Visit a local library or bookstore and review professionally written résumés that focus on your job title, area or industry. Concentrate on content, format and style. Decide if you need a section for professional experience, education, technological skills and affiliations. Choose a standard font.
List your information from the most important to your potential employer (not to you) to the least important.
Begin with your heading. It should include your full name, one that can be found on academic and employer records, and your complete address. Include your e-mail address as long as it’s professional sounding. Include your phone number, one that can be used to reach you, not one that will always reach an answering machine or voice mail. Don’t make it difficult for your potential employer to reach you.
State your objective, your career goals and the type of work you’re seeking in the first paragraph. The rest of your resume should support your objective.
Include the industry you want to work in or the type of work you want to do or the skills you want to apply or some combination. Do not write in generalities; be specific. State clearly if you’re looking for an internship, summer job or part-time job.
Create more than one resume if you have several different career goals or employment objectives.
Tailor or target your resume to the specific job you are applying for.
Include a summary of your qualifications and how they would benefit your potential employer.
Include keywords that reflect skills and experience necessary for the type of position your applying for and the industry you’re targeting.
Include a keyword summary.
List your experiences, jobs, education, achievements and awards that support your application for a particular position. If your education is your most recent significant accomplishment, then start there. If you’re still in school, state that you’re “completing” a degree, not that you’re x number of years away, etc.
Include your degree or degrees, your major/program, and the month and year that you will graduate, not “in the near future.” Include the complete name of your university or institution and it’s complete address. If relevant (and positive), include your overall or major grade point average.
List your technical or continuing education experience, coursework, class projects, independent studies and publications if they are related to your career goal or the position you’re applying for. Emphasize skills learned and demonstrated and any knowledge gained or abilities developed that are relevant.
If you have experience unrelated to your career goals, list each position or project briefly. A potential employer will want to know that you have basic work skills and ethics.
For each one, list your title, the name and location of the business or organization, dates of employment or involvement and a concise description of your accomplishments.
List academic awards, scholarships, scholastic achievements under a separate heading unless they are particularly significant and/or relevant to your career goal or the job you’re applying for. Then, they can be listed more prominently with your other experiences. List them in order or importance or significance, but always use complete names of organizations or businesses and include a brief description of each entity if it’s not apparent. Describe these as accomplishments.
If you have held positions of leadership within a group or organization, and it is relevant to your career goals, briefly describe your accomplishments just as you would if it was a paid position.
Include a separate section on certifications and licenses you have earned, if they are relevant to your career goals.
Include at least one paragraph that specifically describes your skills as they relate to your career goals and the job you are applying for. This could include computer, laboratory, office and language skills. If your skills are more closely related to your career objectives than your experience, education or awards, consider using the skills format resume or move the skills section of your resume higher in the document
If you have traveled internationally or have foreign language skills, you should note this in the skills section of your resume.
Include a note on your availability, especially if you are still a student, unless you are applying for a position that is compatible with your academic schedule such as an internship or career-related summer employment. Employers must know when you are able to start working.
Try to keep your resume to two pages.
Do not include anything negative or self-critical in your resume.
Do not list references.
Do not include a photo.
Do not include age or date of birth, gender or marital status or any other personal information of this sort.
Do not neglect proofreading. A spelling mistake can cost you a potential job, especially if there are several or glaring ones.
Do not label your resume as “Resume.”
Do not include personal Web sites unless they are strictly professional or academic.
If your Facebook account has anything that might reflect badly on you, clean it up!
Do not include your high school degree in your educational experience.
Resources: CareerPerfect.com, www.careerperfect.com; Career Services at Virginia Tech, www.career.vt.edu