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Resumes 101

I won’t lie. Resume writing can be a bit of a chore. It’s a necessary one though in getting a job. Many employers want a resume these days and even online applications have a section where you upload one. Resumes are important because they show off some of your skills, abilities, and achievements. They can also get you an interview faster than someone who filled in the bare minimum on an application. It represents your high interest in working for a company and creates a positive first impression when done well.

Before you type a single word, you should consider your formatting. Keep your margins at one inch or close to it. Chose a simple easy to read font such as Times New Roman, Calibri, or Arial. Do not use frilly fonts and definitely avoid Comic Sans. The font size should be between 10 and 12 depending on the font you use. You don’t want it so small it’s difficult to read. Too large and you take up too much space. Space is premium on a resume as it should absolutely be no longer than 2 pages. Remember that a resume is only one part of the process; leave something to put in cover letter and to talk about in the interview.

Below is a picture of how we do resumes at the Career Centers:

You’ll see by looking it over that it uses bullet points. Bullet Points are essential as it looks sharper and more concise. Nothing should be in paragraph form. You should also notice that the resume focuses on skills much more so than work history or education. It’s because employers are more interested in what you are able to do for them rather than where you did it.

Let’s briefly break down the sections.

Your contact information needs to be your name, phone number, and a professional email. Yes, an email is necessary as most online applications will require it.

Summary of qualifications is where you grab the hiring manager attention and make them want to keep reading. Hiring managers take about 10 seconds a resume unless something makes them continue reading. Therefore, you want the best of the best of your skills, abilities, achievements, etc. going in this spot. No more than five bullet points in this section though. Remember you have the rest of the resume to fill out.

The summary of skills is where you make your resume ATS (application tracking software) compliant. Each bullet point should be a one to two word keyword, such as customer service, OSHA 10, or reliable. These keywords should come directly from the job ad so read it carefully to find them. Using these keywords will get your resume through the software and into the hands of a person so don’t skip this section.

Professional qualifications is where you breakout your skills into groups, such as production skills, customer service skills, leadership skills, and so on. Each skill group should have a minimum of three bullet points and up to five or six unless you don’t have many skill groups. If you have a lot of skills groups, limit the number of groups to the ones most relevant to the job you are applying for. The model above mentions action words. These are verbs such as perform, manage, and build. Use action verbs to describe what you did rather than something passive like “able to”.

Work history should only go back about 10 years unless of course you been at a job for more than 10 years. We suggest 10 years as you don’t want to be too extensive as to age yourself.

Education needs to be your most recent education. For example, if you have an Associate’s degree in Criminal Justice there’s no need to mention your high school diploma as it can be assumed that you graduated high school. If you have a bachelor’s that in a different field as your associate’s, you can list both. Just some college? It’s okay to say “X semesters of Business”. If your education ended with high school then list your diploma. Didn’t finish high school? Leave education off.

The last thing to mention in this very basic resume article is to make sure your resume contains no typos, misspellings, or grammatical errors. Have someone look it over for you to sure it’s perfect.


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