Road to a Résumé
A résumé documents your qualifications and summarizes your personal, educational, and experiential skills. It is a marketing tool and should be unique in order to highlight your capabilities as they relate to a job or position. Résumés can be used by candidates applying for work, graduate school, or scholarships/fellowships.
Style of a Résumé
The format should attract attention AND create interest!
- Choose appropriate categories for your information and list them in order of relevance to your career objective.
- Once you’ve selected a format, be consistent within categories. The résumé should be easy to follow and pleasing to the eye.
- use capitalization, italics, bold, indentations, white space, and underlining to emphasize important information. Howver, do NOT overdo it.
- Make sure to research formats for your field!
How long your resume can be depends in the purpose for which you are using it.
- In the private, non-profit and government sectors, the traditional resume length is one page.
- Multi-page resumes may be appropriate when applying to graduate school programs, scholarships, or more academically oriented programs.
- Keep in mind the maxim, “quality over quantity” Select ONLY those experiences which strongly support your candidacy for a particular position.
- It may be helpful to keep a multi page master resume, which documents all of your experiences and then save different, one-page versions of your resume targeted at particular positions.
Resumes follow several formats, but certain elements of the resume have become standard.
- A resume MUST present a positive image! Keep in mind that while a resume is an essential tool in your job search, it is not meant as a substitute for the interview.
- The resume is a summary, so you can use bullets or incomplete sentences to describe your job duties and accomplishments.
- Some people feel the resume should be action-oriented, reflecting a more assertive and confident job seeker. Others are more comfortable with a neutral tone demonstrating qualifications and experience without much attention to assertiveness or salesmanship. Ultimately, the tone and content of your resume should be customized according to your career field and prospective employer.
The Two Basic Formats
Chronological (or General)
A chronological resume lists and dates the details of each job and educational experience separately. Listings under each category are placed in reverse chronological order, starting with the most recent experience. This method is most appropriate if you have uninterrupted work experience in the area in which you seek employment. It is also the most common approach, so employers should already be familiar with this format.
A functional resume consists of selections from your total experience which relate to the job you seek. Under each category, list qualifications, skills, experiences, etc. that logically support your job objective. This approach is more difficult to construct but maybe more effective in documenting the skills or functions you want to perform, especially if your background is varied. Functional resumes are generally NOT appropriate for recent college graduates. However, a combination of these two forms may be appropriate.
Resume Categories of Information
Your name, full address, and phone number(s) with the area code should be the first items on your resume.
If you are living at a temporary address, you can include this in addition to (or in place of) your permanent address, DEPENDING ON CIRCUMSTANCES. It is important to include your email address, but make sure it is professional and doesn’t contain slang and profanity.
- Professional Objective
This should be your career objective, stated as concisely possible.
- It should be specific enough to give an element of career direction to your resume.
- If you are planning to seek employment in several different areas where the same objective would not be appropriate, consider writing resume for each.
- Remember to state clearly whether you are looking for an internship or a part-time or full-time job.
- An alternative is to exclude a career objective from your resume and relay the information in the cover letter. The problem occurs when cover letters and resume get separated.
- Statements concerning your objective should be continually reinforced throughout your resume.
The highest level achieved (or the degree you are currently seeking) should come first, using reverse chronological order, and continue backward with other schools attended, degrees earned or training received. You may list the degree earned before university attended when highlighting your field of study.
- It is NOT necessary to include high school. However, if some items in your high school background show high honors or generally reinforce the career objective, then you might consider including that data.
- List the names of schools, degrees earned, major/minor subjects, and graduation dates.
- You may include honors, awards, Dean’s list. Grade point average (if 3.0 or above), and other items which may enhance your resume, such as study abroad.
- Consider listing selected courses you have taken or research projects that demonstrate your abilities.
- If you have a long list of activities, select only the most important. You can include separate categories, such as “Honors/Awards” or “activities”. Listing all of these items under the Education heading can make your resume look cluttered.
This category typically reflects your contact with specific employers. Feel free to include internships, co-ops, part-time jobs, volunteer work, summer jobs, special projects, or military experience under this category.
- If you have several experience related to your objective or target audience, you may wish to list those under “Related Experience” and your other experiences under “Other or additional Experience.”
- List position titles, names of organizations, locations (city and state), start and end dates, duties, and accomplishments.
Employers are interested in the degree of responsibility you held and the skills you demonstrated. Outline your duties in a way that emphasizes your job experience at the same time related it to your professional objective. For example:
Crew Supervisor, McDonalds’s
Tallahassee, FL, 1/14 – Present
- Manage operations and supervise 19 co-workers
- Compile inventory data and maintain stock
- Assist in hiring and training new employees
Always start with positive action words () to identify and document you skills and accomplishments from your past experiences.
Remember, any experience in the world of work may be capable of demonstrating your dependability, resourcefulness, and responsibility, including internships, volunteer experience, leadership positions, class projects, part-time work, etc. Choose items that show your qualifications and experience to your best advantage!
To document your references, list the names, titles, addresses, telephone numbers, and email addresses of at least three people on a separate page, with a 4thand/ or 5th reference as back-up. References should NOT be included within the resume.
Be sure your references can speak about your experience or knowledge of a specific subject matter.
Remember to ask their permission before listing them as a reference, and make sure to provide your references with a copy of your resume. Offer this list to the employer only when requested!
- Personal (Optional)
Personal information about age, gender, marital status, and ethnicity is typically NOT included on a resume. Exceptions to this guideline exist for certain occupations (e.g., acting or modeling) when physical appearance is a factor in the hiring decision. It is also important to note that this information may be necessary when writing a resume for use abroad.
Other information, such as hobbies and interests, may be included if it is relevant to the position to which you are applying or speaks to acquired skills.
- Other Categories
The previous categories are a foundation for a resume, but there are many other options. Some possibilities include, but are not limited to:
- Campus Involvement
- Computer Skills
- Leadership Experience
- Professional Activities/Organizations
- Project Management
- Recitals/Art Shows
- Research Experience
- Special Skills
- Teaching Experience
Sample of a CHRONOLOGICAL FORMAT
If you have information that you feel is important but does not fit any of the above categories, create sections to encompass this information and/or requirements of specific job targets.
You may also have categories unique to your field of study (for example, clinical nursing experience). The key is creating categories that best fit the position(s) you are seeking!