For examples on how to format your résumé, cover letter, and some action phrases that will help improve your résumé
To sell anything, you must advertise. Your résumé advertises YOU. A well-written résumé will not only get you a job interview but also help you organize your thoughts going into that interview.
Not all résumés have to be the same format -- there are other varieties of résumés that can be explored to have your résumé fit your strengths. Also, be sure to check out the section on cover letters.
There is no one right way to write a résumé, but they should contain the following information in some form:
- Indentifying Data
- Job Objective
- Work History
- Achievements, Honors, Interests or Activities
Name, address, telephone number, e-mail. You may want to list both your campus address and your permanent address if they are different. Don't include age, weight, marital status, number of children, or a personal photograph.
You will probably have a different objective for each job you apply for. If there is no objective included in the cover letter or resume, the reader may feel that you have not thought out your career goals. Vagueness does not communicate flexibility; it communicates a lack of direction.
An objective is a concisely written, simply worded statement about the kind of position you are seeking. Most include some of the following:
- job title
- skills that you hope to use
- the industry you would like to be in
- the geographic area where you would like to be located
Avoid clichés. Briefly detail how you see yourself functioning in the position or what skills you can offer - "Full-time elementary teaching position in an Oregon school district where enthusiasm for learning, excellent organizational skills, and a positive, consistent approach to classroom management would be assets." Or, if known, just list the job title, "Assistant to the Personnel Director at Consolidated Freightways." The rest of your résumé will be organized around your job objective.
If you are just graduating or have little experience relating to your job objective, this section traditionally follows the objective. For reasons of space, only list the institutions from which you obtained degrees. List the most recent degree first and work backwards in chronological order. Include any special training.
Don't list coursework unless there was something highly unusual about your degree or if you have taken a few courses in the field you are applying in that are not reflected in your major; for example, a biology major applying at Children's Services would highlight any psychology courses.
If your GPA is 3.5 or higher you may include it. Listing a minor isn't necessary unless it is relevant to the position - for example, an anthropology major with a minor in business applying for a management training position.
As a college grad, the general rule is to leave all high school information off your résumé.
For this section, think in terms of jobs and skills that relate to the job for which you are applying. Practicums, internships, and volunteer work can be considered experience.
If you have the skills but are short on job experience you may want to title this section Skills, Abilities, or Qualifications.
For recent college grads, including a section on previous employment indicates that you have skills required in a work setting, such as timeliness, task completion, etc. Analyze each job for skills that relate to your objective.
As you advance in your professional life this section may merge with experience.
Other possibilities for this section are: Employment, Employers, Other Work Experience, Related Work Experience.
Employers often like to know how recent college grads spent their time outside of class, particularly any leadership positions. If you have received many scholastic honors, you may wish to focus on those. Don't list everything you've ever done.
Think of unusual interests or ones that relate to your career goals. Stay away from common interests such as music, reading and sports.
Other possible category titles include: Professional Memberships, Hobbies, College Activities, Awards, Related Skills.
Note: After you have two or three years of work experience, your college activities and GPA will be irrelevant. Instead, you will want to list professional and community activities, professional development courses and workshops that you have completed.
There are several schools of thought regarding references. It is our opinion that stating "References available upon request" is sufficient but that if references are asked for in a job announcement, include the names and addresses in your cover letter or attach a separate sheet, with the same heading as your résumé and cover letter.
Three or four references are sufficient. References should be selected ahead of time and permission obtained to use their names. Good references include:
- former employers
- internship and work/study supervisors
- professors with whom you have established good working relationships
- supervisors or coordinators of community service projects
- advisors to clubs and organizations