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Introduction to Resumes & Letter Writing


An Effective resume succinctly describes your education and experience in relation to the job you are applying for. You will often make your first impressions on employers through your writing, and you’ll want those impressions to be outstanding. Your resume is a written snapshot that should clearly support your career goal and be tailored to that position. Information on the resume should be presented in order of relevance to the position

Developing a Resume
  • Analyze the job description for skills and abilities Review job descriptions for the skills and abilities that employers are seeking. Read through the descriptions and highlight the required skills, attributes and qualifications. Use these words in your resume.
  • Create a list of accomplishments
    Take some time to think about your accomplishments: things that you did well, enjoyed doing, and were proud of. Include education, training, internships, volunteer opportunities, jobs, projects, school assignments, travel. Describe in detail what you did, who you did it with, what equipment you used and what happened. Quantify your results, if possible, and use commonly understood terminology. Identify the personal strengths and skills that you used to achieve your accomplishments. Don’t be humble; this is your chance to promote your skills and abilities.
  • Analyze experiences for relevant skill areas Analyze your experiences to identify your skill areas.
  • Write descriptive phrases
    Using action verbs, write short phrases to describe what you did that illustrates each skill. Be concise and specific. Arrange the descriptive phrases in order of relevance to the position for which you are applying.  
  • Choose the appropriate format
    There are several resume formats to choose from so be sure to choose the format that best presents your background and qualifications. Samples of each resume format can be found in the Sample Resumes section.
    • Chronological
      The resume lists your background in a reverse chronological sequence, starting with the most recent. You may arrange you’re heading in various ways, depending upon what aspects of your background you wish to stress. This format works best when your work, volunteer and academic experiences relate directly to the type of job for which you are applying.  It is preferred by most on-campus recruiters and business employers.  
    • Skills/functional
      This resume highlights your most important skills or functions. Headings are built around these areas. Job titles, employers and dates of employment are listed in a brief section at the bottom of the page. This format allows you highlight skills, knowledge and abilities relevant to the position regardless of where and when you obtained them. It works well when your work experience is not directly related to your career goal. You are entering the job market for the first time, or you are making a career change.  
Use a Resume to:
  • Respond to an advertised job vacancy.
  • Send to employers that interest you after you have researched an organization.
  • Accompany government or other formal application forms.
  • Present to a potential employer at the time of an interview.
  • Reinforce a personal contact you have already established with an employer.
  • Submit to employers before on-campus interviews.
  • Accompany a request that someone write a letter of recommendation for employment for you.
  • Present to a professional association employment committee or conference placement service.
Sending Resumes and Letters Electronically
  • When submitting a resume via an organization’s website, use the formatting and display style recommended by the website. To send your resume via email, find out the employer’s format preference when possible. Although some recruiters accept attachments, others prefer your resume be included in the text of the employer’s preference, send it both ways in one message. Unless you are told otherwise, include a cover letter. Send both the resume and cover letter in one email message.
Tips for sending your resume as an attachment
  • Create your resume using a common word processing program. Give the document a name the recruiter will associate with you, such as "MillerJennifer.doc". This will enable a recruiter or employer to find your resume once it is saved on a computer. Don’t name the document "Resume.doc". Be absolutely sure your document is free of viruses. Send it electronically to a friend to make sure it is easy to open, the formatting stays correct, and the document is virus-free.
Key Components That Attract Attention To Resumes

You will note that we recommend a simple, straightforward, eye-catching format with dynamic headings. This emphasizes the most important factors first.

Therefore, we begin with the Profile, Skills, and Accomplishments. Even if you are just out of college, you have skills and accomplishments from college that will generate the employer’s interest.

It is true that employers like to see a career objective. But remember, this may limit your being considered for various positions, because a Profile covers a broader range. You can add the objective to the Profile such as in the example below.

We continue to stress the importance of a Profile followed by Skills and Accomplishments to enhance your value to the employer. Accomplishments impress people, and this is your opportunity to sell yourself. Use action words to your best advantage.

Remember, you must make a good impression in Twenty Seconds. If you have special qualifications, by all means show them, especially if you cannot show accomplishments.

Remember: You only get one chance for a first good impression!!

Format for College Students or New Graduates

You can still use the basic format, but it will have to be structured to emphasize your education and training, and any work experience of activities during college. For example, your Profile could read like this:

Motivated college graduate with training in computer technology Pursuing a career in systems analysis.

Do not embellish how much value you can be to the company right out of college with no experience. Do not antagonize the employer or insult his or her intelligence.