designated as a separate section or included under education information. Include the name of the honor/award and date received. May include brief statement describing honor/award.
- References: This section should not be included on your resume, but rather on a separate page following your cover letter and resume. This page will include the contact information (name, degree earned-if applicable, business address, phone number, and email address) for all your references. Ask for permission prior to using someone as a reference.
- DO tailor the content, category headings, and organization for each position to emphasize your individual strengths.
- DO quantify your accomplishments by including numbers, dollar values, and percentages.
- DO provide the answer to journalistic questions when describing your experiences (who, what, where, when, why, how).
- DO use boldface/italics/caps to highlight section headings and to differentiate between the company name and position title. Use underlining very sparingly.
- DO emphasize your transferable skills.
- DO incorporate industry-related key words and phrases.
- DO keep your formatting consistent throughout.
- DO edit and proofread multiple times for possible errors (have someone else do so as well).
- DO use good quality bond paper in a neutral color.
- Don't use a resume template.
- Don't use fancy or unusual font styles/colors.
- Don't use personal pronouns such as "I" or "my," abbreviations, or acronyms.
- Don't include confidential information such as your social security number or marital status.
- Don't embellish your experience or include information that is not accurate.
- Don't describe experiences that are irrelevant.
- Don't use vague descriptions such as "Responsible for" and "Duties included."
- Don't repeat information that is listed in other categories.
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