Writing Your Resume
Your resume is the primary marketing tool of your job search. A truly effective resume achieves two goals:
- Presents a concise summary of your skills and accomplishments
- Clearly establishes a relationship between your experience and your career objective
The challenge of resume writing is to be both creative and able to work in a clearly prescribed structure. Although there are some specific rules to resume writing, your goal is to develop a unique piece, outstanding for its personalized content and its visual appeal.
Producing an exceptional resume is exceptionally hard work, but it is worth the struggle. The employer interest that is generated by a top-notch resume will be the reward for your effort.
Here are important writing guidelines to keep in mind as you develop your resume:
- Write your own resume. Your resume should be authentic and accurately reflect your goals and achievements; you are the best person to accomplish this task. Writing your resume also forces you to organize, analyze and articulate your experience, a process that enhances your interview technique.
- Use your thesaurus. Select specific, action verbs that convey your experience and results as clearly as possible. Choose nouns, adjectives and adverbs with the same outcome in mind. If you are creating an electronically scannable resume, use professional jargon and industry "buzzwords" appropriate to the occupation you are seeking. The key words in a scannable resume are nouns. Typical scanning equipment may or may not identify verbs. Do not repeat the same verbs or nouns throughout the resume. Do not use pronouns.
- Brief is better. Phrases can be used instead of sentences. Avoid paragraphs. Make your point and move on.
- Proofread your resume several times for typos, misspellings and accuracy of number, especially address and telephone numbers. Also ask your friends to proofread it. Typos in resumes are employers' number one resume pet peeve. A recruiter may stop reading your resume if he/she finds a typo.
- Drop in to walk-in hours to get started or to have a career advisor critique what you've written.
Once you have completed the final draft of your resume, check it over and ask yourself these questions.
- Appearance: Is it neat? Do you want to read it, or would you rather avoid reading it?
- Layout: Is the sequence and the arrangement of headings logical and easy to read? Do your key selling points stand out? Is it well-typed and reproduced? Does it have adequate spacing, margins and underlining?
- Length: Could the same story be told if it were shorter? Have you limited the resume to a reasonable one or two pages? Has any extraneous material been eliminated?
- Wording: Have you made good use of action verbs?
- Specificity: Does the resume avoid generalities and focus on specific information about experiences, projects, products, responsibilities, objectives?
- Abilities: Have you adequately emphasized your skills and your accomplishments?
- Completeness: Is it all relevant information? Have you said all you want to say about your abilities?
- Self-evaluation: Is there any way that you could improve your resume?
- Resume critique: Have you had your resume critiqued by a career counselor at the Career Development Center?
- Resume Guide (PDF)