Guidelines for Creating a Professional Resume
First Impressions Count
When you conduct a job search, your resume is usually a potential employer's first impression of you. Your resume should be an accurate reflection of your work history, educational background, and job-related accomplishments and skills. A professional resume often means the difference between getting an interview or getting lost in the shuffle.
Guidelines for Creating a Professional Resume
- Be clear and concise in communicating your thoughts while including the relevant details.
- Limit the length of the resume to one or two pages.
- Use a traditional format; chronological and functional are the most common (see Resume Formats below).
- Stay away from colours and graphics!Use high-quality white, cream, or grey paper.
- Keep your resume easy to read.
- Use a ten-point typeface in a simple, traditional font.
- Use bold, underline, and larger headings for emphasis (but don't go overboard).
- Use bullet points. Information is much easier to read in this format.
- Use plain, concise English to communicate your thoughts, and make certain your grammar is correct.
- Be descriptive in the wording you use and avoid using the first person (I, We, etc.).
- After you have carefully proofread for spelling errors and corrected grammar, have someone else read your resume for clarity of content and errors.
Chronological: This is the most commonly used resume style. It is a listing of each position you have held, beginning with the most recent, followed by a description of your responsibilities.
Functional: The structure of this format highlights your skills and achievements. The employers and positions held are listed at the bottom of the resume. If you do not have a stable work history or if you are making a career change, you might use this style.
Whether you choose the chronological format or the functional format, the basic information that should be included in your resume remains the same, just in a different order.
Heading: This will include your name, address, and contact information (phone numbers, e-mail, etc.).
Objective: This is optional, but if you do include an objective, make certain that it's specific and relevant to the position you are seeking.
Work History: This is an overview of your career history. Include the company name, dates of employment, and your job title for each employer. The location of the employer may also be included. A bulleted list of your responsibilities and accomplishments follows this segment. When describing your accomplishments, use action words, i.e., created, originated, initiated, developed, implemented, demonstrated, formulated, reduced, achieved, provided for, increased, and evaluated. Distinguish yourself from the other applicants.
Education: The school(s) attended, degree(s) received, and field of study should be included. If you choose, your GPA, any graduation distinctions, and date(s) may also be included. These additional details can be emphasised if you are a recent graduate. If you have more than a few years of work experience, the educational information should be secondary to your work history. Note: If you are a recent graduate with little or no work history, the Education and Work History segments can be reversed.
Other Information: These are sections that are usually seen on resumes, although they are not critical. However, they may help distinguish you from other candidates.
- Computer Skills: If you are technically savvy, this is great information to include because it's so important in today's job market. Include any systems and software with which you are fairly proficient.
- Awards: This is the area to list academic honours or community awards you have received. The academic honours are particularly important if you are a recent graduate.
- Community Involvement: This is the place to list the professional associations you are involved in and the charity work that you do.
- References: "References available upon request" is an option to state at the bottom of the page.
A Few Final Dos and Don'ts for Your Resume
Douse buzzwords when describing your skills, i.e., project management, database development, systems implementation, etc. Resumes are often scanned into company databases and accessed by key word searches for important skills.
Don'tlist hobbies or personal information such as family status, health, or age. This information is not relevant to your ability or suitability for the position.
Don'ttry to be clever or humorous in your presentation.
Don'tbrag. Sell yourself and your skills, but don't come across as overly boastful.
Don'tlie, be vague, or misrepresent yourself. Employers can easily verify the facts on your resume. Being caught in a compromising situation can prevent you from being selected for the position.
Doyour resume updated. You never know when a good job opportunity may present itself. There are many available publications which can help you with your resume, your cover letter, and your interviewing skills.