Résumé Writing: A Personal Experience
If the cover letter is the introductory smile, the résumé is the formal handshake. Together they are designed to get you in the door for that all-important first interview. Résumés are used to make a good impression on a prospective employer. Think of it as the first impression a potential employer has of you. Simply put, it is often referred to as one of the most crucial steps taken during a job search
A résumé is an advertisement of yourself! Like a job application form, the résumé summarizes skills, training, education, and experience; however, the résumé focuses on positives that show you are well-qualified for the job you are seeking. The résumé provides detail about accomplishments that are often impossible to include on the employer's application form.
A résumé will help you make contact when an employer is not available or is not willing to interview. It can also arouse an employer's interest so that he or she will consider you for current or future openings. In other situations it might even give you an edge over competitors without résumés.
Employers may spend less than ten seconds skimming a résumé, so present your information carefully and concisely. Do not write in complete sentences; instead, use lively phrases and action verbs such as "operated", "coordinated", and "assisted." Avoid using abbreviations or slang and omit all personal pronouns. Use the present tense for ongoing activities and the past tense for completed activities.
Résumé Writing Quick Tips
Not sure how to get started? Review the Resume Writing Introduction along with the information listed below for more details.
Afterwards, be sure to put this information to use by using the résumé builder in your College Central Network (CCN) account.
The content of a resume can be organized in different ways. Three different types of organization are the chronological resume, the functional resume, and the combination resume, defined as follows:
- CHRONOLOGICAL - In this resume, jobs are listed in time order with the most recent job listed first. The duties and responsibilities acquired in each job are listed below the job title, employer name, and dates, either in paragraph or bullet form. This is a good format for the person who has had a consistent and uninterrupted work history and whose recent experience is the most relative to the job objective, and the position for which they are applying.
- FUNCTIONAL - In this resume, the main emphasis is on the skills that have been acquired in a variety of settings, (work, school, volunteer). Skills are grouped together by categories such as "communication skills", "teaching skills", "office skills", "administrative skills", "computer skills" or "organizational skills". This type of resume is good for career changers, inexperienced job seekers, and those who have a large gap in their work history. When using this format, your work history is still reported in a separate heading/section of the resume, but the skills are not listed under each job since that has been accomplished by the skill categories.
- Combination - The combination style uses elements from both the chronological and functional resumes. This style can be used by either students or experienced workers. This format helps to highlight capabilities and transferable skills.
Your résumé must be:
Well organized - Take the time that is needed to prepare your resume. Resume writing is a process. Think of resume writing as similar to a research project wherein you do a self-analysis (research), a first draft, and then a final draft. Be sure that the final draft of your resume is something that you are proud of and that your strengths, skills and experiences are evident.
Factual - All information on your resume must be true and accurate. Be sure to list all jobs, regardless of the reasons you may have had for leaving that position. Additionally, be sure that you list your work experience, duties and responsibilities without understating or overstating your qualifications
Free from errors - It is imperative that your resume is free from errors. Use the "spell check" function on your word processing program. Review all details of the information to be sure that proper names are spelled correctly. Check grammar and punctuation. When your final draft of your resume is prepared, have an instructor, staff person, or an objective friend review the resume for content and accuracy.
Your résumé must be:
Easy to read -- Take a look at how the resume fits on the paper. Does the information in the resume flow from the most important information relevant to the employer first, with the least relevant information to the employer last? Is it easy to read? Does your resume have enough "white space" meaning that the margins at all sides of the resume are kept to a one inch minimum, with adequate spacing between items?
Paper weight -- A heavier paper known as "bond" paper is preferable for your resume. You can find resume paper in college bookstores, office supply stores, and even local discount stores. Generally this paper is sold pre-packaged and packages of envelopes in matching colors are available as well. In some office supply stores resume paper can be purchased "by the sheet." The weight of the paper should be 24 lb. or 28 lb. Acceptable paper colors for resumes are white as well as other light colors including ivory, cream, tan, beige, or light gray. Matching envelopes are an added professional touch.
Print quality -- It is preferable that your resume is prepared on a word processor or type set. Laser quality printing is almost a "must" for your resume. If you have one original of a laser quality printed resume, you can take that original to a printing service and have the resume duplicated onto resume paper.