The purpose of the resume is to get an interview. Organize and write your document carefully to best convey your strengths and qualifications in a brief, easily readable format. Employers typically spend anywhere from 20 seconds to 3 minutes reviewing resumes. Make sure yours will hold their attention for a more thorough review.
- Identifying information: At the top of the resume, include your name, mailing address, telephone number (include area code), and email address.
- Objective: The objective, which generally follows the identifying information, provides direction and focus for the resume and states your employment goal.
- Education: For most college students, the education section should be near the top of the document and listed before the experience section. List the full name of the school, major or degree received, and dates of attendance or date degree awarded. Only list courses if they are relevant to the job for which you are applying. GPA is optional. If you attended more than one school, list the most recent one first.
- Experiences: Describe experiences in terms of accomplishments. Start phrases with action verbs. Do not use personal pronouns in the descriptions. Be specific and emphasize areas that will interest the employer.
- Skills Summary: Marketable skills relevant to the job objective can be listed. Examples include foreign language proficiency, computer skills, and more.
Format and Layout
- Use boldface, italics, capital letters and underlining sparingly and only to define the organization of the resume.
- Maintain appropriate margins and adequate white space to add visual appeal.
- Keep document brief enough to fit on one page (or two pages if experience is more extensive).
The three basic formats are:
- Chronological: lists events in chronological sequence (most recent event first
- Functional: organizes most relevant experiences into skill areas or functions
- Combination: combines the chronological and functional and list experiences according to themes
You should always include a cover letter when sending your resume to an individual or an organization. An introduction to your resume, the cover letter allows you to direct the reader's attention to your specific accomplishments or strengths relevant to the job you are seeking. There are essentially two types of cover letters: (1) letter of application for a specific, advertised opening and (2) letter of inquiry expressing interest in an organization but you aren't sure if there are current openings.
Basic Elements of the Cover Letter
- Your Name, Address, City, State, Zip Code, (Country), Phone Number
- Date of the Letter
- Reader's Name, Title, Organization and Address
- Salutation (Dear ______________ )
NOTE:Use title and last name. (example: Dear Ms. Smith:, Dear Dr. Smith:, Dear Mr. Smith:. If you do not have a name, use the title (example: Dear Human Resource Manager:). If you have a name but are not sure if the person is a male or female, use the full name with no title (Dear Lynn Smith:). Remember that business letter salutations should use a colon for punctuation (: ).
- Opening Paragraph
NOTE: Introduce why you are writing the letter. State the name of the position you seek and mention how you heard of the opening or organization.
- Middle Paragraph
NOTE: In this section, describe your major skills or strengths related to the position you seek. Create interest and show how you can be of value to the organization. Do NOT just repeat everything in your resume.