Craft a Great Resume

A resume is a tailored document highlighting your skills, education, goals, and experience. It is a summary of qualifications for a job, internship, scholarship, or other opportunity. Employers will often spend far less than 30 seconds looking at each resume, so yours needs to stand out. The resources below will help guide you through the process.

Prepare Your Content

You will want to prepare your content before you begin formatting your resume. Start by listing out your activities. Include paid work, volunteer positions, internships, leadership and extracurricular activities. Depending on how much you have done, this list might go back a few years or more. Write a paragraph about each activity. Describe your accomplishments as well as your duties.

Then select several items to highlight in your resume. What are your greatest strengths? And what are the skills required for the job or industry you’re applying for? Highlight the activities that demonstrate those strengths and attest to your ability to meet the needs of the job.


Format Your Resume

Most employers spend only 20 to 30 seconds looking at each resume during the first read through, so you need to make an immediate impact. 

  • Condense your resume to one page
  • Leave approximately 1-inch margins and plenty of white space
  • Design your resume for easy skimming
  • Emphasize important elements by using type elements such as boldface and italics
  • Use bullet points instead of paragraphs
  • Proofread carefully and have a trusted person proof read it
  • Save your resume as a PDF to maintain formatting


Sections of Your Resume


Action Verbs and Keywords

Can one word make a difference? Yes! Choose your words carefully when writing a resume. Strong action verbs provide power and direction. Start each line of your resume with an action verb instead of more passive words. Use keywords to make sure your resume gets noticed. 

Keyword Strategies

  • When you’re applying for a position, be sure to include keywords or skills from the job listing in your resume.
  • Browse online job listings in your field. Words that appear consistently in a variety of ads are your "key" words. Company pages on LinkedIn are another good resource.
  • Talk to professionals in your industry.
  • Include at least four industry- or job-specific keywords in your resume. The ideal number is 12.

Keyword Examples*

PROFESSIONAL SUMMARY: Award-winning corporate controller with more than ten years’ experience in two $500 million corporations. Impressive record implementing financial record database architecture that saved over $2 million annually. Proficient in Oracle, Prism, Red Brick, and SAP systems, as well as MS Project, Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and FrontPage.

Languages: C, SQL, C++, Assembler, Pascal
Software: Oracle Developer 2000, Informix NewEra, FoxPro
OS: UNIX, Windows NT/95/3.11, MS-DOS
RDBMS: Oracle7, Informix 7

*Pam Dixon, Job Searching Online for Dummies

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