Writing a Resume

An in-depth look at the essential elements of an effective Resume, tips on formatting, action words to use as well as things to avoid while putting your resume together.

Resume Review

Our librarians will review and proofread your resume or cover letter and offer feedback on recommended edits and changes, including grammar, formatting, and overall layout.

What is a Resume?

  • A brief summary of your skills, accomplishments, and history as it relates to a potential job;
  • A selling tool used to get an interview; and
  • A way to highlight your strengths while leaving off negative or damaging details.
  • There are negative details and other damaging points are left off;
  • There are no hard and fast “rules” for constructing resumes, but there are general guidelines that should be followed.

Why Include a Resume?

Sometimes a resume is optional: Include it anyway because it

  • demonstrates how seriously you take the position;
  • is something you can keep on hand to summarize your strengths & accomplishments;
  • will better prepare you for questions during interviews and boost your overall confidence.

The Information Needed for Creating a Great Resume

  • Job Opportunity for Which You Are Applying
  • Personal Profile
    Who are you? How do you fit that job?
  • Personal Information
    Name
    Address
    Email address
    Cell phone
    Home phone
  • Education
    Name of each school
    City and state
    Dates attended
    GPA (if excellent)
    Certification or degree
  • Recent Places of Employment*
    Your title
    Name of company or institute
    Address
    Dates of employment
    Duties and accomplishments
  • Key skills
  • Presentations and/or publications
  • Awards and honors
  • Professional and/or service organizations

*In order to apply online, you might need your supervisor’s name, title, company address, email and/or phone number.

Types of Resumes

Chronological

  • Most common resume type.
  • Work history is given priority.
  • Listed in reverse chronological order, starting with current or most recent.
  • Education and other experience is typically placed underneath.

Functional

  • Skills, achievements, and other important highlights are given priority.
  • Education typically placed at top, work history placed toward the bottom.
  • Best suited for:
    • New graduates with little relevant work experience, -OR-
    • Those with much experience & who have accomplished much in their field.

Formatting the Chronological Resume

  • Less is more!
  • Avoid overusing different font sizes, font types, bold, italics, underlining, and other stylistic options.
  • Use 10 – 12 point font throughout. (You can go a bit bigger for contact information.)
  • Stick to a formal font type: Times New Roman or Arial are great choices.
  • White space is good!
    • White space keeps things organized and easy to read.
    • Leave blank lines between different sections.
    • Set page margins to 1” – 0.5”.

Should It Be Only One Page?

  • The number of pages may depend on your work experience in relation to the job opening.
  • A second page is okay:
    • General rule – if your next page is LESS THAN HALF full, pare down to the fewest amount of pages possible.
    • Example: If the second page has only four lines, find a way to reformat so that the resume is only 1 page.
  • Tight and focused is better than wordy and irrelevant.

Employment Section

  • List jobs in reverse chronological order, present or most recent job first.
  • Going back 1-15 years is okay, especially if you feel an older job is particularly relevant to the job you are applying for.
  • If you held many similar jobs during that time, avoid listing all of them. Stick to the most recent 5 years.
  • List your duties & accomplishments for each job title. 3-5 bullet points is perfect.
  • Be sure to use action verbs at the beginning of each sentence and avoid using “I”.

Formatting a Resume Using Google Docs

Your Resume: Things to Avoid

  • Personal information (marital status, religion, race, etc.).
  • Letters of recommendation, unless directed otherwise. These typically come after an interview.
  • References, unless directed otherwise. This practice is outdated. Have a list of references ready in case you’re asked for them after an interview.
  • Salary Requirements. If salary requirements are necessary, employers will ask for them, and they will typically be part of the cover letter, not the resume. If included, be sure to indicate a salary range (e.g., $40,000 – $50,000), not a single salary.
  • Negative details. These can work against you.
  • Clichés. Try to avoid phrases like “team player” and “strong communication skills” as these are overused.
  • When describing your experience, start each sentence with an action verb. Do not use “I” when describing your experience.

Your Resume: Key Points

  • A resume is your way of highlighting your skills and accomplishments.
  • Don’t include negative details; save these for the interview (only if asked!).
  • Always send a resume if given the option.
  • In a chronological resume, employment experience is given priority. List jobs starting with most recent.
  • When formatting, remember: less is more!
  • Be consistent with stylistic choices (bullets, font size, font type, etc.) and don’t overuse them (bold, underline, italics, etc.).

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