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Resume writing tips

Resume layout

Summary

A summary statement is a great way to start your resume. A good summary highlights your qualifications, accomplishments and skills. The statement should clarify exactly what type of position you want, why you are qualified and what you can contribute to the role. Ideally, the summary statement should be four to six lines in length.

Work experience

Work experience can be arranged in several ways. The two most common formats are reverse chronological and functional. See the links to samples below which illustrate how work experience can be structured. Notice the use of action verbs, concise sentences, and the overall appearance of the resume.

Education

If you received your degree in the last three years and it relates to your target position, it should be placed near the top of the resume. Include your GPA if it is 3.5 or higher.

If you did not complete school, it should not be the first item listed on your resume. Instead include the school name you attended and your focus during school.

Technical skills or certificates

Technical skills should be listed on your resume, along with certificates obtained in skill-based training. Proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite is an example of a technical skill you may want to include on your resume. However, if you list Microsoft Office Suite on your resume, make sure you are proficient in all Microsoft Office products, including Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. If there are varying levels of knowledge within a skill, list the level of training you've completed (i.e. Microsoft Word Intermediate).

Resume writing guidelines

Speak the language

  • Your resume should help answer the question "Why should I hire you?"
  • Communicate the information necessary to evaluate your ability to do the job successfully.
  • Use language that is appropriate to the department/division.
  • Know terms specific to the position. (For example, a job applicant interested in a Human Resources position would likely be familiar with EEO laws, company policies and keywords that relate to Human Resources.)
  • Be aware that extreme terminology may not speak to those who are between you and the ultimate hiring manager.

Use concise sentences

  • Avoid large paragraphs. Use short sentences that provide small, digestible pieces of information.
  • People remember what they see first and last so place your least important information in the middle of your resume.

Use action verbs

Utilizing strong verbs in your resume can help bring a sense of power and direction to your work experience as well as catch the eye of a potential employer. Try to add positive action verbs to your resume where possible and relevant. The list below features a selection of such verbs to help you strengthen your resume and effectively market yourself.

AchievedAddedConsolidated
CoordinatedCreatedDeveloped
DesignedDirectedEliminated
EstablishedEvaluatedExpanded
GeneratedIdentifiedIncreased
MaintainedManagedNegotiated
OrganizedPerformedPlanned
ProvidedPurchasedReduced
SavedSimplifiedStreamlined
StrengthenedStructuredSupervised
TrainedTransformedUtilized
VerifiedWorkedWrote

Proofread until it’s perfect

Proofread, re-read and read again. Be sure to look for errors in punctuation, grammar and spelling. Relying on your computer’s spell-check feature may not result in accuracy. Avoid repeating words or phrases. Give sufficient and accurate information and assume your employers will check your sources for accuracy.

Neatness counts

  • Limit your resume to a maximum of two pages, unless your job is of a highly scientific or technical nature.
  • Print your resume on conventional white or off-white paper.
  • Don't use fancy font styles which may be difficult to read; the most common types used are Arial and Times New Roman with a font size between 10 and 12.
  • Use bullets to help structure your resume.
  • Underline, boldface and italicize to highlight credentials.
  • Be consistent and use the same grammatical style.

Sample resumes

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