Crafting a Resume

Resumé Construction

A resumé is a synopsis of your academic, extra-curricular, and work experiences. Your resumé serves as an introduction to potential employers. Your resumé also helps the employer formulate an opinion of you. It is essential that your resumé present the most attractively written picture of yourself so that employers are likely to want to interview you.

Resumé formats vary greatly, leaving no absolute rules on what should and should not be included. The guidelines presented here will help you to write a clear, concise report of your academic, extra-curricular, and work experiences in a form that most employers find effective and easy to read.


1. Before you are ready to write your resumé, carefully assess your talents, skills, abilities, and the areas you want to pursue. This assessment should be done in a methodical way. Note: Skill identification exercises are available in the Career Services Office.

2. Although your resumé acts as a marketing device, all of the information included in it must be factual. Your qualifications should be emphasized, but not exaggerated.

3. A logical, well-phrased, and concise presentation is of the utmost importance. Eye-catching gimmicks or elaborately designed resumés may cause the employer to react negatively.

4. Brevity is important, but not at the expense of accuracy. The general rule is that a resumé should be one page in length. The one page rule is usually possible for individuals seeking their first full-time for a professional position. For persons with several years of experience, two, possibly three pages may be necessary. Pertinent information should not be omitted for the sake of space.

Suggestions for Writing Your Resumé

1. Get assistance from the Career Services Office on any detail that is unclear.

2. Make a rough draft or several drafts before submitting your final typed resumé.

3. Use perfect spelling and grammar.

Style and Content

1. Heading
The heading of your resumé should be centered and include your name, street address, city, state, zip code, area code, and a phone number at which you are most likely to be reached. If you have two addresses during the year, include both your home address and campus address. Your name should stand out on the page. Suggestions for bringing attention to your name are typing your name all in capital letters or using bold-faced type.

The resumé can have as many as ten sections, each of which has a title. The sections usually occur in order of importance. The titles should also stand out.

2. Objective
The first section of your resumé should begin with an objective. The objective can simply be entitled "Objective," "Career Objective," "Job Objective," or "Professional Objective." Do not include more than one objective in the same resumé.

Two Basic Objective Styles:

General: This type of objective refers to the type of position you are seeking.

A position as a management trainee.
A position as a lab technician.
A position in marketing research.
A position as a sales representative.
A position in a social service agency.

Specific: This type of objective is a statement of the type of position you are seeking, the skills or knowledge you wish to use, and the type of organization or work environment you prefer.

A position in marketing research, with a large company in which my knowledge of the marketplace and my quantitative skill can be utilized.
A position in a small advertising agency in which my creative and communication abilities will be utilized.
A position in the field of mental health in which my counseling skills and knowledge of human behavior can be utilized.

3. Education
Begin with the school you are currently attending. Include your graduation date (year and month), the title of degree (BA or BS), and your major. You can list any other college you attended and/or degrees received. Grade point average can be cited directly and should be cited if 3.0 or over. It is appropriate to mention your general class standing, such as "graduated in top third of class." If you received any scholarships or have worked to pay your tuition and expenses, you should so state. For example: "Financed 50% of tuition through working full- and part-time jobs." High School need not be mentioned. If you graduated as valedictorian or salutatorian, you may want to mention it here.

4. Relevant Courses or Pertinent Courses (optional)
Listing courses is particularly helpful for students with limited work experience or for students who have a career objective not related to their major. For students with an objective unrelated to their major, electives or concentration areas may be listed. No more than four to six courses should be listed.

5. Pre-Professional Experiences (suggested if applicable)
Pre-professional experience is any experience you've had related to your career objective. This experience can be paid, volunteer, and/or internship experience. If you have more than one professional experience, list in reverse chronological order. A brief description of your responsibilities and duties should be given. Do not begin each sentence with "duties included," or "responsible for." Instead, use ACTION WORDS (see list following this section). Include your title/position, company or organization name, city, state.

6. Work Experience
List work experience in reverse chronological order (most recent first). Include your title/position, company or organization name, city, state. Provide a brief description of your responsibilities. Use numbers to describe your accomplishments whenever possible.

