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Writing an Effective Resume
Download 'Writing an Effective Resume'
(Adobe Acrobat .pdf file 1.23MB)

Resume Samples:
Resume Cronological Sample 1         (Adobe Acrobat .pdf file 24KB)
Resume Cronological Sample 2         (Adobe Acrobat .pdf file 92KB)
Resume Combination Sample
          (Adobe Acrobat .pdf file 27KB)



Resumes are short documents that display a person's talents, skills and accomplishments to potential employers. Employers use resumes to weed through stacks of applicants in order to find the most qualified candidates to interview. The resume has one purpose: to get you an interview. Because the typical hiring manager looks at each resume for less than 30 seconds, it is imperative to have a resume that effectively displays your skills, will attract the employer's attention and can be read in a very short time. This packet is designed to help you write an extraordinary resume.

Added Bonus: People who spend time and thought on their resume do a much better job interviewing because the resume writing process helps them learn how to relate their talents and accomplishments.

General Guidelines

Before we get into resume structure or headings, let's start with some general guidelines for writing resumes. These guidelines will help you determine your resume's organization and the best way to proceed.

Resumes as Marketing Pieces – Think about your resume as a marketing piece or personal advertisement. For every commercial you see, a lot of thought has gone into creating just the right message that will grab your attention and make you want to purchase the product shown. To create the correct message, most advertising companies:

•  Research their market

•  Develop a clear message

•  Put together an attractive advertisement specifically targeting their audience

You should put the same type of thought into your resume.

Research – Research each employer to whom you will be sending your resume. Research allows you to understand what the employer is looking for and how to design your resume accordingly. This will ensure your resume gets noticed.

Be Brief – Resumes should be a quick outline of your accomplishments, qualifications, and experiences. In most cases resumes should be limited to one page. Two pages can be used if you have a lot of relevant education and experience. The key is to make sure all the information included is relevant to the job and is related concisely.

Be Organized – No matter which style of resume you choose, display your information in an organized and efficient manner. Readers should be able to pick out information quickly and easily. Arrange categories to reflect your strengths in the most advantageous way and avoid cluttered groupings and long paragraphs.


HOT Tip – Using bullets, underlines, bolded lettering and different font sizes help the eye separate categories and pick out specific accomplishments.


List Accomplishments – Many people write resumes that list duties without informing the reader about the scope or quality of what they have achieved. Accomplishments on the other hand, tell exactly what you were able to do, how well you were able to do it, and the impact your activities had for the organization.

Example that is not an accomplishment:

•  Worked with a quality assurance and training program.

Example of an accomplishment

•  Initiated a quality assurance and training program that lead to 20% reduction in reported Technologist errors.

Use Buzz Words – Each industry has buzz words or skills that are vital to that field. Get to know your field's “buzz words” and incorporate them into your resume.

Did You Know – Many large organizations use computer systems to scan resumes for key words. Only those resumes containing designated words get reviewed.

Start Accomplishments With Action Verbs – Action verbs like managed, directed, won or increased all grab the reader's attention.

Don't Lie – It's okay to put your experiences in the best light possible but lying is a definite no, no. Not only is it unethical but it can damage your professional reputation.

Pay Attention To Details – A resume is supposed to represent your best effort. Mistakes on a resume will make an employer question the quality of your daily work. In many cases, mistakes will immediately eliminate you from further consideration. Proofread your resume carefully. Also, have friends, family, and colleagues proofread it.

Mistakes To Watch For

•  Watch out for addresses and personal information. In many cases you are the only one who can catch these mistakes.

•  Watch out for transposed numbers.

•  Make sure spacing and punctuation is consistent.

Additional Quick Tips:

  • Use simple, easy to read fonts.
  • Avoid artwork or photos.
  • Do not cram too much information into small spaces and create cluttered looking documents.
  • Keep descriptions clear.
  • Do not include references.

Resume Styles

The style of resume you should choose depends upon many factors including: the type of job you want, how much experience you have and whether or not you are changing careers. Select a style that presents your qualifications as effectively as possible. Always keep the employer in mind when you build your resume. Generally, there are three basic types of resumes: chronological, functional, and combination.

Chronological Resumes – Chronological resumes categorize information in reverse order of occurrence. In other words, these resumes group achievements by job, school or organization starting with the most recent. Chronological resumes are generally used:

•  By recently graduated students.

•  People who have a solid work history of progressively increasing responsibility in a particular field.

•  People who have one or two solid jobs.

Functional Resumes – Functional resumes list achievements under specific skill areas and do not give dates or display an applicant's employment or educational history. Career Services does not recommend this type of resume because employers become suspicious of candidates who are not willing to outline work and educational history.

Combination - Combination resumes combine the best features of chronological and functional resumes. Experiences are listed in chronological order but organized under skills or topic headings. These are used when:

•  Your skills will be better highlighted by a combination resume rather than the chronological or functional styles.

•  You want to highlight significant experiences without necessarily placing your most recent experience first.

What To Include In A Resume

Heading – Include your name, address, telephone number and email address

HOT Tip – Make sure your e-mail address is professional. E-mail addresses that contain foul language, sexual references or are just plain wacky leave a bad impression.

Objective or Personal Profile - Either is fine.

Objectives - Objectives list your employment goal. If you write an objective make sure it is very specific and shows you want the particular job for which you are applying. Many resumes are disregarded because of objectives that are too broad and reflect a candidate that doesn't care where or with whom he/she gets a job.

Personal Profile/Professional Summary/ Professional Highlights

Personal profiles summarize the skills, talents, and abilities you can bring to a particular position.


HOT Tip – Use the job description to help you write a profile that addresses the employer's needs.


Education – Display your degree, where you went to school and the date your degree was or will be completed. Where education is placed on your resume should depend upon the amount of work experience you have. If you are just graduating, education should come before work experience. If you have been in a field for a while, experience should come before education.

Experience/Employment – List your accomplishments. Make sure to show what you were able to do, how well you were able to do it, and the impact of your activities. If you are writing a chronological resume include your position title, employer's name and location and the dates you were employed. If you are writing a combination resume, categorize your achievements by skill areas and outline your employment history on a different area of your resume.


HOT Tip –List skill areas and accomplishments most desired by the employer first.


Other Resume Titles You May Wish To Include – Each individual is unique and may wish to include additional headings. Additional headings should show valuable skills or experiences that don't fit neatly into other categories. Some common additional headings include: Computer Skills, Honors or Awards, Licenses, Professional Involvement, Professional Membership or Volunteer Work.

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