Here are four basic considerations to keep in mind when planning your resume:
1. What information do potential employers need to know about you?
2. What categories would offer the best ways of grouping that information?
3. What language would allow you to present your skills and experience in the strongest way?
4. What design would make your qualifications stand out on the page?
Most resumes convey a standard body of information. Traditionally, you should include most or all of the following information:
- name and address(es)
- "objective" (optional)
- college, degree, major, date of graduation
- names of significant courses or areas of concentration (optional)
- honors or awards, if any
- job experience
- extracurricular activities
- affiliations with organizations (if pertinent to job--for example, professional organizations or "accounting club")
- skills (optional, but sometimes a way to get your agenda across. Skills can be anything from "Familiarity with PageMaker and Lotus" to "Strong Communication Skills")
- names of references or indication of how to get names of references
- hobbies (optional and I personally prefer resumes without this section)
- Be sure to provide the necessary facts about each item, for example: dates, names of businesses or organizations, your title(s), responsibilities.
The categories you choose as ways of grouping your information will depend on the nature of your background and the nature of the job for which you are applying. For example, if you have substantial leadership experience from your work with college clubs, do you want to call that "Extracurricular Activities" or is there a more professional label which can be used? You could call it "Experience" or "Leadership/Management Experience" or anything you choose.
When describing your various experiences and responsibilities, be sure to use language which is likely to meet the agenda of potential employers. In other words, if you were a manager at a Burger King, don't just say "counter service." That sounds like peon work. Talk about "supervising," "training and evaluating employees," "responsible for balancing closing receipts," and so forth.
Employers receive a great many resumes and may have little time or energy for reading them. Make sure your qualifications stand out on the page. Think about layout.
How can you use typefaces to help--capitals, bold, italics, underlining? (If the thing which is most impressive about your background is your job titles, make sure those stand out the most. On the other hand, if you had low level jobs at impressive places, make sure the organization titles stand out.)
How can you use white space to make your items more visible and appealing? If you jam everything together, no one will feel like reading your resume. Use margins, use spaces in between categories.
Make it easy to read information within your categories. For example, don't assume that when you are describing your job responsibilities you use a paragraph form. People may sometimes be more inclined to read a list of briefly stated responsibilities than a block of prose.
Below you will find links to some sample job resumes and tips on resume writing. See if these examples help you imagine the alternatives available. Which resumes seem most persuasive to you? Remember, there is no one right way to do a resume. You need to design the package that works best for you. One last suggestion: when drafting a resume, circulate it among your friends, family, teachers, and coworkers. Each person may offer a good suggestion.
Good Resume Examples
Monster.Com Resume Builder and Samples
The New York Times Job Market
The New York Times Resume Builder
Professional CVs and Resumes
Suggestions from Career Services at the University of Michigan
10 Tips to Bullet Proof Your Resume