The goal of a résumé is to clearly state what sort of a job you want and how your skill-set and experience will facilitate doing well in that particular area. Often the first look of a résumé is 15 to 30 seconds, so it is critical to be able to find the key points within that time. That is why most résumés are one page—to easier facilitate a quick scan of the important information.
Here are some more key points to help you get started:
- Have a clear objective or summary and then make sure your entire résumé supports that. Even if you don't state your objective in writing, always be working toward that goal. Keep in mind that your résumé is a marketing tool, not your life story. Put yourself in the shoes of the résumé reader—when looking at the job qualifications needed for the position, what would you be looking for in a candidate?
- Keep your résumé clean and concise. Try to remove any extra information—such as high school information or irrelevant jobs. Keep only the experience on your résumé that will help you achieve your target—keeping in mind that there are many transferable skills in seemingly insignificant jobs. Stay with easy-to-read fonts and avoid lots of graphic elements that draw the eye away from the information.
- Be accomplishment-focused when writing your résumé. Use action words like achieved, developed, excelled, presented, communicated, streamlined, etc. You don't want to give a listing of tasks; instead you can want to talk about how you did something instead of just what you did. Be specific about projects so that the reader can really understand how you can help their organization. See the following example:
Summer Intern (too vague)
- Input data to database.
- Created presentations for meetings.
- Made drawings in AutoCAD.
Summer Intern (specific)
- Worked as part of a multi-disciplinary team to complete a construction project valuing $2M—on time and within budget.
- Maintained database for business sector in order to aid their OSHA reporting of no fatalities for Fiscal Years 2000-2005.
- Created and presented important findings and statistics to upper level management using PowerPoint software and new projection technology.
- Assisted in recreating important drawings in AutoCAD which enabled department to reduce their filing space and risk of information loss by 5 percent.
- Use %s, $s and #s whenever possible. When seeking to provide the reader with brief examples of your tangible accomplishments, using dollar totals, numbers, and percentages help them to stand out. See the following example:
Pool Attendant/Life Guard (without numbers)
- Watched children to make sure they didn't drown.
- Cleaned pool after closing.
- Learned first aid and CPR.
Pool Staff/Life Guard (with numbers)
- Retained pool safety record of 100 days without incident while keeping track of an area with up to 75 children at a time.
- Maintained pool according to federal guidelines of cleanliness and company standards.
- Completed all required safety courses including CPR and First Aid—reviewed and updated annually.
- Personal information should be easy to find and your name should be the largest thing on the page. Make it easy to find and remember. Do not give discriminating information such as sex, race, age, etc. These can become disqualifying if the reader feels they cannot remain objective after finding them out. One exception is that if you have an international address, give your visa status directly below your address so that the reader does not have to wonder if they will be tasked with visa issues.
- Highlight your unique qualifications such as language abilities, extracurricular activities, community service, and hobbies that might provide special skills and/or make you a more attractive candidate.
- References are very important to employers but their names and information should not be listed on your résumé as a courtesy to them and an extra edge for you. Simply put "References available upon request" or do not say anything since most employers expect references to be given. Then when you have a request, you can give them the names and information of (typically) three people who will give you a positive reference. The nice thing about not listing their names is that you can choose for each job which reference will be best suited, and you can also contact your reference and let them know who will be contacting them so that they are prepared with information to favorably recommend you.
- Don't lie, don't undersell. This is a fine line—but one that must be taken seriously. You never want to lie on a résumé. In many cases this document will be put into your permanent file at your place of employment and if found to be fabricated could be used as grounds for termination. The most common falsehood on a résumé surrounds one's education—either GPA, degree earned, or school earned from. The ironic part is that this is probably the easiest point for a potential employer to verify. On the flip side, you do not want to undersell your accomplishments by "toning down" their success.
You can post your résumé on our job board: College Central Network.