Resume Success Tips

Parts of a Resume

Before you write, take time to do a self-assessment on paper. Outline your skills and abilities as well as your work experience and extracurricular activities. This will make it easier to prepare a thorough resume.

When you do this, be sure to write down dates as it can be very important – especially in showing that you have a consistent work history. Gaps in work history do not bear well with potential employers as it gives the impression that you are not reliable.

Gather together the names of the businesses you have worked for along with their address and phone number and the name of your immediate supervisor at the time. Do not include salary history on a general resume. If salary comes up, it will be during the interview or at the time you are – hopefully – offered the job.

Note special achievements and awards you have received along with the date you received them. You may also want to include a blurb about the qualifications that needed to be met in order to receive that award.

But we are getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s begin with the heading of the resume.

The Heading

The heading of your resume provides basic contact information about you. That means your name, address, any telephone numbers you are available at and your e-mail address. You can arrange this information in a variety of ways. The simple way is like this:

Michelle Smith
555 My Bright Way
Yourtown, IL 54321
Home Phone: (555) 555-5555
Cell Phone: (555) 444-4444

The important thing to remember about the heading is that it contains your up-to-date pertinent information and highlights your name. Here are some other pointers to remember when writing the heading of your resume:

1)Avoid nicknames.
2)Use a permanent address. Use your parents' address, a friend's address, or the address you plan to use after graduation.
3)Use a permanent telephone number and include the area code. If you have an answering machine, record a neutral greeting.
4)Add your e-mail address. Many employers will find it useful. (Note: Choose an e-mail address that sounds professional.)
5)Include your web site address only if the web page reflects your professional ambitions.

The next section is your objective statement.

The Objective Statement

There are two schools of thought regarding an objective statement. Some people say you shouldn’t include this on a resume because that is what your cover letter is for. Other people say that stating what you want to accomplish in your career is probably the most important part of the resume.

You can choose to include an objective statement if you like, but if you do, you need to know a few things. First and foremost, this statement should be brief and concise – not more than a sentence or two. An objective tells potential employers the sort of work you're hoping to do.

Be specific about the job you want. For example: To obtain an entry-level position within a financial institution requiring strong analytical and organizational skills. Tailor your objective to each employer you target/every job you seek.

Objective statements improve your resume by helping you:

1) Emphasize your main qualifications and summarize them for readers
2) Inform your readers of the position(s) you are seeking and your career goals
3) establish your professional identity

To improve your chances for success, it's always a good idea to tailor your objective statement (as well as your whole resume and cover letter) to particular organizations and/or positions. This means, for example, calling a position by the name the company uses to describe it. You might even indicate the organization's name in your statement.

Strive to match your qualifications with those desired by the organization. If you are unsure what your résumé’s readers will be looking for, you'll need to do some research to give your objective statement a competitive edge.

Before drafting or revising your objective statement, you will find it helpful to answer as many of the following questions as possible.

About you:

1) What are your main qualifications (strengths, skills, areas of expertise)
2) What positions (or range of positions) do you seek?
3) What are your professional goals?
4) What type of organization or work setting are you interested in?

About the Company or Organization:

1) Which of your qualifications are most desired by your résumé’s readers?
2) What position titles (or range or positions) are available?
3) What are some goals of the organizations that interest you?
4) What types of organizations or work settings are now hiring?

The most common mistake made in writing objective statements is being too general and vague in describing either the position desired or your qualifications. For example, some objective statements read like this:

An internship allowing me to utilize my knowledge and expertise in different areas.

Such an objective statement raises more questions than it answers: What kind of internship? What knowledge? What kinds of expertise? Which areas? Be as specific as possible in your objective statement to help your readers see what you have to offer "at a glance."

To come up with an objective statement that is effective, try one of these formulas:

1. To emphasize a particular position and your relevant qualifications

A position as a [name or type of position] allowing me to use my [qualifications]
To utilize my [qualifications] as a [position title]
A position as a Support Specialist allowing me to use my skills in the fields of computer science and management information systems.

2. To emphasize the field or type of organization you want to work in and your professional goal or your main qualifications

An opportunity to [professional goal] in a[type of organization, work environment, or field]
To enter [type of organization, work environment, or field] allowing me to use my [qualifications]
An opportunity to obtain a loan officer position, with eventual advancement to vice president for lending services, in a growth-oriented bank
To join an aircraft research team allowing me to apply my knowledge of avionics and aircraft electrical systems

3. To emphasize your professional or career goal or an organizational goal

To [professional goal]
An opportunity to [professional goal]
To help children and families in troubled situations by utilizing my child protection services background

4. A specific position desired

[position name]
Technical writer specializing in user documentation
Some things to keep in mind when formulating your objective statement include the following:

Integrate key words and phrases used in the job advertisement(s) Play with word choices to fit your strengths and your readers' expectations. You might try substituting for "use" words like "develop," "apply," or "employ," etc.

replacing "allowing me" with "requiring" or "giving me the opportunity," etc.
changing "enter" to "join," "pursue," "obtain," "become a member," "contribute," etc.
Blend two or more of the above generic models or create your own!

Depending on the format of your resume, the objective section should be written in sentence format with its own heading.

The next two sections are interchangeable depending on which applies the most to the position you are applying for. If you think your job experience is more relevant to the job then list “job experience” next. If it is your education that will help most, then put that section next.

Job Experience

This is the most complex section of your resume, and it is required, although you have a great deal of freedom in the way your present your experiences. To get started on this section, make a list of your job titles and the names, dates and locations of places where you worked.

Break each job (paid or unpaid) into short, descriptive phrases or sentences that begin with action verbs. These phrases will highlight the skills you used on the job, and help the employer envision you as an active person in the workplace. Use action words to describe the work you did.

