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Resume Writing Basics

1. Purpose

The purpose of the resume is to convince employers of what you have to offer, and how your skills match the skills he/she is seeking for the opening.

2. How To Start

Brainstorm by making a list of qualifications with the following headings: Education, Special Skills (such as foreign languages, computer programming skills, etc.), Experience, Activities, and Awards. At this point, don’t worry about format just focus on putting the information down on paper.

3. Contents

Your resume should include five basic blocks of information.

  1. Identification: Include your name, address (both campus and permanent, if you are not from the area), phone number, and e-mail. Since you will be leaving campus after graduation, you might want to say until what date you will be at the campus address. For example: Campus Address (until x/xx/xx)
  2. Objective: Some recruiters like to see an objective and some don’t care about them, but you will never hurt yourself by having a good, targeted objective that makes a resume look more focused. This statement should be concise, specific, include the name of the company (and position, if appropriate) and should focus on what you have to offer an employer.

Examples:

  1. position-oriented: ex: A video journalist or related position at ____ (company name).
  2. field/skill-oriented: ex: A sales or related position at ____ (company name) which would allow me to use my communication skills and marketing experience.

  3. Education: Here is where you state: your degree (Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, or Bachelor of Business Administration); name of school; city; state; your major(s); and date of graduation. Include your GPA if it is a 3.0 or better, using the format of GPA: 3.2/4.0, or GPA 3.43/4.00. If you attended another college or university for a significant length of time, skip a line and list the name of your other school(s), city and state, and dates you attended. If you participated in a study abroad, skip a line after your university information and list it in the format of: Study Abroad: Name of University, city, country, dates
  1. Experience: Employers prefer the reverse chronological format. List the most recent job first, the next most recent and so on. It is easy to read and identifies your work experience clearly. Include summer, part-time, full-time, in-depth volunteer, and campus work as well as co-ops, internships, and extensive externships. Include only the jobs you had while you were in college unless they are particularly relevant to the job you are seeking. You need to include all the important information: Job title, name of employer, city, state, and dates of employment. Highlight achievements/accomplishments and skills developed. Use the Action Verbs and Transferrable Skills sheets included in this handout to restate tasks with action verbs and powerful, concise statements.
  2. References: If you have room, you may state that they are available upon request. Always make a separate reference page. Three to five references are appropriate. Include names, titles, addresses, and phone numbers. ASK PERMISSION BEFORE USING INDIVIDUALS AS REFERENCES. See sample reference sheet included in this handout.
  3. Optional Sections:
    1. Activities: List any campus or community activities you've been involved with while in college. List the name of the organization and positions held (if any).
    2. Special skills: List any relevant skills for the position to which you are applying (i.e. computer or foreign language skills)
    3. Honors/Awards/Scholarships: Focus on any special achievements or recognitions. If listing scholarships, describe their nature (i.e. academic, leadership based, etc.)

4. Final Notes

  • Proofread! (in other words, edit very carefully!).
  • Keep it to one page if at all possible.
  • Use the same style of font throughout your resume, references, and cover letter; use the same size font throughout as well, with the exception of your name, which should be larger.
  • Use italics and bold to emphasize and highlight, but don't over do it.
  • You must have different resumes for each type of position you are seeking.
  • Use good quality resume paper. White or ivory are the most acceptable colors. You can print on the resume paper or print on plain paper and have it copied (professionally) onto resume paper.

Resume Rules

  • Unless told to send a resume only, always send a cover letter with your resume if you are mailing it in or dropping it off. A formal e-mail or cover letter can be used when e-mailing.
  • Review and revise your resume as needed.
  • A resume may be folded neatly and mailed in a regular-sized business envelope, but it looks even better to not fold it and mail it in a larger envelope.
  • Remember to plan for a one-page resume if at all possible.
  • Use concise, positive phrases beginning with action verbs.
  • Use indented and "bulleted" statements.
  • Use quantities, amounts, and dollar values where they enhance your job description.
  • Edit, proofread, and spell-check for possible errors.
  • Don't use resume(s) with job objectives different from the position for which you have applied.
  • Don't list sex, weight, health, or other personal irrelevancies.
  • Don't include pictures.
  • Don't put resume in fancy binder.
  • Don't include street address of former employer.
  • Don’t include information from high school, unless it clearly demonstrates you’ve been interested in and involved in the field you are pursuing since that time.
  • Don't explain unrelated information in detail. No one is hired from a resume or application, so save your explanations for the interview.
  • Don't state race, religion, marital status, or political affiliation.
  • Don't use words such as "I," "me," or "my" in your resume, except in the objective.
  • Don't use personal evaluations (such as "learned a great deal through this experience")

