Posted by: lindseychristine | December 1, 2009

Got the Résumé Writing Blues?

Just like we would add more college gear and free t-shirts to our closets and bureaus, as college students we must continually be updating our résumés. With tough economic times and high competition for jobs these days, it’s truly important to stay on top of this frequently revised document to remain a strong candidate for the job market.

Ultimately a résumé serves as a marketing tool where you’re selling your experiences and skills to prove you are the most qualified candidate and “best fit” for a job or internship. “You are promoting yourself and if you have any hope of turning your résumé into a marketing tool, you will need to make an investment of time and effort. And that won’t happen unless you know what you want your résumé to accomplish. The purpose of a résumé is to get the job interview by catching the attention of the person that is screening it for a fit,” according to THINK Energy Group’s report on Secrets for Turning Your Resume into a Marketing Tool.

Working as a Career Resource Assistant at the University of Connecticut Department of Career Services, I critique student résumés and make résumé writing presentations to student organizations on campus and first year students. There is not one right way a résumé should look. What matters most is that it is well organized and follows a consistent format. Whether you’re applying for a full or part-time job, internship, or grad school, highlighting your experiences and strengths on a résumé can be a challenge. Here are some key components to keep in mind and sections to include to help your résumé rise to the top of the pile! Okay, here goes…

Think 1! Résumés should be 1 page, 1 font size, and have 1-inch margins. Ideally a résumé should stay on 1 page, however some majors such as nursing and education may be more than 1 page due to required related experiences which must be included on this document. Font size is typically 10-12.

Tailor your résumé to the job or field you’re applying. Keep in mind which skills or related experiences (if any) you wish to emphasize to employers that are relevant to the field.

Avoid using abbreviations. Not all employers may be familiar with organizations, such as student organizations.

Don’t include personal pronouns. Example: “I” or “my” should not be included. Résumés are objective and written in a professional tone.

No periods needed. Résumé writing includes bullet points and phrases. There is no need to include periods since sentences are not being constructed.

Résumé Headers:
Contact Information: Include your name, address, city, state, zip code, telephone number. Increase the font size of your name. Your name is the only piece of information that should stick out from the rest of the material. Including just one phone number is often encouraged, just be sure to state if it’s a cell or home phone. Also writing both current and permanent addresses and specifying which one is which is also helpful.

Objective: A short phrase that states the position or field you’re applying and 2-3 transferable skills you can apply to that job. You can make it as specific as you would like, such as including the company’s name in it. In regards to the skills you include in the objective, think about what skills someone who works in that field should have and list them in order of importance. The skills you include in your objective statement should be supported throughout your résumé.
An example: Seeking a fall internship in the field of education utilizing interpersonal, communication, and organizational skills

Education: Write out your college, location, degree (write out fully like it would appear on your diploma), minors, date of graduation. GPA is also included and written out such as, 3.50/4.00. Typically I encourage students to include a GPA if 2.5 or higher. Anything 3.0 or above should always be included. If you choose not to include a GPA on your résumé, be aware that an employer may inquire about it at an interview. Also, if you studied abroad be sure to include the school’s name, location, and dates attended.

An example:
University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH
Bachelor of Arts, Political Science, May 2011
Minor: Spanish
GPA: 3.23/4.00

Relevant Coursework: List 4-8 upper level (200+) related courses to the field you’re applying. Simply write out the course names, listing in order of significance.

Skills: Include skills that fall under categories such as computer (typically Microsoft & Mac programs listed), language (fluent or conversational), certifications. Depending on your major or field you’re applying, decide where you think it would be best to place the Skills section higher or lower up on your résumé. For example, a business student may want to place their Skill section higher up to emphasize their computer skills and knowledge.

Work Experience: Write the organization name, location, position held, months and years worked. Be sure to begin with the most recent job worked. Create bullet points to show what tasks you were responsible for completing. Start each bullet point with a strong action verb. In a bullet point discuss the task, how you did it (did you work independently? collaborate with a group?), and the result (ask yourself, What did I accomplish by completing that task?). Also, it’s essential to include different skills that you either applied or were able to acquire by working at that job. Be sure to write in the correct tenses. If you currently work at a job write in the present tense and if it’s a past job write in the past tense.

Example of a work experience:
Bertucci’s Restaurant, Boston, MA
Hostess, May 2009-Present
-Provide quality customer service by greeting and seating customers for lunch and dinner

If you have related work experience in your field, be sure to create two categories such as Related Experience and Additional Work Experience.

Activities & Volunteer Experience: State the organization, position (member or leadership role), months/years involved. If you were very involved in an activity or would like to describe your involvement feel free to create a bullet point or two.

If space allows…Interests: An optional section if you need to fill up your résumé to 1 page of content. Include hobbies or topics of interests which you feel would be appropriate conversation starters at an interview.

References available upon request. Reference information does not need to be included on a résumé. Employers will ask for them if needed. Instead, type a reference sheet with 3-4 references to bring to an interview.

Got 10 minutes? Check out a helpful Résumé Writing Overview presented by two former UConn Career Services’ employees who graduated last spring.


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