You may choose special typestyles, bolding, underlining, or placement to draw your reader's attention to the information you want to emphasize. When the company you worked for is more impressive than your job title, you may want to highlight that information.

Briefly give the employer an overview of work that has taught you skills. Include your work experience in reverse chronological order—that is, put your last job first and work backward to your first, relevant job. Include:

Title of position,
Name of organization
Location of work (town, state)
Dates of employment
Describe your work responsibilities with emphasis on specific skills and achievements.

You should probably not go back more than your three previous jobs so that your resume doesn’t get too long. However, you will want to include any job experience that is relevant to the job you are applying for to show you have experience in that field. Here's an example below:

April, 1998 - XYZ Corporation; Anywhere, IL Present Position: Sales Analyst Duties: To monitor sales activities for 20 sales people, calculate profit/loss, make suggestions for improvement, hold educational seminars to insures sales are progressing effectively, prepare annual statements, formulate and implement new procedures to improve efficiency ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

There are many, many more ways that you can layout this section and it all depend on how your whole resume is laid out. As long as you have the basic information about what company you worked for, when you worked for them, your position at the company, and your job duties, then you should be covered.

Next is the education section.


This section can be set up much like the job experience section –it all really depends on what format you are choosing for your resume. This section is an important one for most students, and it is a required element of the resume. In this section, you should include:

The name and location of your college or university
Your degree and graduation date
Your major(s) and minor(s)
Grade point average (your cumulative GPA and your major GPA are optional)

Use placement of information, bold type or underlining to highlight the features you want to emphasize. It is sometimes necessary to pinpoint a feature or features that make you standout among other students.

For example, students bold their university or college if they feel like that is a distinctive feature. Others may decide to bold their type of degree.

New graduates without a lot of work experience should list their educational information first. Alumni can list it after the work experience section.

Be sure the following is included in the education section of your resume:

Your most recent educational information is listed first.
Include your degree (A.S., B.S., B.A., etc.)
Your major, institution attended, and your minor/concentration.
Add your grade point average (GPA) if it is higher than 3.0.
Mention academic honors.

Here are two examples of education sections, with different information emphasized.

Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana Bachelor of Science, May 1999 Major: Supervision; GPA 5.5/6.0

Bachelor of Science in Accounting, May 1999 Minor in Finance, GPA: 5.5/6.0 Major, 5.2/6.0 Overall Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana

In your education section, you may want to include a couple of sub-groups – especially if you are a recent graduate looking for your first position. The first sub-group is “Related Course Work”.

This is an optional part of your Education section, which can be quite impressive and informative for potential employers. Students seeking internships may want to list all completed major-related courses.

Graduates might list job-related courses different than those required to receive the degree (employers will already be aware of those). Include high-level courses in optional concentrations, foreign languages, computer applications or communications classes. You may choose more meaningful headings such as "Computer Applications" if you wish to emphasize particular areas.

Remember - employers and recruiters are familiar with the basic courses required in your major. Limit these sections to special courses or skills you have to offer.

Another optional sub-group in the education section is “Special Projects”. This optional section may be added to point out special features of your education that are particularly interesting to employers or that may make you more qualified than others for the job you are seeking.

Students often include research, writing, or computer projects. Limit your description to the most important facts. You may expand your discussion in your application letter.

If you like, you can include any awards you received or special achievements in this section, but most resumes will have a separate section for this to cover not only academic awards but also business awards.

Our next section has to do with your special abilities as they apply to the position you are trying to land.

Skills and Qualifications

While not all resumes contain a skills section, this may be helpful when you want to emphasize the skills you have acquired from your various jobs or activities, rather than the duties, or the job title.

If you do not have enough previous experience for a specific job you are seeking for, it is important to emphasize your skills pertaining to that job.

Skills can be just as important as work experience to employers. To prepare this section you should:

List jobs, activities, projects and special offices. Think of skills you have gained through those experiences. Group these skills into 3 - 5 job related skills categories and use these as headings.

List your skills with significant details under the headings. Arrange headings in order of importance as they relate to your career objective. Arrange skills under headings in order of importance according to your goal.

In this section, you will also want to include any office machines you have experience operating, software programs you have become proficient in, and anything else that you feel might put you over the top with the job.

Awards and Achievements

You can choose a few different ways to word this section. If you like, it can be titled “Activities and Honors” or “Awards and Organizations”. It really is up to you. You have to tailor your resume to your specific needs as well as towards what type of job you are applying for.

This optional section points out your leadership, sociability and energy level as shown by your involvement in different activities. This should be your shortest section and should support your career objective. Additional information about activities can be included in your application letter or discussed at your interview.

You should:

Select only activities and honors that support your career objective. List your college or professional organizations and arrange them in order of importance as they relate to your career objective. Include any office or official position you held. Spell out any acronyms your employer may not recognize. Include dates.

Example: Accounting Club, President Alpha Zeta Professional Fraternity Purdue Grand Prix Foundation, President Purdue Association for the Education of Young Children (PAEYC)

For any awards, you should include the year you received the award. You also may want to include a brief explanation of the criteria that you had to meet in order to get that honor.

Finally, you will wrap up your resume with a references section.


This is the shortest section of your resume because it should only consist of one sentence – “References are available upon request.” You should generally not include references on your resume. You will put your references on a separate reference sheet which we will address in the next section.

If the job you are applying for asks in the advertisement to include references when you send in your resume, you should change the “References” section to read “References are attached.”

This the end of this part of your resumes success tips. I will now go on by sending another email out to you more in depth information about your references and continue with that. You can always come back here and go through the process.

See you soon!