A resume is supposed to be a brief summary of your abilities, education, experience, and skills. Its main job is to market yourself to an employer and get them to contact you and hopefully get an interview. In this guide we will give you some pointers on writing an effective resume.
Before You Begin
Before you begin writing your resume you should do a rough draft on paper, a sort of self assessment if you will. Outline your skills, abilities, education, and experience on this paper and go over it several times. This will make it easier for you do come up with a final draft on the computer.
1. Contact Information
The first thing you should include on your resume is your contact information, your name, address, telephone number, email address, and fax number should all be included in this section. It is important to use current and permanent information here, if this information is wrong your hopeful employers will have no way of contacting you. If you don’t have a permanent address or phone number use your parents or a friend’s.
2. Objective or Summary
This section is typically located under your contact information and before everything else. This section tells your prospective employers what you plan on doing for their company and what you hope to get from them. It is very important to include what you plan on doing for their company as well; leaving this out of your objective is a very common mistake people make with their resumes. It is also very important to tailor each objective to the specific job you are applying for.
The third thing that should be listed on your resume depends on your educational and work history. If you have just recently graduated then you probably don’t have very much related work experience. If this is the case then you would list your education in your resumes third section. If you have a lot of related work experience or very little education then you should list your work experience in the third portion of your resume. In this section you are basically telling your potential employers about your educational background. Include your degrees (B.A., B.S., ect.), major, intuition attended, and your minors and/or concentration. You should list your grade point average if it is above 3.0 and should also mention any academic honors. Don’t forget to list your academic information starting with your most recent.
4. Work Experience
In this section you should describe your previous work experience and what you have gained through your work experiences. It is very important to use action words (see chart below) to describe what you have done for that company through your duties. Include the title of your position, the name of the company, location, dates of employment, and specific skills used and learned from that particular work experience. Start with your current or last job and work backwards.
5. Other Information
Including this section is optional and is dependant on your previous experiences. Here you can list any accomplishments, skills, or abilities you have learned, courses you have taken (first aid, cpr, ect.), awards you have won, or any volunteer work you have done.
It is important to list several references for your potential employers to contact, anywhere’s from three to five references will be sufficient. If you can have at least three business references, and no more then two personal. Make sure you ask your references if it is fine with them and if they will give you a positive reference before listing them on your resume. If you do not have any references add “References furnished on request” to this section.
7. Checking Your Resume
Before you submit your resume to any potential employers there are several things you should do to make sure it doesn’t contain any mistakes. Run your resume through a spell check program to see if there are any grammatical errors. Give your resume to several friends and family members and ask for their opinion on it and see if they can find any grammatical oversights.
8. Resume Design
Many people have great resumes content wise but ruin it in the design process. A resume should look very professional and doesn’t need to be visually stimulating. You should stick to a plain white or an off white 8.5” X 11” paper, use a non-decorative font, only use one typeface, avoid italicizing or underlining words, and don’t include any images, shading, or vertical lines. Out of courtesy you should staple or fold your resume, if you have to mail it then use a large envelope.
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