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Resume Writing Guidelines

  1. The purpose of a resume - Entice them to bring you in for an interview
    • YOU have the final say; YOU pick and choose what goes in your resume - take ownership. 
    • Don't give the impression you have told them everything, already.
    • Your goal is to stand out as the best candidate - be confident, use meaningful words that will leave a positive impression.
    • Each work should speak confidence and set you above other candidates - chose action verbs carefully and try not to be repetitive.  
    • Don't give recruiters an easy reason to discard your resume - zero tolerance of errors. Use multiple editors and do NOT rely on computer spell or grammar check. Public Administration minus the l is still a word, but not the word you were likely meaning to say.
    • Tailor your resume for each job - order the bullet points, use their buzz words, appeal to their posting.


  2. There is not one right format - Choose a format that represents you well
    • Caution: Don't create a cookie cutter resume - alter templates if you must use them.
    • Format should be easy for the recruiter to quickly scan - 20-60 seconds is all you might get.
    • One page only--recruiters will likely not take time to look at a second page. Do what you can to acknowledge the time restraints for the recruiter.
    • Approximately 70% text 30% white space - make it visually pleasing. 
    • 10 or 12 pt for easy readability - do what you can to make life pleasant for the recruiter.
    • We read from top to bottom and left to right--make sure every word entices them to look further.
    • You should order your most impressive credentials from top to bottom. As a new college graduate your degree may very well be your best credential, so Education should be the top subheading. 
    • Your name should be largest for ease of reference.
    • Your address doesn't sell you so it can be smaller than 10 pts - but make sure it is current and that your email address is professional. Be sure to check your email or voicemail often during the job search.
    • Consider saving your resume as a PDF file - prevent it from looking typewritten when it comes across the wire. The website www.gohtm.com will convert your document for free.


  3. Content - Be consistent
    • Generally begin with college experiences, leaving off high school--there are exceptions.
    • Objective statements aren't used much any more--if you choose to use an objective statement make sure it is focused on what you can do for the employer, not what they can do for you.
    • Summaries or profiles are the trend to replace objective statements.briefly make three or four supportable claims that meet the employer's specific needs as listed on their posting or per your research.
    • Subtitles should easily identify and categorize information contained within your resume--they are an organization tool so make them work for you. 
    • Use bold, underlining, italics, and all CAPS to accentuate important items - however, be careful not to misuse or overuse them lest nothing stands out. 
    • Be consistent--if your title is most impressive and is therefore bolded on one job, you should follow the same formatting for the rest of the jobs even if the titles for those aren't as grand. Make your resume easy to reference. 
    • Use complete thoughts but not complete sentences. Resumes do not use typical sentence punctuation. 
    • Substantiate your claims with results, outcomes, numbers, and facts - i.e. "Taught class of 26 including 5 learning disabled children" as compared to "Can handle large and challenging classroom." 
    • When referring to religious experiences use employment terminology not church jargon - volunteer representative teaching over 50 individuals and supervising 10 other volunteers. 
    • Focus on transferable skills - waiting 6 tables at a time may not matter for a teaching position, but accuracy under pressure and/or promoting and providing a cheerful environment under challenging circumstances does. 


  4. Revising - A key to great resumes
    • You know yourself as do your personal friends and family--the recruiter will be a stranger so a stranger's review of your resume every time you revise it can provide valuable insights on their first impressions. Be sure to ask for an honest evaluation every time you revise.
    • Use sample resumes (web, Career Placement & Library, friends, family) to help spark ideas of word choice, transferable skills, skill sets, challenges converted into opportunities, etc.


  5. Keep Records - Everything you accomplish is important
    • Keep a resume journal/log/list/ which contains ALL your experience. Then draw pertinent information from it for each new job application. (Don't fall into the trap of believing you will remember or you don't have enough to write down.)

Next: Sample Marketing Resume Guidelines - Web Resume Design Guidelines

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