What goes into a resume?
The main sections usually found in a resume are listed below, with suggestions for
what to put in each. For a given resume, you will probably not use all of these.
Remember, your resume should not be more than two pages long, unless you have a lot
of really remarkable experience - and you're better off to try for one page, especially
in the early stages of your career. So, with this warning in mind, here are some of
the ingredients used in cooking up a resume:
- The Basics - Your name should appear at the top of your resume,
and your contact information (phone number, email address, fax number, and
mailing address) should, generally, be right under your name. Both are
usually centered at the top of your resume.
- Objective - Some people include a heading for their "Goal",
"Goals", or "Objective" - but many others do not. If you do, keep it simple,
avoid cliches, and place the "Objective" section right after your name and
contact information. Your "Objective" should in some way match up with the
type of jobs you will be applying for with this resume.
- Education - Some people put education first, followed by
experience and accomplishments; others put education after those sections.
It is best to put whatever is strongest first, though you should
also ask around to see which order is more common in your field. In your
education section, list all postsecondary schooling and training you have
had, starting with the most recent. Unless you do not have any education
past high school, or had some remarkable achievements as a teenager (such
as discovering cold fusion), do not include your high school
education or anything else from your younger years.
- Experience - In the Experience section, you need
to balance two goals. First, you want potential employers to know what you
have done and accomplished. Second, you need to keep your resume as brief as
possible, which may mean leaving some of the details of your experience and
accomplishments out of your resume. How do you balance these two goals?
Carefully! Remember that in writing a resume you are allowed to use a
"telegraphic" style - this means that you can leave "unessential" words out,
just as if you were sending a telegram. So, for example, if you worked in a
warehouse setting up an Excel spreadsheet for the dispatchers to use in planning
how to handle incoming and outgoing shipments, and making sure that there
were loading docks available for each truck, and so on, you wouldn't say
"I worked in a warehouse where I set up a spreadsheet to ..." Instead,
you might say something like "Wrote planning tool for coordinating incoming,
outgoing shipments and dock usage, using Excel." This is bad writing, but
fine for a resume. Keep in mind that "experience" can inclde volunteer work,
internships, work done through school projects, or anything else, paid or
unpaid, that was relevantly similar to the kind of work you want to do.
If possible, you should emphasize "real" jobs, but if you have done significant
bookkeeping work as a volunteer for your church or temple, for example,
this certainly makes you a better candidate for a bookkeeping job.
- Accomplishments - If you have won awards, citations, or scholarships,
or been voted to honorary offices, you may want to include these in your resume,
particularly if you feel that people in your field of work would be impressed.
Any success that you have had, in any area of life, may be of interest, depending
on what sort of work you are applying for. Be open-mided at first - you can
always edit out the excess later.
Often, when writing a resume, people forget all that they have done in their lives,
and the recognition they have received. Try to remember everything you can - you
may be pleasantly surprised to find that you have accomplished more than you
thought you had!
- Credentials, Memberships, Affiliations - In some cases, professional affiliatons
may be relevant. If you are applying for a job teahing engineering classes, your
membership in engineers' professional societies shows that you are involved in the
field, and you may have a better understanding of what students need to know to become
professional engineers than someone with a similar degree, but no such affiliation.
- Skills, Languages, Interests, Activities - Sometimes you may have skills that
are very relevant to the jobs you are applying for, but which do not show up anywhere
on your resume. In this case you should list them separately in a "Skills" section.
The same section may include languages you know. "Interests" or "Activities" sections
are sometimes included by some resume writers, but they should probably only be included
if you can use them to add specifically to your appeal as a job candidate. Some people
feel that they should try to show that they are "well-rounded" by documenting their
hobbies and so forth, but, if you think about it, aren't we all basically "well-rounded"?
Now, in some cases, your photography hobby may indicate that you have a good eye for
design work, or your training as a long-distance runner may show that you are in good
physical condition. Depending on the jobs you are applying for, these may be good
virtues to have, and so including these hobbies may be a very good idea. But use
careful judgement - everything on your resume that doesn't help you get a job is a waste
of the small precious space you have available in which to show why you should
be hired, above all other candidates