Managed $25,000 budget.
Supervised 20 people.
100 client contact hours.
Developed and implemented three programs.

7. Special Skills or Special Knowledge (suggested if applicable)
List any special skills or knowledge you possess. This section is also helpful for students with limited work experience.

Examples: COBOL, LOTUS 1-2-3, fluent in French, Spanish, Knowledge of Microsoft Office, data entry.

8. Extra-Curricular Activities (optional)
List participation in college, professional, or community activities with emphasis on any office or leadership position held.

Examples: Student Government Association, Marketing Club, Alpha Phi Omega, Sociology Club, Civic Associations.

9. Honors and Awards
List any honors or awards you have received. Examples: Dean's List, Who's Who Among American College Students, Most Outstanding Leader (1996).

10. Interests or Hobbies (optional)
List your hobbies or any other interests you have. This section provides the employer with a glimpse of your personal side and may help to establish rapport during the interview. Examples: Golf, writing, poetry, reading, photography, weight lifting.

11. Military Experience
Include branch, dates of active duty, type of discharge, and a brief description of duties.

12. Note
You can note willingness to travel and/or relocate. Only make note of this if you are truly willing.

13. References
It is not necessary to list references on your resumé. You can simply state "References furnished upon request" if there is space at the bottom. Make sure you can back up this statement. Develop a list of three or four people who are familiar with your career plans, academic achievements, and work experience. Make sure you have consulted with these people and that they will give you a favorable recommendation before you list them as a reference. It is helpful to provide them with a copy of your resumé.

When you describe your job duties under the work experience section of your resumé, it is important to use active rather than passive words. Below is a partial list of words which could be used. Remember that present tense should be used if you are still performing those job duties. The past tense should be used if you are no longer in that job.

accelerate (d)
accomplish (ed)
account (ed)
achieve (d)
activate (d)
adapt (ed)
add (ed)
administer (ed)
advertise (d)
advise (d)
aid (ed)
allocate (d)
analyze (d)
answer (ed)
appoint (ed)
approve (d)
arbitrate (d)
arrange (d)
assemble (d)
assess (ed)
assist (ed)
assume (d)
augment (ed)
award (ed)
broaden (ed)
build (built)
buy (bought)
budget (ed)
calculate (d)
catalogue (d)
change (d)
coach (ed)
compare (d)
compile (d)
complete (d)
compute (d)
conceive (d)
condense (d)
conduct (ed)
construct (ed)
consult (ed)
contract (ed)
control (led)
cooperate (d)
coordinate (d)
counsel (ed)
create (d)
define (d)
delegate (d)
demonstrate (d)
describe (d)
design (ed)
determine (d)
develop (ed)
diagram (med)
direct (ed)
display (ed)
distribute (d)
earn (ed)
effect (ed)
eliminate (d)
employ (ed)
encourage (d)
engineer (ed)
enhance (d)
enlarge (d)
enrich (ed)
establish (ed)
evaluate (d)
examine (d)
exchange (d)
execute (d)
expand (ed)
expedite (d)
experience (d)
extend (d)
facilitate (d)
focus (ed)
follow (ed)
found (ed)
generate (d)
govern (ed)
guide (d)
handle (d)
help (ed)
hire (d)
implement (ed)
import (ed)
improve (d)
increase (d)
influence (d)
inform (ed)
initiate (d)
innovate (d)
inquire (d)
inspect (ed)
install (ed)
institute (d)
instruct (ed)
interpret (ed)
interview (ed)
introduce (d)
invent (ed)
investigate (d)
judge (d)
launch (ed)
learn (ed)
lecture (d)
list (ed)
maintain (ed)
manage (d)
market (ed)
merge (d)
modify (ied)
monitor (ed)
motivate (d)
negotiate (d)
observe (d)
organize (d)
orient (ed)
originate (d)
participate (d)
perform (ed)
persuade (d)
plan (ned)
prepare (d)
present (ed)
preside (d)
process (ed)
produce (d)
profit (ed)
program (med)
progress (ed)
project (ed)
propose (d)
prove (d)
provide (d)
publicize (d)
purchase (d)
receive (d)
recommend (ed)
reconstruct (ed)
record (ed)
recruit (ed)
redefine (d)
reduce (d)
refer (red)
regulate (d)
reinforce (d)
reorganize (d)
request (ed)
require (d)
research (ed)
respond (ed)
revamp (ed)
review (ed)
revise (d)
schedule (d)
select (ed)
set up
solve (d)
streamline (d)
strengthen (ed)
structure (d)
substitute (d)
suggest (ed)
supervise (d)
support (ed)
survey (ed)
synthesize (d)
systematize (d)
teach (taught)
tend (ed)
test (ed)
train (ed)
tutor (ed)
unify (unified)
unite (d)
update (d)
use (d)
utilize (d)
volunteer (ed)
write (wrote)
work (ed)

