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Résumé Writing Guide

STOP -- Before you go any further, call the Center and schedule an appointment with a counselor so they can review your resume once you have it typed.

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Your Resume

The resume is an essential component of your job search. It is a summary of your educational background, work experience, skills, and career objective. Think of it as a personal advertisement of your abilities and achievements that will communicate your value to potential employers. Take extra time to write the resume. Do it carefully. Remember-YOUR RESUME GETS YOU THE INTERVIEW.

Resume Writing Tips

  • Prepare your resume using word processing.
  • Keep your resume to one page, if possible. If you have several years of full-time experience, a two-page resume is acceptable.
  • Be specific.
  • Be honest.
  • Use concise language. Get to the point.
  • Use action verbs to write your job description.
  • Make your resume visually appealing. Pay attention to graphics, layout, and spacing. A resume should be easy to read with the most important information on top.
  • Proofread your resume. Ask a friend or family member to proof it as well. Typos are inexcusable-employers eliminate candidates whose resumes contain typographical errors.
  • Print copies as you need them on quality bond paper.

Types of Resumes

The two basic formats for resumes are chronological and functional. Combining the two is an innovation which allows more flexibility in the presentation of your qualifications. Which resume style should you choose? Remember that your resume is a sales tool presented in a format that best reflects what YOU have to offer.

The Chronological Resume

The chronological resume is traditional and frequently used by recent graduates. It remains popular with experienced job seekers as well. In this format, place information in reverse chronological order, with your most recent education or position listed first. Names, dates and places of employment are listed along with a job description. Education and work experience are grouped separately. This style of resume is easy to understand and is generally well received by employers. See the following pages for the elements to include in a chronological resume.

The Functional Resume

People with varied work experiences, career changers and those with gaps in employment often use the functional resume. This format downplays dates and groups similar experience, talents, and qualifications regardless of when they occurred. It highlights special skills that might not stand out in the chronological style. When creating a functional resume, consider the position for which you are applying. The headings you choose should highlight the strengths, qualities and transferable skills that match your prospective employer's needs.

The Combination Resume

Today many resumes mix elements of both the chronological and functional and follow a format called combination or hybrid. The combination resume is versatile and is often the format of choice for individuals with career experience. It usually incorporates a summary section that highlights contributions and achievements. Next, it would include a description of functional skills with no reference to employers. That would be followed by a work history with job titles, dates and employers. Finally, list educational credentials and any other unique aspects of your background.

The Technical Resume

Technology has changed the world of work and the employment market in the past decade. This is reflected in resume presentation for technology professionals, support staff and technology management positions. Be sure to display your e-mail address prominently at the top of the page as it is the preferred method of communication within the technology industry. If you have a URL where you have posted a web resume also display that address at the top of your resume. Technical positions require resumes that highlight industry certifications and feature a definite, specialized skill set. Therefore, it is important that an applicant's certifications and skill set should be clearly and prominently placed using industry relevant terms. While there is no set format, technical skills should be presented just below the objective, in list form if possible, and organized to meet the requirements of the position. It is a good idea to keep a technical resume constantly updated.

Elements of a Resume

YOUR NAME
Street Address
City, State, Zip Code
Area Code and Phone Number
E-mail

OBJECTIVE: State the name of the position you want. Be specific and concise. Change the objective as needed to match the position for which you are applying.

SUMMARY: Include the most important qualifications, skills and experience that you want employers to know. This Professional Profile or Highlights of Qualifications section is optional.

EDUCATION: List most recent college or college you are currently attending first. For each school list major field of study, date (month and year) or anticipated date of graduation. Include GPA if 3.0 or higher.

HONORS: List academic honors and achievements including Dean's List (include dates), honor societies and awards.

RELEVANT COURSES: List any courses which are related to the job you are seeking. Use this section if you are still enrolled in school. College graduates do not need to list related course work.

EXPERIENCE: Begin with most recent position first. List job title, name of organization, city, state, and dates of employment. Write a job description using action verbs which highlight skills that are transferable to the job you are seeking.

SKILLS: Software, hardware and any computer languages with which you are familiar. List fluency or working knowledge of foreign
language(s). Include any specialized equipment used in your industry.

EXTRA-CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES: List organizations on or off campus and include positions held with dates.

REFERENCES: Available upon request.

Other categories you may include are:

CERTIFICATIONS: List the names of certifications you have attained.

PRESENTATIONS: Include presentations you have made to various groups, including title, sponsoring group, city, state and date.

PROFESSIONAL WORKSHOPS/TRAINING ATTENDED: List the name of workshops/training sessions you attended related to your career field.

PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS: List associations in which you are a member, any position you hold within the association, and dates you are/were a member.

