Your resume is an essential tool for your job search. Resumes don't get jobs, they get interviews. They give a brief overview of your background, skills and experience. An effective resume is basically a selling tool - a chance for you to market your skills and strengths that make you an ideal candidate for the job. Make it as thorough as possible.

Your resume is also a personal reflection of you: your skills, your experience and your style. Personalize it. There is no absolutely correct way to do your resume. Choose the format that best highlights your strengths and accomplishments.

Remember that employers receive hundreds of resumes and may only glance over them to find those that catch their eye. You need to ensure that yours will catch their eye by paying attention to your resume's organization, appearance and content.

Follow these simple steps to get started, and then check below for a list resume writing tips and suggestions.

Steps in Writing a Resume
  1. Examine your background.
    On a blank sheet of paper, list all your work history and below each position list all of your job duties/responsibilities. Once you have completed that, number those job duties in the order of importance. (This can be a time-consuming but it is worth it to take the time in the beginning AND it will make the rest of the process easier. Include full-time, part-time and volunteer work).
  2. Translate the details into the best language for a resume.
    Narrow your list of job duties for each position using a list of action verbs. Re-write each statement starting with an action verb.
  3. Write a Rough Draft.
    Select the style of resume you want to use and begin writing a rough draft. Arrange the resume on the page so it is easy to read and attractive. Be brief, concise and action-oriented.
  4. Review the rough draft.
    Put the draft down for a while and then come back to it. Have friends and family proofread it for suggestions, comments, and ideas. Eliminate all spelling and typographical errors. Review it for complete information. Finally, make any necessary changes or additions.
  5. Write final draft.
    Once you have completed your final draft, review it again. Check the overall appearance. Make sure it lists your most noteworthy skills, experiences, and accomplishments. Have friends and family proofread it one more time. Then, make changes and update as needed.

The Look of Your Resume

Organization

  • Use action words to describe skills, completed tasks, job responsibilities.
  • Expect to write more than one draft.
  • Quantify with numbers, dollar amounts and percentages whenever possible (For example, "Organized event for 200 people which raised $2,000 for club charity fund raiser").
  • Be brief, concise and action-oriented.
  • Use bullets to set off each major idea.

Appearance

  • Error-proof your resume.
  • Spelling, punctuation, typing errors, erasures, and correction fluid marks will screen you out from being considered for an interview.
  • Use bond paper in white, eggshell or cream with black print.
  • Be sure to leave plenty of margin space (approximately 3/4 to one inch).
  • Better to use two pages than to squeeze everything on one page.
  • Use standard print style for easy reading.
  • Use letter quality or laser printers. Photocopies should be sharp and clean. Black spots, smudges or shadows are not acceptable.
  • Special effects are primarily used for the creative industries of public relations, advertising, marketing and the media. Others should be conservative in nature.

Content

  • It is unnecessary to put the word "Resume" at the top of the page.
  • Listing job objectives can be restrictive. Your objective may be to get an interview for every job for which you qualify.
  • Continuing education, certifications, company training workshops and licenses are included in the Education segment.
  • DO NOT include personal characteristics (height, weight, age), gender, religion, marital status, health, number of children or organizations considered controversial.
  • DO NOT include salary requirements or reasons for leaving a job.
  • DO NOT include references in a resume.
  • Never send a resume without a personalized cover letter.
  • Avoid the use of the word "I".
  • Avoid jargon and exaggeration.
  • Do not use a nickname on the resume.

Action Verbs

The following is a list of possible action verbs to help in describing your job duties and responsibilities: 

Administer

Facilitate

Perform

Advocate

File

Persuade

Analyze

Formulate

Plan

Assemble

Gather

Prepare

Assist

Identify

Process

Balance

Implement

Produce

Budget

Initiate

Program

Build

Inspect

Promote

Coach

Install

Record

Coordinate

Interview

Recruit

Consult

Investigate

Repair

Counsel

Maintain

Represent

Create

Manage

Research

Deliver

Market

Review

Demonstrate

Mediate

Schedule

Design

Monitor

Supervise

Develop

Motivate

Synthesize

Direct

Negotiate

Test

Establish

Observe

Transcribe

Evaluate

Operate

Utilize

 

Organize

Write

Proofreading Checklist

Before you send in your resume, take a moment to double-check these items:

  • Is the pertinent personal data correct - phone number, address, work address?
  • Is your highest educational attainment shown first?
  • Does your objective briefly state your employment goals without getting too specific to rule you out of consideration for other jobs?
  • Does your objective focus on what you can bring to the employer rather than what you want from the employer?
  • Have you included professional courses that support your candidacy?
  • Have you avoided listing irrelevant job responsibilities or job titles?
  • Does each position history list your most important job responsibilities first?
  • Does your resume emphasize the contributions, achievements and problems you have successfully solved during your career?
  • Have you made information prominent by underlining, bolding, italicizing, using bullets and paying attention to the organization and layout of the page?
  • Have you included any volunteer or community service activities that can lend strength to your candidacy?
  • Is the resume long enough to present yourself in a good fashion but short enough to make the employer bring you in for more information?
  • Do your phrases begin, wherever possible, with powerful action verbs and phrases?
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