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Resume Writing Tips

Getting started

Make a good first impression to get the job you want. Follow these steps to start your resume:

  1. Determine the job or types of jobs you want to do and research their responsibilities and qualifications.
  2. Think about why you can do the job and make a list of your skills that are relative to the job.
  3. Identify experiences or accomplishments that show your proficiency in the skills required for the job.
  4. Summarize your abilities, accomplishments and skills in a brief, concise document.

Parts of a resume

Most resumes have five or six parts. Understand the format of a resume and what you should think about as you prepare.

Personal Information

Make sure the employer knows who you are. Begin your resume by including basic personal information:

  • Your name and address
  • Your home, work and cell phone numbers
  • Your e-mail address if you have one
  • Your geographic preferences

Objective

The objective statement should be a brief description of the job or type of job you want and should be specific to you. It should give the reader a clear understanding of what you want.

If you aren't entirely sure of what you want to do next, consider a "skill driven" objective, one that focuses on the skills you bring to the workforce and not on the functional area or industry segment in which you'd like to work.

Objective statement structure:

A 1._______ position in 2._______ utilizing my skills in 3. _______ to 4. _______.

  1. Position (operations manager, financial analyst, administrative assistant)
  2. Functional area (corporate finance, commercial real estate, MIS, banking center)
  3. Specialized skills - skills that make you a unique asset to the hiring manager (accounting, sales, customer service, written communications, training)
  4. Value added - What basic value do you propose to add to your new environment? How will the hiring manager know six months from now that you have added value to his/her team? Your most compelling quality or contribution.

Remember to use action words when writing your objective statement.

Examples:

  • A management position in the Consumer Bank utilizing my skills in leadership, sales and relationship building to expand the customer base and increase the market share.
  • An operations position that provides the opportunity for utilization of my production, financial and managerial skills.
  • Senior level human resources development position responsible for organization development and executive management training.
  • Analyst position in Financial Management.
  • Challenging administrative position within the Consumer Bank.

Summary of Qualifications and Specialized Skills

The summary of qualifications is a brief statement (1 to 3 sentences) that gives the reader a quick impression of you and your overall qualifications for the job. Summary of qualifications structure

Over ____ years achievement in 1.___________.

Areas of expertise include: 2.__________.

  1. A general statement of what you've done and where you've been professionally, with emphasis on the magnitude of your assignments. The action words list is a great tool to help you complete this part of your resume.
  2. List four to six strengths/specialized skills or areas of specific expertise supporting your objective statement. These are typically the skill areas that are viewed to be your key strengths (financial analysis, budgeting, internal auditing, sales).

Significant Work Experience

Your resume should outline your work experience, including:

  • Your most recent position and employer.
  • The name, location (city and state), and the dates you worked for the employer (use whole years).
  • The title of each position you held with employer, dates you held the position and brief description (one to two sentences) of the job's responsibilities.

Use the following examples to format your job responsibilities and achievements:

  • Directed a 24-person technical team ($2.5 million budget) responsible for telecommunications, multi-platform computers, voice and data networks.
  • Responsible for month-end financial reporting, accounting services, and analysis.
  • Assisted with annual budgets and various special projects.

Accomplishments are statements of actions you have taken that have somehow positively impacted the bottom line.

  • Accomplishments should be written in the "action-results" format, underscoring your key role in the success.
  • Accomplishments should be written as if to respond to the questions, "tell me what you did" and "prove to me that you did it well."
  • Below each responsibility statement, list two to four accomplishments or improvements that you brought about while in each position.

Your accomplishments

Create a list of your own accomplishments by identifying your specialized skills. Include a description of accomplishments you have achieved because of those skills. Use action words to describe your accomplishments.

To help you identify some of your accomplishments, consider the following questions:

  • Did I improve the customer experience?
  • Was I selected to a special team or task force?
  • Did I exceed established performance goals?

With every question, ask yourself: What were the results?

Education and Training

Providing information on your resume about your education background and any training you have will help show a prospective employer why he or she should hire you.

Education background

Use the following formats to list your formal education on your resume:

  • [When a degree was earned]
    BA, summa cum laude, Sociology, DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois
  • [When currently pursuing degree]
    Candidate for BA in Accounting, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles California (August 2001)
  • [When no degree was earned]
    Course work taken in Engineering, Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina-attended 3 years.
Specialized training

You may also want to list any specialized training that you have received, such as:

  • Specialized courses taken
  • Certifications
  • Proficiencies (computer; foreign languages)
  • Awards
  • Computer skills

Professional Membership and Organizational Affiliations

Your resume should include information about your memberships in professional and community organizations, as well as the leadership roles you hold or have held.

Examples

  • Secretary for National Association of Certified Public Accountants
  • American Society for Training and Development
  • Volunteer for United Way campaign
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • Treasurer for PTA

Resume Do's and Don'ts

Resume do's

  • Do be brief. Resumes should be 1-2 pages in length.
  • Do be upbeat and active in your wording. Refer to action words for help.
  • Do emphasize what you've done clearly and concretely.
  • Do be neat and well organized.
  • Do have others proofread and critique your resume. Pay particular attention to spelling.
  • Do use high quality white or light colored 8 x 11 paper. Use a laser printer if possible.

Resume don'ts

  • Don't be dishonest. Always tell the truth about yourself in the most flattering light.
  • Don't include salary history or requirements.
  • Don't include references.
  • Don't include accomplishments that don't support your professional goals.
  • Don't tell them about hobbies that don't relate to your professional goals.
  • Don't use italics, underlining or shadowing in your resume formatting.

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