The resume must show the employer that you have the skills, experience and characteristics that match what they need for the position you are seeking and that match their organization. It must show that you are well qualified and a good match. The purpose of the resume (and cover letter together) is to cause the employer to contact you for further consideration, for an interview. Each line of the resume should tell the employer something they need to know to want to hire you. Think from the employer's perspective. Would you hire you for the job you want from what you see on your resume?
Preparing a resume is a very personal thing. No one knows you like you do; your skill levels and your ability, your interests and talents, your personal characteristics and values. Remember, your resume is not your autobiography. It is a summary of your qualifications for a specific job or for a specific employer who you believe could benefit from your skills.
Having your resume handy is very helpful in filling out application forms. Have one with you when you are doing your job search online, or several with you if you are going to employers in person.
There are a number of resume writing guides in the career library (Ramstad 112). We encourage you to check out and use these guides.
Use only one address unless you think the employer may plan to contact you during a break when you will not be on campus. In that case, use both addresses and use dates to indicate when you can be reached at each address, i.e. until December 15, 2009 for your campus address and December 15-31, 2009 for your address when you are away for the Christmas break. Be sure to include your email address.
If you include an objective, be sure you indicate some important skill you are bringing to the workplace and the type of position or experience you are seeking.
Indicate formal education in the following order: degrees or certificates obtained, major and minor subjects, honors, scholarships, and dates of graduation. If you lack work experience, this section could expand to include: specialized or related course work.
Organize this information in either of two ways - pick the one that highlights your work experience the best.
- By Job (Preferred way): List each job separately (even if the jobs were within the same firm), starting with the most recent one first and working backward. For each job, list in order the position you held, the name and city of the employer, the nature of the position held, and the dates of employment. When describing the nature of the position held describe your job by stating: specific job duties, organizational level, supervising responsibilities, special assignments, accomplishments, and any pertinent job information.
- By Function (Skills): List the functions (fields of specialization or skill, such as: sales management, communication skills, human relation skills, computer skills, etc.) you performed which are related to your job objectives. Describe the work you have done or the training you have had in each of these areas, without breaking it down by individual jobs.
Don't use a "Miscellaneous" section if you can avoid it. Use a category that is more invitingly relevant to the position or the workspace: Leadership Experience, Project Management Experience, etc.
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Do not submit references until the employer requests them. References are not part of the resume. Sometimes references are part of an application form and must be provided. Sometimes references are required along with your resume as part of the initial application. Only then should they be submitted at the time of application. Contact information for people who have consented to be references for you is confidential and should not be made available without the employer specifically requesting it. If they have not been requested, you may offer them at the time of the interview.
References are usually listed on a separate sheet of paper with the same heading as your resume, on the same paper stock. List three to five references who have direct knowledge of your work competence. Give their names, positions, addresses, and telephone numbers. This should be the daytime or work place contact number. Always ask those you would like to be contacted for their permission to list them as a reference. When you have provided your references, let them know what position you have applied for so they know a call may be forthcoming and they will be better prepared to represent you well.
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- Since the resume provides a prospective employer with the first "image" of you, it should present the best possible image. It must be typed and letter perfect. No hand written option.
- Your final copy, ready to submit to an employer, should be on high quality paper, not the standard photocopy paper. Use resume quality bond (20-24 lb.) paper. It is available by the sheet in most bookstores and stationery stores, so you need not buy more than you need.
- Acceptable colors are white, off-white or ivory. Paper with flecks or marbling interferes with the readability of the text. Make it easy for your employer and use paper that copies well for readability. You can be sure your resume will be photocopied and you want the copies to be as easy to read as the original. Always keep in mind sharp contrast between the print and the paper. Test it to see how well it copies.
- Some students have resumes professionally printed. This can be expensive and is not necessary if you are willing to spend the time to do it right. Use a PC to compose and edit. Print the resume on a good printer that will allow you to use the good quality paper. (A laser printer gives the best results.)
- No paragraphs should be longer than 10-12 lines and, in most cases, the resume should not exceed one page. Margins should be about one inch wide. Important titles are emphasized by underlining, using bold print, or capital letters but not overdone. Do not use dates as subheadings unless you want to emphasize the dates. Dates usually should be placed at the end of each entry (Note: Do not underline if resume will be scanned.)
- Indentations are used to indicate accomplishments and results.
- Use action verbs to describe your education, employment, activities.
- If you are preparing a functional resume, select skill category headings that fit you. Do not copy headings used by someone else.
- Extraneous and personal information (height, weight, age, sex, marital status, etc.) should be left out. It may disqualify you if it is not an essential part of performing the job.
- Edit to eliminate unnecessary and redundant information.
- No one resume format is right. Your resume must reflect your personality and abilities. You are selling yourself! Make that employer believe your skills and abilities are just what the organization needs. The only right way is one that represents you the best! Your resume is yours. Avoid using templates. Do not include something or do anything just because somebody suggested it. It must be true to you.
- It is important that your final copy be error free. Always have someone review your resume. It is easy to overlook simple errors that spell check won't catch. The Academic Internship Office can do this for you either in person or if you would like to send it attached to an email. It will probably take several drafts to create the best product.
- Also, remember, a resume takes time …days… to do well. Don’t try to do it in an hour.
- Your resume is not your autobiography.
- Your resume is yours. Avoid using templates.
- Do not include something or do anything just because somebody suggested it. It must be true to you.
Three sample resumes are available on this website. Other samples are available in the Career Development Office, and in reference books available in libraries and bookstores.
Download sample resumes:
- Computer Science - an example of a resume for a candidate who has little work experience and no related employment. She is still a good, strong candidate.
- English - an example of using a Skills section and verifying the skills in how the experience is represented.
- Graphic Design - an example of using more than one contact site and applying creative formatting to make the most of your page, still retaining comfortable white space. Also lists contents of her “Professional Portfolio” so the employer can see that she has samples of her work, an excellent demonstration of skill mastery and inviting the employer to ask her for an interview to see some samples of her work.
The Academic Internship Office can help you draw up a resume. If you have never written one, which is not uncommon for college students, use the resources of the personnel in either the Academic Internship Office (call 253-535-7324 for an appointment or e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org) or the Career Development Office. There are handout guides available in the Ramstad Commons, Ramstad 112, to help you. Both the Academic Internship Office and Career Development personnel are happy to review a draft and guide you to the best representation possible.
Remember, your resume is yours and you must feel comfortable with it. Never make your resume to please someone who is helping you with it. If you have several people help you with it, there may be conflicting advice. Use what suits you. It must be true to you.
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PLU is committed to providing equal opportunity in employment and in education for all members of the University community without regard to an individual's race, color, creed, religion, gender, national origin, age, mental or physical disability, marital status, sexual orientation or any other status protected by law.