Career Services offers:
- Individual resume guidance
- Resume Reviews – in person or via Optimal Resume Review Center
- Resume Roadshow before each major career fair
WHAT IS A RESUME?
A summary of a job applicant's previous experience, education, accomplishments, and skills that are relevant to a specific job with a specific employer. Its purpose is to attract a prospective employer's interest and to win a job interview.
- There is no "right" way to format a resume. Resumes vary as much as individual personalities do. The key factor determining whether your resume is effective is whether you are getting interviews.
- Browse sample resumes found online and in career search books and publications can give you insight into layouts and techniques that are effective. Steer clear of templates. Exception: Optimal Resume.
- Call employer's human resources office and request the complete job description for the position you are applying to. Compare what they require with your skills and experience.
- After discovering the employer needs, determine whether you're a suitable job match. Present proof of similar experience or evidence that you have the adaptable skills needed to perform the job.
- Highlight your job match. Make it easy to see the logical connection between what you've done or are capable of and the job you are applying to.
- Emphasize your accomplishments. Strengthen your job history by reinforcing accomplishment statements with details.
- Say as much as possible with as few words as possible and avoid using the pronoun "I."
- Lead off with your strengths. If you are a recent graduate, your strength is your education. If you are an experienced professional in the field, lead with your relevant experience.
- Present your distinct combination of qualifications on your resume in a well-organized manner. Reveal to the reader what makes you unique as a prospective employee.
- Do NOT use the Microsoft Resume Wizard programs! Choose Optimal Resume instead.
- Identify your strengths and examine your skills
- Consider your interests
- Review your employment, volunteer or other activities and experience
- Assess who you are, your accomplishments, and where you are going
- Frame the above items in relationship to the position
- Take the necessary preparation time required to develop a well-thought out resume
CHOOSING A FORMAT
- Most traditional format, emphasizing your career path and experience by presenting your most recent experience first.
- Focuses on where you've worked or volunteered, job titles, and accomplishments
FUNCTIONAL or SKILLS-BASED
- Highlights your skills; de-emphasizes work history
- Focuses reader's attention on kinds of work performed, your skills and accomplishments with those functions
- Most employers do not like this format
- Incorporates both chronological and functional styles
- Highlights accomplishments, expertise, and covers employment history by listing most recent work first
- Many people use this format
- Your resume is a reflection of you and is the employer's first impression of you - make it an outstanding one
- Keep your resume simple, attractive, and professional
- Print your resume on a top quality laser-jet printer
- Highlight key information in bold, italics, larger font point size, or with bullets (except when resume is being scanned)
- Use no more than two different fonts
- For readability, avoid using font size smaller than 10-point
- Use neutral-colored cotton bond paper (white, off-white - usually marketed as "resume paper")
- Use matching paper for letters (cover letter, thank you - may choose cards for thank you). Use matching envelopes or mail flat in 9x12 manila envelope.
COMMON RESUME SECTIONS
CONTACT INFORMATION - Name, address, phone number, and email address
OBJECTIVE - Be concise, specific, and tailor to the job sought. Some employers are now recommending omitting the objective in favor of a “headline,” “profile” or “summary of qualifications.” See Career Services or Optimal Resume if you have questions about this.
EDUCATION - List degree with major, institution, institution city and ST, date of degree or expected date of completion for all degrees. Include GPA if it is 3.0 or above. If a significant percentage of college expenses was earned and paid by you, this may be indicated. Do not list high school information if you have been out of high school for more than two years.
EXPERIENCE - May be full-time, part-time, internship, volunteer. List organization name, location of employer, employment dates, and job titles. Describe with bulleted statements focused on accomplishments - what made you stand out? List earned promotions, improvements made, (customer satisfaction improved 25%). Cite statistics (increased sales 20%) and figures (supervised 35 employees) when applicable. Statistics support the claims made about your skills.
If you have little work experience, strengthen your resume by expanding on educational qualifications, highlighting upper division courses, research projects, internships, class projects, and related applications of knowledge and skills.
ACTIVITIES - List clubs, volunteer, and other extracurricular activities. Include responsibilities, contributions, and offices held. Impressive to the potential employer, these activities demonstrate
transferable work qualities such as leadership, organizational abilities, managerial skills, and interpersonal skills and will enhance your experience level.
OTHER POSSIBLE RESUME SECTIONS
Profile, Summary of Qualifications, Professional Objective, Academic Preparation, Community Service, Computer Skills, Honors, Professional Associations, Communication Skills, Leadership, Achievements, Management Skills, Related Experience, Other Experience
Reference names and contact information should be on a separate page – a Reference List. It is NOT necessary to state "Available upon request" or "Furnished upon
request." You may add this if resume runs short, but employers know you will have references available when they are ready for them.
COMMON RESUME MISTAKES
- Typographical, grammatical, or spelling errors
- Not clearly communicating what you can do for employer
- Using complete sentences or paragraphs and the word “I”
- Irrelevant information
- Too long - typically, a new graduate should be able to organize all relevant information on a one-page resume (For the experienced applicant, a second page may be valuable, allowing the scope of relevant experiences and accomplishments to be presented)
- Information scanty - not providing enough details when describing work experience, activities or skills
- Inappropriate appearance - colored paper, use of graphics or excessive color
- Not following a consistent layout of information
- Not customizing resume to position sought
- Including personal information on resume - age, gender, marital status, ethnic background
- Return addresses and phone numbers incorrect (yes, this does happen)
WHAT EMPLOYERS LOOK FOR
- Information organized and presented in a layout that allows employer to quickly locate the needed information (Average time resume is initially scanned by employers is 15-60 seconds)
- Concise, well-written information directly relating to job
- Applicant skills translated into employer benefits – show how you add value to the organization
- Good GPA
- Community activities, extra-curricular activities, campus leadership positions, outline of achievements
- Internship experiences
BEFORE YOU SUBMIT YOUR RESUME
- Remember, with resumes, one size does not fit all. Once you have a basic resume, it is relatively easy to customize it to specific job openings. Make sure you have done that.
- Proofread, proofread, proofread your resume carefully. Check spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Have another person look over your resume for errors. Have your resume reviewed by Career Services.
- Use a tailored cover letter when sending your resume via email or snail mail. Avoid using "Dear Sir or Madam" in cover letters; address the letter to a specific person.
- Make sure you have an appropriate message on your voice mail for employers who might be calling you after reading your resume. Likewise, take a look at the email address you are using.
- Keep in mind that excellent candidates lose job interviews and companies lose excellent candidates all because... the candidates' resumes screened them from consideration. Impress prospective employers with your winning resume and you will receive that sought-after invitation to interview.