Action Verbs

ACCELERATE DISTRIBUTE LEARN RECOMMEND
ACTIVATE EARN LECTURE RECORD
ADAPT EDIT LEAD RECRUIT
ADMINISTER EFFECT LISTEN REDUCE
ADVISE ELIMINATE LOCATE REFER
ANALYZE ENSURE LOG REINFORCE
ANTICIPATE ENTERTAIN MAINTAIN RENDER
APPRAISE ESTABLISH MANAGE REORGANIZE
APPROVE ESTIMATE MASTER REPAIR
ARBITRATE EVALUATE MEASURE REPEAT
ARRANGE EXAMINE MEDIATE REPRESENT
ASSEMBLE EXECUTE MODERATE RESEARCH
ASSIGN EXHIBIT MONITOR REVAMP
ASSIST EXPAND MOTIVATE REVIEW
AUDIT EXPEDITE MOVE REVISE
AUTHORIZE EXPERIENCE NEGOTIATE REWRITE
BUDGET EXPLAIN OBSERVE ROUTE
BUILD FACILITATE OBTAIN SCHEDULE
CALCULATE FIX ORDER SERVE
COACH FOLLOW-UP ORGANIZE SERVICE
COLLECT FORMULATE ORIGINATE SET UP
COMPILE FOSTER OVERSEE SIMPLIFY
COMPLETE FIND PARTICIPATE SKETCH
CONCEIVE GENERATE PERFORM SOLVE
CONDUCT GOVERN PERSUADE SORT
CONSOLIDATE GUIDE PINPOINT SPEAK
CONSTRUCT HANDLE PIONEER STREAMLINE
CONSULT IMPLEMENT PLAN STRUCTURE
CONTROL IMPROVE PREDICT STUDY
COORDINATE INCREASE PREPARE SUPERINTEND
CORRESPOND INDEX PRESCRIBE SUPERVISE
COUNSEL INITIATE PRESENT SUPPORT
CREATE INSPECT PRESIDE SYSTEMIZE
DECIDE INSTALL PROCESS TEACH
DELEGATE INSTITUTE PRODUCE TEST
DELIVER INSTRUCT PROGRAM TIME
DEMONSTRATE INTERPRET PROMOTE TRAIN
DESIGN INTERVENE PROPOSE TRANSLATE
DETECT INTERVIEW PROTECT TREAT
DETERMINE INVENT PROVE UPDATE
DEVELOP INVESTIGATE PROVIDE WORK
DIRECT ISSUE QUESTION WRITE
DISCOVER JUDGE READ

E-Resumes

With the popularity of the computer, resumes are now being scanned into the computer, put on web sites, and sent via E-mail and the Internet. Three types of electronic resumes are listed below.

Scannable Resume

It has become increasingly popular to use scannable resumes. A scannable resume can be stored in an employer's human resource database or an independent database that will be accessed by many companies. Once your resume has been scanned into the database, the paper copy may be discarded.

Since a computer will scan your resume, it needs to be written so that it can be properly retrieved. Keep the following suggestions in mind when creating your scannable resume.

Use:

  • Key words, including:
    • Action verbs that clearly explain your job responsibilities
    • Industry-specific terms that highlight knowledge of your field
    • Specific names of computer software
  • Standard 12 point typeface (Arial, Courier, Times New Roman)
  • Capital letters to emphasize important information
  • Black ink on white, non-textured 8½ by 11 inch paper

Avoid:

  • Underlining, boldface or italics
  • Fancy graphics including boxes, shading and vertical/horizontal lines
  • Folding or stapling your resume
  • Printing on both sides of the paper. If you have a two page resume, make sure your name is on top of the second page

In order to keep pace with the new technology, job seekers should consider having two versions of their resume-a scannable and a traditional, more attractive printed one.

E-mail or ASCII Resume

An ASCII resume is a plain, text-only version with no frills like bulleting, bolding, or graphics. It is copied or typed directly into the message box of E-mail. ASCII stands for American Standard Code Information Interchange. It allows computers using any software to read and understand text.

This format works when employers cannot open your attached resume. If there is a problem downloading the attached Word document, they will still have the plain text or ASCII version. It compiles all of the information into one neat package and also shortens the time that an employer needs to look at your resume. An attached file, or a non-ASCII resume sent in the message box, may not be received in a readable, nice-looking format on the receiver's end.

Make sure to save your ASCII resume under a different file name so you do not lose your original. Left justify your information, and remove all special characters. Also, you may want to remove your street address so you do not end up on mailing lists. The simplest way to design this style of resume is to use only those keys found on a standard keyboard (do not use the mouse). Also, do not use the Tab, Alt, Ctrl, and F1-F12 keys.

Include within the first 15-20 lines, the information and keywords that will sell you.

Multimedia Resume

A multimedia resume is your own personal web site. Employers can click through your site to review your qualifications. Typically, this style is more appropriate for the technological and artistic job seeker such as a Webmaster, software engineer, and graphic designer.

Sample Resumes

ASCII Resume Example

Your Name
Your Town, State Zip
Your Phone
E-mail
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

OBJECTIVE

Administrative Assistant position in the Marketing Department at Best Foods, Inc.

SKILLS

Computer: Windows NT/XP; Microsoft Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Publisher and
Outlook; HTML, Dreamweaver, Internet

Type 65 wpm

Language: Bilingual in Spanish and English

EDUCATION

AAS, Business Technologies - Office Systems Technology
Bergen Community College, Paramus, NJ
Date of Graduation: May 2003
GPA: 3.5/4.0

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

CLERICAL ASSISTANT

Bergen Town Accountants, Paramus, NJ
Oct. 1999 to Present

+ Manage all records for 10 Accountants
+ Created new filing system improving efficiency
+ Utilize Excel spreadsheets to store client information
+ Set client appointments, answer questions in person and over the telephone

DATA ENTRY OPERATOR

Fleet Bank, Fair Lawn, NJ
Sept. 1998 to Oct. 1999

+ Entered invoices, checks and payments

ACTIVITIES

Office volunteer, St. Mary's Church (Paramus, NJ)
Secretary, DECA Club (Bergen Community College)