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Resume Tips

The foundation of a successful job search is an effective resume. The purpose of a resume is to get the applicant a job interview by generating the employer's interest in the applicant and his/her qualifications for the position.

General Guidelines

down arrowLength:

  • A one page resume works well for current students or recent graduates.
  • Two pages are reasonable if you have extensive work experience; however, limit information to what is pertinent to your current job objective/purpose.

down arrowAppearance:

  • Must be well organized, neat, and concise.
  • Proofread to make sure grammar, punctuation and spelling are flawless.
  • Use high quality resume paper. References and cover letter should be on the same type of paper.
  • Layout should generally have a 1/2" to 1" margin on all sides.

down arrowContent:

  • Design your resume with a particular objective or purpose in mind.
  • Accent your strong points by listing them first. (If you are a new graduate with little or no practical experience, list your degree first. If your work experiences are relevant to the position and your degree is an added benefit, you may list the work history first.)
  • Be honest. Never falsify or exaggerate information.
  • Concentrated on the positive and highlight your strengths, downplay your weaknesses.
  • Use power statements beginning with action verbs (supervised, organized, planned, developed, created, etc).
  • Use key words and phrases instead of complete sentences. Eliminate the pronoun "I".
  • Don't include unnecessary personal information - race, religion, political affiliation, height, weight, age, marital status, etc.

Choose a Format

There is no "perfect" or "right" format. The one you choose will depend upon your particular circumstances and the job you are applying for. These formats are:

down arrowChronological Resume:

Start with your most recent education and employment, then work backwards. 

Advantages: It is logical and easy to follow. This gives a clear picture of where you have worked and what you have accomplished. Many employers prefer this format.

Disadvantages: Limited experience, any gaps in employment, or other weak areas may be evident.

down arrowFunctional Resume:

Work experience is arranged according to areas of skill.

Advantages: Draws attention to accomplishments; highlights skills rather than your work experience or lack of it.

Disadvantages: Some employers may be suspicious of this format. They think the candidate may be trying to cover something such as gaps in employment.

Suited for the following personal circumstances:

  1. Mature professional with a wealth of expertise and jobs.
  2. Entry-level types whose track records do not justify a chronological resume.
  3. Career changers who want to focus on skills rather than credentials.
  4. Those returning to the workplace after a long absence.
  5. People closer to retirement than to the onset of their careers.

down arrowCombination Resume:

This is an equal combination of both a chronological and functional resume.

Advantages: This format is helpful when your past experiences are related to your future goals.

Disadvantages: If not clearly written, the difference between your related experience and other experience could be confusing to the employer.

down arrowAdditional Areas: Activities/Honors/Special Skills:

  • List extracurricular activities that demonstrate skills, accomplishments and leadership, teamwork, self management, organization, etc.
  • Include computer skills and/or foreign languages.
  • Personal accomplishments.
  • Unique experiences such as traveling to a foreign country to study abroad.

down arrowTip for Scannable Resumes:

  • Make sure that your name is the first readable item on each page.
  • Use popular, non-decorative typefaces.
  • Use a font size of 10-14pt.
  • Avoid italics, script and underlining.
  • Avoid graphics and shading.
  • Avoid horizontal and vertical lines.
  • Avoid staples and folds.

Now that you have a few tips, you can go ahead and get started! Remember to set up an appointment with Career Services to have your resume reviewed before sending it off to potential employers. We are here to help you finalize and perfect each and every detail.


Last Updated: 1/10/12