Employers are busy. If they aren’t convinced that you are the right person for the job in the top quarter of your resume, they move on the next resume in the pile. This means your resume should be your personal advertisement. A resume should not be a list of your duties, but a list of your accomplishments and achievements.
College students and people with less than three years of experience should always use the chronological format. It presents a historical summary of the following categories: education, experience, activities, skills, honors and awards. The last two categories are optional. Skills can vary from languages to HTML to laboratory expertise.
Students often don’t know where to start when writing a resume. Keep these tips in mind as you develop the content for your resume.
- Use a professional e-mail address that you check often. Create one if you don’t have one. Employers view e-mail addresses such as “sexibaby” or “thug4life” to be unprofessional. A common method is using your first or last name or initials. If that doesn’t interest you, use something neutral.
- Create a bulleted list of statements to describe each job and activity. Start each statement with an active descriptive verb. For example: “Selected and interviewed students and professionals for features and other articles.”
- Cater your resume to each job by including relevant job and activity information.
- Put dates and locations for the following sections: education, work experience and activities. Estimate your graduation date, for example May 2005 or Dec. 2005.
- Use numbers, percentages and dollar amounts if applicable. These examples could be used for various student organizations: “Increased membership by 8 percent,” “Managed a team of 10 student workers,” or “Oversaw a $100 allocations budget.”
- Avoid writing in first or third person.
- Remember to proofread. The Writing Center notes that typos indicate carelessness and lack of details, both of which are a turnoff for employers. Have at least one other person proofread your resume.
- Keep in mind the appearance of your resume is just as important as the resume itself. Style makes a first impression and will determine whether or not you will get the job.
- Use white or off-white paper.
- Avoid graphics, fancy boxes and any other decorative items in Microsoft Word.
- Make bulleted lists. Do not write in paragraphs. Make sure all bullets are aligned.
- Use a font size between nine and 12.
- Many employers require resumes through e-mail or fax. When sending your resume as an attachment do not name your resume “resume,” as employers get hundreds of other resumes with the same exact title. Help the employer remember your name by using your name in the title of the documents. Faxes should be in a sans serif font, such as Arial or Verdana, since they scan better than serif fonts such as Times New Roman.
- Four resume topics that have always been the subject of much debate are length, the objective or summary, GPA and references.
- Keep it to one page. Two-page resumes are only used by people with extensive experience.
- Find an objective. An objective is a short phrase at the top of your resume explaining your target job, for example “A summer internship in financial accounting with a large, public accounting firm.” Only college students and recent graduates use objectives. Use one if you have a targeted job such as mentioned in the example. Do not use one when you are at a job fair, as you cannot be specific about your targeted job or are qualified for more than one position.
- Include your GPA if you are majoring in a technical field and it is above 3.0. It is optional for all other fields. However, employers in certain fields may assume it is lower if it is missing.
- Do not write “References available upon request.” List two to five references on a separate sheet of paper. Include their job titles, the name of the companies where they work, and their work addresses and phone numbers. You can choose to send a reference sheet with your resume or wait until employers ask for one.
Visit Career Development Services and the Writing Center for more information on resumes, cover letters and interviewing.
Stephanie Young can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.