Electronic Resumés - A word about "Keywords"

Technology is changing the way employers are hiring. Resumés of job seekers are being entered into automated applicant tracking systems. Today resumés may be subjected to scanners and optical character recognition (OCR) software to judge which applicants are best qualified for specific job openings. A scanner is similar to a photocopy machine. It duplicates your resumé on a computer and passes it on to OCR software which makes sense out of it for the computer.

This new technology relies upon labeling to choose the most suitable resumés. And the labeling is done by using keywords. Keywords are buzzwords. They describe skills, jobs, education that indicate your degree of qualification for the position. Keywords are nouns - not verbs. In computer-read resumes, action words are almost obsolete. Nouns that state specific skills are the best kind of words to guarantee selection. The candidates with the most keywords on their resumés will emerge at the front of the pack.

Keywords can be grouped into two classifications: keywords for particular occupations and keywords for interpersonal traits. Each occupation has a certain set of keywords that describe it. It is a good idea to begin to keep a log of keywords that apply to your specific occupation or industry. Sample keyword lists are available in the book The Electronic Resume Revolution by Joyce Lain Kennedy and Thomas J. Morrow in the Career Services Office. They include keywords taken from want ads, a software database, and an executive recruiter. An example of keywords for a human resource specialist would include: compensation, benefits, recruitment, diversity, pension, training, and development.

Keywords describing interpersonal traits answer the question of whether you will do the job. They describe the kind of person you are. Resumix, a well-known company that provides resume scanning software, gives examples of the most frequently requested interpersonal trait keywords:

Ability to Delegate
Ability to Implement
Ability to Plan
Ability to Train
Aggressive Work
Analytical Ability
Communication Skills
Conceptual Ability
Customer Oriented
Detail Minded
Empowering Others
Follow Instructions
Follow Through
Follow Up
High Energy
Open Communication
Organizational Skills
Problem Solving
Public Speaking
Results Oriented
Risk Taking
Safety Conscious
Self Accountable
Self Managing
Setting Priorities
Takes Initiative
Team Building
Team Player
Willing to Travel

Guidelines for Printing & Formatting

1. Use a computer or word processor with a quality printer, as either of these can be very useful for revising and updating your resumé.

2. Use non-decorative popular fonts that are clear and do not run together.
Some examples are: Times, Helvetica, Palatino, Futura, Courier, Univers, Optima, New Century Schoolbook.

3. Use a font size of 10 to 14 points.

4. Avoid italic text, script, and underlined passages if your resumé might be electronically read. Also avoid graphics and shading.

5. Use quality bonded 8 1/2" X 11" paper. Stay with white or ivory; a light gray is acceptable. Print only on one side.

6. If you are having your resumé printed, make sure it is exactly the way you want it before handing it to the printer. PROOFREAD, PROOFREAD, and PROOFREAD again. Any mistakes are unacceptable to employers.

7. Make sure content is balanced and centered on the page.

8. Avoid compressing space between letters.

9. Use a traditional resumé structure.

10. Your name should be the first text on a resumé.

11. Do not fold or staple your resumé.

12. Always send originals.