Employers view hundreds of resumes a week, quickly discerning pertinent information from a resume and often making an interview/no-interview decision in less than 30 seconds.
Always keep the reader in mind. Your resume is a marketing document. A professional resume allows you to present your experience in a format that is easy to read and commands attention from the reader. Too often, job-seekers write their resumes as a list of tasks and responsibilities. Remember, this is not a job description but rather your personal marketing document. An effective resume helps the reader put your experience into context and highlights your accomplishments in the positions you've held. Make sure that after 30 seconds the reader has gotten to the bottom of the page and wants to learn more about you.
The best way to begin writing your resume is to brainstorm. Write down your experiences (work, clubs, activities, athletics, etc.), educational background, and any relevant information (GPA, research, awards, etc.) that will relate to the purpose of the resume. Most of your information will be from recent years. Information about high school education or experiences does not need to be added unless highly relevant to the position/career goal. The next step is to begin to organize the information into similar groupings.
The general rule of thumb is that if you have 3 or more pieces of related information, you should probably create a separate section for this information in your resume.
The following examples are potential headings:
- Professional Experience; Related Experience
- Experience; Work Experience; Work History
- Education; Training
- Certifications; Certificates Held
- Interests; Activities
- Community Service/Involvement
- Associations; Organizations; Affiliations
- Awards; Honors
- Military Experience
- Research Interests/Experience
- Laboratory Skills; Technical Skills; Computer Skills
Writing Effective Bullet Points
Bullet points are the most effective way to communicate your experience. Below are some tips on how to get started.Try to limit each experience to 3-4 bullet points.
Bullet 1: Remember to keep your reader in mind. Place your job in context with regard to one or more (not all) of the following:
- Do you need to describe the industry, or is it obvious?
- Do sales revenues give the reader an idea of your work, or do the number of customers served daily give a better picture?
- What is the size of the farm? Products, animals?
- What is the product or service? Small, medium or large veterinary office? Specialization of animals?
- How many seats are in the restaurant? How many servers? Is it fine dining, a bar, family style?
Example: Receptionist position
- Handle incoming phone calls and schedule appointment becomes:
- Coordinate office and technical support for small paper company specializing in invitations, stationary and specialty printing.
Bullet 2: Describe significant milestones, promotions, etc.
- What if there have been no promotions? Discuss additional options. There are several ways to place job progress in context. For example, do you interface with doctors, high level executives, special attention clients, vendors?
Example : "started as server: promoted to hostess/trainer."
Bullet 3: Demonstrate how you add(ed) value as an individual contributor.
- Are you the one they always count on when others routinely call out sick? Does your employer rely on and trust you to do inventory control and log in merchandise? Are you the one who always fixes the cash register? Can you calm down an irate customer?
Example: Introduced improved internal inventory tracking system, converting from paper process to the utilization of tracking software; trained staff in use.
Resume Dos and Don'ts
- Try to limit your resume to one page
- Use a one-inch margin on all sides
- Avoid abbreviations
- Quantify accomplishments wherever possible
- Place all dates on the right side of the resume
- Maintain consistent font style, spacing, indentation, capitalization and bullet style
- Use a font size that is easy to read - 11 or 12 pt. is recommended
- List experience in reverse chronological order
- Use phrases that start with ACTION VERBS
- Maintain consistency with verb tense in the experience section
- Use meaningless words or phrases such as "seeking a challenging position"
- Begin phrases with "I" or use complete sentences
- Exaggerate your experience or your GPA
- Use a font smaller than 11 pt.
- Include any demographic information (age, race, gender) or photographs on your resume
- List references on your resume
Finally, contact our office to make an appointment to have your resume reviewed! It is important that someone else proofread the document.