A resume is a concise overview of an individual's background which highlights the experience and skills most relevant to a career field. Background information includes education, work experience, skills, volunteer work, and leadership. A resume is easily confused with a curriculum vitae (CV). A CV is a longer (2-4 pages) overview of an individual’s educational and academic background highlighting research, teaching, publication, and presentations. CV's are required for academic positions, fellowships, and grants.
You want to create an image of yourself as an active, vital participant in the work place. You are convincing the employer not only of your potential contributions to the job, but also your ability to adapt to a different environment.
Resume content and organization can vary from field to field. Listed below are the most common categories. Note that information such as age, weight, race, salary requirements, and marital are not included in a resume. Information on citizenship is not required. If you are a US citizen or permanent alien, however, it is a good idea to include this information. Resumes have two basic styles: Reverse Chronological and Functional or Skills Format. The Reverse Chronological is the most common format because it is clear and easy to read. The Functional/Skills resume emphasizes skills areas.
Other categories could include Professional Memberships, Publications, and Presentations.
The following are specific examples of each of the standard sections of a reverse chronological resume.
Include your full name, full address(es), telephone number(s), and e-mail address. When including your e-mail address, consider this communication with an employer to be professional. It is advised to avoid "nick names" or "cute" automatic responses. This also goes for phone messages.
If you are between addresses or will be away for an extended period of time during your job search, consider presenting current and permanent addresses.
While an objective on your resume is optional, it is one way to demonstrate focus (your focus can also be articulated on your cover letter). Be aware of being too narrow or too general. The objective may include some combination of the position of interest; industry/organization being sought; skills; and functions being sought.
This is an optional category. It can follow or replace an objective. A well-written "Qualifications" section can draw the employer's attention to your strengths. It should highlight your skills for the position for which you are applying.
In reverse-chronological order, list all of your degrees from college onward with the name of the institution and date they were awarded. List the date you expect to receive the degree for the program in which you are currently enrolled. You may also list, if relevant, courses, the name of your advisor, and your thesis title.
This category can be combined with the "Education" section or be given a separate section depending on how many awards you have received. If an award is not well-known it should be briefly explained.
Employers want to see, in chronological order, accomplishments, performance potential, progressions, promotions, transferable skills, technical knowledge, and level of responsibility.
Experience can include paid and volunteer work. Include your job title, place of employment, accurate dates of employment, and a description of the duties (in order of importance to the employer) which demonstrate your major selling points. Use action verbs to describe your work.
Employers are looking for your ability to work as a team member, as well as leadership potential, initiative, and follow-through. Consider graduate school and professional activities, highlighting leadership positions. Lead with your strengths.
This format organizes your experience by skill groups or areas of expertise. It is particularly useful when you have a number of experiences which are quite relevant to the job for which you are applying and can be logically grouped together. Headings might include "Research Experience," "International Experience," "Communication Skills," or "Technical Skills". If you have more than one group of experiences to highlight, either list your most impressive or goal-related function first, or use the order of importance listed by the employer in an ad or position description. Each of the skill groups you highlight should be qualified with concrete descriptions of experiences and skills which you utilize. Your employment history sections would then itemize job titles, employer names and addresses, and dates of employment.
A growing number of companies are using computers to process the high volume of resumes they receive. You may want to have both a conventional resume and a computer-scannable resume.
Many employers will list their e-mail address as an option to send resumes through e-mail. An e-mail resume should not be sent as an attachment, but as a plain document sent through e-mail without bold, larger print, or anything beyond the simplest features. When sending a resume by e-mail, a short cover letter should accompany the resume.
Last Updated: 10/18/10