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Build the Perfect Resume

Build the Perfect Resume

Build the perfect resume with these helpful tips.

Kay Peterson, Ph.D.

September 03, 2008

A good resume is vital. It’s your calling card to a prospective employer – one that lays out your qualifications and hopefully gets you a job interview. Remember, most employers will spend less than five minutes reviewing your resume. Follow these guidelines to make sure your resume gets you noticed.

Be sure to include these basics:

  • Contact information: Full name, phone number, school and permanent addresses, email address.
  • Education: School, degree, date of completion, honors, special course work. If you’re still in school, provide your expected date of completion.
  • Experience: In addition to work history, include relevant non-professional experience, such as internships, extracurricular activities and significant volunteer work.
  • Skills: List any computer systems, office equipment and software programs you are experienced with.
  • Other categories: If they are relevant, include publications, awards, leadership positions or other notable achievements.
  • The two most popular formats are:

    • Chronological: To emphasize your work history, list your jobs and activities, beginning with your most recent experiences.
    • Functional: To emphasize your skill sets, group your experiences under categorical headings, such as Leadership or Technology Support.
    • The key is to pick a format that presents your achievements effectively, and is easy to read and comprehend. See below for samples of a number of resume formats.

      Tips for a Winning Resume:

      • Keep it brief. Try to keep your resume to one page. There are cases where a resume might be longer but one page should suffice for students and recent graduates. Write lean sentences and use bullet points to be succinct.
      • Provide meaningful descriptions of your experiences. When detailing your job history, use short sentences or fragments to demonstrate your relevant experience.
      • Use strong action words. For example: “developed and implemented a new filing system”; “created two new membership programs.”
      • Use formatting to help you out. Capitalize and use boldface, italics or underlining to help organize the information.
      • Proofread. Use spellcheck, doublecheck your contact information and make sure your formatting is consistent. Ask a friend or family member to proofread it as well. Check for errors that spellcheck programs miss (i.e. there vs. their; to, too or two).
      • Custom fit your resume. Revise your resume for each job application to make sure it fits the opportunity at hand.
      • The final test: Take a look at your resume from arm’s distance. Is it confusing and text-heavy? Or is it easy to find the information you need? Do whatever is needed to make your resume reader friendly.


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