Guidelines for Writing a Resume

CIC News
Published: July 1, 2000

A resume is a marketing document of sorts in which YOU are the product. Therefore, the first step to writing an effective resume is identifying the skills and abilities you have acquired that will be recognized and valued by potential employers.

Studies have been done that indicate that employers spend no more than 20 seconds glancing over each resume they receive, so it is important to make a good first impression in terms of both form and content. The information you present must be visually appealing, consistently formatted, and error-free. Errors in grammar or spelling will disqualify you immediately, so always have a native speaker proofread your resume.

Contact information -- name, address, telephone, fax numbers and e-mail address -- usually appears at the top of the page.

Next, state your Objective, or the kind of work you wish to do. Often, individuals list different objectives for the different kinds of jobs to which they are applying; your objective need not always be the same.

Under a heading such as Professional or Work Experience, list positions you have held in reverse chronological order (starting with the most recent first), including dates employed and company name. You must then discuss the tasks you set out to do and your accomplishments while employed by each company.
In order to emphasize your contribution to the workplace as well as in the interests of saving space, it is crucial to use active language when describing your role in positions you have held in the past.

Some action words include the following: achieved, acquired, addressed, analyzed, centralized, coordinated, created, demonstrated, designed, eliminated, enforced, implemented, improved, maintained, managed, organized, oversaw, performed, reorganized, reviewed, selected, supervised, surveyed, trained

As your reader's time is limited, you must avoid using paragraphs or long sentences to describe the work you did. The bullet style -- use of an action word followed by a telegraphic account of the action you performed -- enables you to include a lot of information about your work-related duties, responsibilities and achievements in as condensed a form as possible.Next, under a heading labeled Education, note dates attended and degrees conferred, with year of graduation, majors and minors, honors and awards where applicable. Be sure to include any special certification or training you may have.Finally, under the heading of Special Skills, list such information as knowledge of foreign languages, including programming languages as well as any knowledge of word processing, spreadsheet or other programs.

Today, use of the internet permits you access to resume building kits online, along with free tips for writing cover letters, interviewing, and negotiating a salary.

If posting your resume online, it is generally advisable to do the following:
- Left justify the entire document
- Use a standard font, size 10-14 only
- Avoid boldface, underlined or italicized print
- Avoid parentheses, graphics, shading, tabs and hard returns

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