Action Verbs

Management Skills

administered

analyzed

assigned

attained

chaired

contracted

consolidated

coordinated

delegated

developed

directed

evaluated

executed

improved

increased

organized

oversaw

planned

prioritized

produced

recommended

reviewed

scheduled

strengthened

supervised

Communication Skills

addressed

arbitrated

arranged

authored

corresponded

developed

directed

drafted

edited

enlisted

formulated

influenced

interpreted

lectured

mediated

moderated

motivated

negotiated

persuaded

promoted

publicized

reconciled

recruited

spoke

translated

wrote

Research Skills

clarified

collected

criticized

diagnosed

evaluated

examined

extracted

identified

inspected

interpreted

interviewed

investigated

organized

reviewed

summarized

surveyed

systemized

Technical Skills

assembled

built

calculated

computed

designed

devised

engineered

fabricated

maintained

operated

overhauled

programmed

remodeled

repaired

solved

trained

upgraded

Teaching Skills

adapted

advised

clarified

coached

communicated

coordinated

developed

enabled

encouraged

evaluated

explained

facilitated

guided

informed

initiated

instructed

persuaded

set

goals

stimulated

Financial Skills

administered

allocated

analyzed

appraised

audited

balanced

budgeted

calculated

computed

developed

forecast

managed

marketed

planned

projected

researched

Creative Skills

acted

conceptualized

created

designed

developed

directed

established

fashioned

founded

illustrated

instituted

integrated

introduced

invented

originated

performed

planned

revitalized

shaped

Helping Skills

assessed

assisted

clarified

coached

counseled

demonstrated

diagnosed

educated

expedited

facilitated

familiarized

guided

referred

rehabilitated

represented

Clerical or Detail Skills

approved

arranged

catalogued

classified

collected

compiled

dispatched

executed

generated

implemented

inspected

monitored

operated

organized

prepared

processed

purchased

recorded

retrieved

screened

specified

systemized

tabulated

validated

Transferable Skills

Information Management Skills:

  • sort data and objects
  • compile and rank information
  • apply information creatively to specific problems or tasks
  • synthesize facts, concepts and principles
  • understand and use organizing principles
  • evaluate information against appropriate standards

Design and Planning Skills:

  • identify alternative courses of action
  • set realistic goals
  • follow through with a plan or decision
  • manage time effectively
  • predict future trends and patterns
  • accommodate multiple demands for commitment of time, energy and resources
  • assess needs
  • make and keep a schedule
  • set priorities

Research and Investigation Skills:

  • use a variety of sources of information
  • apply a variety of methods to test the validity of data
  • identify problems and needs
  • design an experiment plan or model that systematically defines a problem
  • identify information sources appropriate to special needs or problems
  • formulate questions relevant to clarifying a particular problem, topic or issue

Communication Skills:

  • listen with objectivity and paraphrase the content of a message
  • use various forms and styles of written communication
  • speak effectively to individuals or groups
  • use media formats to present ideas imaginatively
  • express one's needs, wants, opinions and preferences without offending the sensitivities of others
  • identify and communicate value judgments effectively
  • describe objects or events with a minimum of factual errors
  • convey a positive self-image to others

Human Relations and Interpersonal Skills:

  • keep a group "on track" and moving toward the achievement of a goal
  • maintain group cooperation and support
  • delegate tasks and responsibilities
  • interact effectively with peers, superiors, and subordinates
  • express one's feelings appropriately
  • understand the feelings of others
  • use argumentation techniques to persuade others
  • make commitments to people
  • be willing to take risks
  • teach a skill, concept or principle to others
  • analyze behavior of self and others in group situations
  • demonstrate effective social behavior in a variety of settings and under different circumstances
  • work under time and environmental pressures

Critical Thinking Skills:

  • identify quickly and accurately the critical issues when making a decision or solving a problem
  • identify a general principle that explains interrelated experiences or factual data
  • define the parameters of a problem
  • identify reasonable criteria for assessing the value or appropriateness of an action or behavior
  • adapt one's concepts and behavior to changing conventions and norms
  • apply appropriate criteria to strategies and action plans
  • take given premises and reason to their conclusion
  • create innovative solutions to complex problems
  • analyze the interrelationships of events and ideas from several perspectives

Management and Administration Skills:

  • analyze tasks
  • identify people who can contribute to the solution of a problem or task
  • identify resource materials useful in the solution of a problem
  • delegate responsibility of completion of a task
  • motivate and lead people
  • organize people and tasks to achieve specific goals

Valuing Skills:

  • assess a course of action in terms of its long-range effects on the general human welfare
  • make decisions that will maximize both individual and collective good
  • appreciate the contributions of art, literature, science and technology to contemporary society
  • identify one's own values
  • assess one's values in relation to important life decisions

Personal/Career Development Skills:

  • analyze and learn from life experiences - both one's own and others'
  • relate the skills developed in one environment (e.g., school) to the requirements of another environment (e.g., work)
  • match knowledge about one's own characteristics and abilities to information about job or career opportunities
  • identify, describe and assess the relative importance of one's needs, values, interests, strengths and weaknesses
  • develop personal growth goals that are motivating
  • identify and describe skills acquired through formal education and general life experiences
  • identify one's own strengths and weaknesses
  • accept and learn from negative criticism
  • persist with a project when faced with failure unless it is clear that the project cannot be carried out or is not worth the time or effort required to complete it
  • generate trust and confidence in others
  • take risks
  • accept the consequences of one's actions
  • "market" oneself to prospective employers
Originally developed by Paul Breen, San Francisco State University; adapted by University of North Georgia Career Services.

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