- Identify characteristics of an effective résumé
For many people, the process of writing a résumé is daunting. After all, you are taking a lot of information and condensing it into a very concise form that needs to be both eye-catching and easy to read. Don’t be scared off, though! Developing a good résumé can be fun, rewarding, and easier than you think if you follow a few basic guidelines. In the following video, a résumé-writing expert describes some keys to success.
You can view the transcript for “Resume Tutorial” here (opens in new window).
Contents and Components To Include
- Your contact information: name, address, phone number, professional email address
- A summary of your skills: 5–10 skills you have gained in your field; you can list hard skills as well as soft skills (refer to the Professional Skill Building topic in this course)
- Work experience: depending on the résumé format you choose, you may list your most recent job first; include the title of the position, employer’s name, location, employment dates (beginning, ending)
- Volunteer experience
- Education and training: formal and informal experiences matter; include academic degrees, professional development, certificates, internships, etc.
- References statement (optional): “References available upon request” is a standard phrase used on résumés, although it is often implied
- Other sections: may include a job objective, a brief profile, a branding statement, a summary statement, additional accomplishments, and any other related experiences
Résumés resemble snowflakes in as much as no two are alike. Although you can benefit from giving yours a stamp of individuality, you will do well to steer clear of personal details that might elicit a negative response. It is advisable to omit any confidential information or details that could make you vulnerable to discrimination, for instance. Your résumé will likely be viewed by a number of employees in an organization, including human resource personnel, managers, administrative staff, etc. By aiming to please all reviewers, you gain maximum advantage.
- Do not mention your age, gender, height or weight.
- Do not include your social security number.
- Do not mention religious beliefs or political affiliations, unless they are relevant to the position.
- Do not include a photograph of yourself or a physical description.
- Do not mention health issues.
- Do not use first-person references (I, me).
- Do not include wage/salary expectations.
- Do not use abbreviations.
- Proofread carefully—absolutely no spelling mistakes are acceptable.
Top Ten Tips for a Successful Résumé
- Aim to make a résumé that’s 1–2 pages long on letter-size paper.
- Make it visually appealing.
- Use action verbs and phrases. See Action Words and Phrases for Résumé Development.
- Proofread carefully to eliminate any spelling, grammar, punctuation, and typographical errors.
- Include highlights of your qualifications or skills to attract an employer’s attention.
- Craft your letter as a pitch to people in the profession you plan to work in.
- Stand out as different, courageous.
- Be positive and reflect only the truth.
- Be excited and optimistic about your job prospects!
- Keep refining and reworking your résumé; it’s an ongoing project.
Remember that your résumé is your professional profile. It will hold you in the most professional and positive light, and it’s designed to be a quick and easy way for a prospective employer to evaluate what you might bring to a job. When written and formatted attractively, creatively, and legibly, your résumé is what will get your foot in the door. You can be proud of your accomplishments, even if they don’t seem numerous. Let your résumé reflect your personal pride and professionalism.
In the following video, Résumé Tips for College Students From Employers, several college graduate recruiters summarize the most important points about crafting your résumé.
Résumé Writing Resources
|1||Résumé Builder (from Super Resume)||This site allows you to select a resume template then either edit directly in the website, or download your resume as a Word Doc and edit on your computer. Additionally, once you’ve completed your resume, you can download a PDF of your final resume. You have the option to create an account, but you are not required to do so.|
|2||Résumé Samples for College Students and Graduates (from About Careers)||This site offers a plethora of sample résumés for college students and graduates. Listings are by type of student and by type of job. Résumé templates are also provided.|
|3||JobSearch Minute Videos (from College Grad)||This site offers multiple to-the-point one-minute videos on topics such as print résumés, video résumés, cover letters, interviewing, tough interview questions, references, job fairs, and Internet job searching.|
|4||42 Résumé Dos and Don’ts Every Job Seeker Should Know (from the muse)||A comprehensive list of résumé dos and don’ts, which includes traditional rules as well as new rules to polish your résumé.|
|5||11 Free Resume Templates You Can Customize in Microsoft Word (from Hub Spot)||A collection of résumé templates that you can download and use as a starting point for your résumé.|
|6||The Online Resume Builder (from My Perfect resume)||The online résumé builder is easy to use. Choose your résumé design from the library of professional designs, insert prewritten examples, then download and print your new résumé. Please note that you must create an account to use this resource.|
Your Résumé: It’s Like Online Dating
The following essay by Jackie Vetrano is excerpted from Foundations of Academic Success: Words of Wisdom. It’s a true-to-life story comparing job hunting to online dating. The writer’s “lessons learned” are meant to enlarge your awareness of your career goals as you attend college.
It’s Like Online Dating
Searching for a job, especially your first job, is a lot like online dating. It begins as a time commitment, gets nerve-wracking towards the middle, but ends in success and happiness if you follow the right process.
Like many single people with access to current technology, I ventured into the world of online dating. I went for coffee with potential mates who were instant no ways, some who left me scratching my head, and a few who I found a connection with.
But hang on. We are here to talk about professional development, not my love life.
Being on the job hunt is not easy. Many spend hours preparing résumés, looking at open positions, and thinking about what career path to travel. Occasionally, it is overwhelming and intimidating, but when taken one step at a time, it can be a manageable and an exciting process.
The first step of online dating is the most important: create your dating profile. Your profile is where you put your best foot forward and show off all of your attractive qualities through visuals and text. Online daters find their most flattering photos and then season the “about me” section of their profile with captivating and descriptive words to better display who they are and why other online daters should give them a shot.
Résumés follow this same logic. Your résumé should be clean, polished, and present you in your best light for future employers. Like dating profiles, they are detailed and should paint a picture for other prospective dates (or future employers) supporting why you deserve a chance at their love—an interview.
The unspoken rules of online dating profiles are very similar to the rules for writing a résumé. Whether you like it or not, your online dating profile and résumé both serve as a first impression. Profiles and résumés that are short, filled with spelling errors, or vague are usually passed over. Unless you are a supermodel and all you need is an enticing photo, your written description is very important to display who you are.
Your résumé should capture who you are, your skill set, education, past experiences, and anything else that is relevant to the job you hope to obtain. Knowing your audience is a key factor in crafting the perfect resume. Logically, if my online dating profile presented studious and quiet personality traits, I would likely start receiving messages from potential mates who are looking for someone who is seeking those traits. By taking a similar approach while writing a résumé, you can easily determine the tone, language, and highlighted skills and experiences you should feature. The tone of your résumé is dictated by the nature of the position you hope to obtain in the future. For example, hospitality jobs or positions that require you to interact with many people on a daily basis should be warm and welcoming while analytical jobs, such as accounting or research positions, should reflect an astute attention to detail. Your choice in language follows similar logic—use appropriate terms for the position you are seeking.
Unlike online dating profiles, your résumé should include your important contact information, including email address, telephone number, and mailing address. Some advise refraining from listing a mailing address, as this could create a bias due to some organizations that are looking for a new employee who is already in the area.
Unfortunately, this bias cannot be foreseen, which means you should use your best judgment when listing your contact information. If you include this contact information on your dating profile, you may have some very interesting text messages in the morning.
—Jackie Ventrano, Foundations of Academic Success: Words of Wisdom
Vetrano’s essay is continued ahead in the “Cover Letters” page of this section.