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How to Write a Resume
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How to Write a Resume

However much a student learns in college, one more skill must be mastered before he or she begins the serious task of looking for full-time employment. In order to ensure that all those years of schooling and other experiences will pay off in the job hunt, even before contacting employers, one must learn the art of resume writing. (See What Does a Resume Look like?)

Your Resume Should Be:

  • A concise and factual presentation of your credentials
  • Focused on your education, accomplishments, strengths, employment history and goals
  • An invaluable marketing tool
  • Your introduction to a potential employer
  • Brief, easy to read, and grammatically well-constructed
  • Includes vital statistics, objective, experience, education, activities, and references.

A good resume is brief and concise, typed neatly in block form with no errors. It must be easy to read. When preparing your resume, cover the following points (resume outline):
 1. Limit yourself to one page only. As a rule, two page resumes are acceptable when you have over ten years of experience. Employers prefer to read only one page.
 2. Put your resume on a floppy disc and print it on the best letter quality printer available. Have an offset printer make copies or use a good, clean duplicating or photocopying machine. Do not mimeograph your resume!
 3. Type or print it on 8" X 11" plain white bond paper in block form. Avoid erasable bond - it smudges. Use 1 inch margins on both sides and 1/2 to 1 inch margins on the top and bottom of the page. Double space between each section of the resume.
 4. Spelling must be accurate. Use your dictionary or your spell check.
 5. Use clear and concise statements describing your experiences. Use proper grammar and punctuation.
 6. Use a heading at the beginning of each section. Set it off by typing it in all caps or underlining the heading.
 7. Under the headings "Education" & "Experience," the most recent should be listed first.
 8. Have someone review your resume before you type it in final form.
 9. When describing your experiences use action verbs that will stand out and tell the employer that you have really done something.

Tips on Writing a Resume

Resumes may be written in various formats, several are outlined below. Also listed are a few skills you may have acquired along the way. The paragraphs below will give you a brief description of a chronological format and skill based, functional format, as well as steps on creating a resume.

Chronological resumes document work experience and education in chronological order, with the most recent dates first. Major categories are: Work Experience, Education, Professional Affiliations, and Awards. This format is generally used by candidates applying for jobs in "traditional" organizations or for those who are staying in the same field. This type of resume is best used when your job history reflects growth, when prior employment has been with a prestigious employer, and you want to emphasize that work experience, or when a prior job title may be considered impressive to the reader. This format may not be the most appropriate to use when your job history is irregular, you are changing careers, you have changed employment frequently, or you have little employment history.  (Chronological Resume Sample)

Functional resumes intend to highlight your specific skills and accomplishments which have been demonstrated through specific work related achievements. Note that your skills do not necessarily have to be presented in the order in which they were accomplished; list them by order of importance as they relate to the job for which you are applying. Major categories are: Technical Abilities (skills), Work History, Education, and Professional Affiliations. This format is best used when you want to change careers, when you are returning to the job market after a long absence, when your career growth has not been good, or when you believe extended work experience is not needed or desired for the job for which you are making application. The functional resume should be avoided in traditional fields such as teaching or government or when continuous growth is important to demonstrate.  (Sample Functional Resume)

Combination Chronological/Functional resume is being used increasingly by candidates to highlight special accomplishments while giving employment history in chronological order. The combination resume also seems to be popular with employment offices. Major categories are: Professional Objectives, Education, Honors, Work Experience, and Summary. (Combination Resume Example)

The Cover Letter should amplify points that you may or may not have covered in your resume; it serves as your introduction to an organization. It should be brief and informative. Several things should be addressed (Cover Letter Checklist):

  1. Explain why you are writing to the organization. Whenever possible, the letter should be addressed to a specific person. with the full name and title. Make sure the name of the person addressed is spelled correctly. This person could be the Chief Operating Officer, the Human Resources Director, or one of the line managers. (How to Write Cover Letter)
  2. If responding to an advertisement, give the date of the ad, the publication in which the ad was run, and the title of the position for which you are enclosing an application. Analyze your skills, acquired both on the job and in volunteer work, and make every effort to match your skills with those emphasized in the ad.
  3. If sending an unsolicited resume, make every effort to explore the goals of the organization, its regular and continuing job needs, and the climate of the organization to permit you to match your accomplishments with the goals and objectives of the organization.
  4. In closing, express a desire to arrange a time for an interview and state that you will telephone to request a time for an appointment. (Cover Letter Example)

More Resume Writing Tip - Making a Resume (What to Include) - How to Make a Resume (How to Include) - Help to Build a Resume (What no to include) - Business Letter - Curriculum Vitae

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