What is a Resume and What are its Purposes?
The word "resume" is derived from the French word for summary and
it is just that--a summary of your career objectives, educational
history, and work experience. A resume should answer two important
questions for a potential employer: "What can you do for me?"
(answered in your career objectives) and "Why should you be
considered for this job?" (answered in your sections on
educational history and work experience). Irish (1978) states that
job seekers must be able to answer the following three question to
write effective resumes: Who am I? What do I do well? What do I
want? Fretz and Stang (1988, p. 43) urge graduate school applicants
to write resumes for three important reasons. "First, each
application requires a variety of statistical information that you
will now have conveniently located in one place. Second, a copy of
your resume should be given to each person you ask for a
recommendation so that they can include useful information about you
in their letters. Finally, include a copy of your resume with your
application. Graduate selection committees will be impressed if you
take this extra step in a thorough and concise presentation of
information about yourself." If you have never written a resume
before, it can be a slightly intimidating task that is difficult to
start. Keep in mind that you are not bragging about yourself in a
resume; you are simply attempting to give a person who does not know
you a realistic idea of what you are like and what you can do. One
way to help you begin to write your resume is to help you become
aware of the ten reasons why people write resumes (Lock, 1988, p.
57-60). Keeping these reasons in mind will guide you during the
resume-writing process. Who knows, you may even discover that you
enjoy writing about yourself!
- "A resume is often a requirement for a personal interview."
Few potential employers will interview a prospective employee
without a resume.
- "A resume lets you tell your story in your own way."
Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses; write your
resume to emphasize your strong points.
- "The preparation of a resume reminds you of things about
yourself that you ought to remember as you search for a job."
Writing a resume can be an adventure in self-discovery.
- "A resume represents you when you are not on hand to speak
in your own behalf." Do your best to produce an attractive and
well-written resume that will help you to survive an employer's
pre-screening of job candidates.
- "The resume can help you to be remembered after the
interview has taken place." You want to impress a potential
employer with both your verbal (the interview) and written (the
resume) communication skills.
- "If you apply for a job through the mail, the employer
generally expects a resume whether it is specifically requested
or not." You have doomed your application to failure if you are
the only job candidate who has not included a resume.
- "A good resume serves as the most effective piece in a
direct mail campaign." You may have included a host of other
information about yourself, but it is your resume that will
receive the most attention from potential employers.
- "A resume can function as a calling card as you research
work organizations." Leave copies of your resume when you
research job leads and give copies to those who can pass them on
to potential employers.
- "You can transfer information from your resume to an
employer's application for employment and know that it is
accurate." If you are asked to fill out an application before or
after an interview, your information is readily available from
- "A resume helps ease the transition of introducing yourself
and getting acquainted with the employer or interviewer." Think
of your resume as a way to help an interviewer put you at ease
during an interview.
REMEMBER: You have only one chance to make a good
first impression. Before a employer meets you in person,
your resume is YOU to that person. Do not allow a
sloppy, unorganized, or unattractive resume create an
undesirable impression of you.