A good rule of thumb for a resume is to use one page for every ten years of relevant experience. Most resumes, then, will be one to two pages long.
Dont use a resume template. This makes your resume look like everyone elses, and you want to stand out instead. But be conservative. Unless youre in art or marketing, use white or off-white paper and a standard font, such as Times New Roman.
You cant include everything on a resume. Remember that the resume is to get an interview; the interview is what gets you the job. So select the experience that fits the desired position best. Generally you dont need to include experience that is over ten years old unless this is the most relevant to the desired position. Its okay to skip information on some jobs if they are not relevant, as long as the gap is not too long (say, over six months).
Be honest!!!! You might get a position by fibbing on a resume, but if its discovered that you did this in the future, you will lose your job, regardless of how good a job you have done.
Include your name and contact information on the top of the resume, in case it gets separated from the cover letter. To save space, you can split the information up, with your name in the center of the top lines, your street address on the left margin, and your phone and email contact information on the right margin.
Generally, avoid including information that would be illegal for an employer to ask about (age, sexual orientation, family situation, race, religion, ethnic background) unless its relevant and you dont mind having this revealed.
The resume must include the contact information, your work experience, and your academic background. All other parts are optional.
Do not use complete sentences anywhere on the resume. Use bullet lists for the work experience and academic background, rather than paragraphs, to make it very easy to skim. Most hiring managers spend under one minute reviewing a resume. You want all the important information to jump out at them in that time.
I think its a good idea to begin with a job objective that indicates what you want to do for the company (instead of what you want personally). Heres an example. (Notice that Im including a personal trait here too.)
Objective: Accounting position in which my attention to detail can ensure a companys financial records will be correct at all times.
After the objective, put either the academic or work experience section. Start with the one that is stronger for you for the desired position. Arrange everything in reverse chronological order.
For work experience, provide the following.
- Your title
- The dates (month and year) that you started and ended (Use current if still there.)
- The name of the company and its city and state
- A list of the major duties (dont try to include them all)
- A list of one to three achievements or special contributions
The achievements dont have to be huge. Noting employee of the month or stating that you suggested a new procedure that increased productivity in the factory can show that you are better than an average employee.
Heres a sample:
Salesperson, Jims Fine Shoes, Clawson, MI July 2016 November 2018
- Measured customers for exact sizing
- Provided personalized customer service
- Recorded shipments, kept stockroom organized
Started and organized Customer Appreciation Week activities that increased store traffic by a third over the previous month
For academic background, give information only for schools that you received a degree from. Dont include high school since, as college students, having a high school diploma is assumed or not relevant.
- The name, city, and state of the college or university
- Your degree and major
- Dates you started and ended
- Any student leadership or participation
- Academic honors (such as scholarships or graduating cum laude)
- If relevant, names of courses that relate to the desired position
Heres a sample, for my undergraduate school:
Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, Edinboro, PA 1971-1975
B.S. in Secondary Education, English
- Additional coursework equivalent to BA in English and BA in Philosophy
- Member, English Club, Drama Club
- Student teaching done in Tegucigalpa, Honduras
- Graduated cum laude
Here are some other sections you might use if you have space:
Volunteer work (Be aware that some volunteer work may reveal personally identifiable categories, such as religion.)
Achievements or Skills (such as knowing a language other than English or specialized computer skills)
You dont need to include references on the resume. If you want to include these, put them on a separate page.
The above information is for a standard chronological resume, which employers prefer. If you have no paid work experience, you may use a functional (skills) resume. In this, you would indicate what volunteer work or other experiences you have in place of the work experience , emphasizing the skills learned from this. If you have work experience (paid or volunteer) that does not fit the job you are applying for, you might use a combination resume, which includes a skills section plus your work experience. Heres an example of how the body of a combination resume might look:
ABA, Marketing, Macomb Community College, Warren, MI Expected completion June 2020
Relevant coursework: Introduction to Marketing, Advertising
Crew Member, McDonalds, Sterling Heights, MI. Summers, 2077-2018
- Provided quick and courteous service to customers
- Learned proper food handling regulations
*Team Member of the Month, July 2017, June 2018
Customer service: attention to customer needs, welcoming attitude
Teamwork: supported coworkers to ensure fast service during busy times; motivated volunteers
Communication: excellent written and oral abilities in communication; awareness of volunteer needs
Reliability: proactive in setting and keeping deadlines to achieve all tasks
Fund-raising chairperson, Scott Elementary School, Madison, WI 2017-18
- Developed goals for three fundraisers per academic year
- Organized committees by recruiting volunteers and chairing meetings for each team
- Communicated with school administration on progress and results
- Oversaw activities during fund-raising weeks
- Developed and hosted a volunteer thank-you lunch
Raised sufficient funds to equip new science lab in fifth grade in 2017
Raised sufficient funds to provide new playground equipment in 2018
Coordinator, Tuesday Book Club
- Maintain email list of members
- Communicate schedule of meetings and readings each week
- Arrange for library room for meetings
Instituted outreach to high school, resulting in participation by an average of six high school students each year
Today, its may not be enough to have a good cover letter and resume. Employers are interested in whether you have technological abilities, and they use the Internet to find out more about you.
One good option is to also have a Linkedin page. Share the link to this on the resume. I am not requiring that you fill out the profile on this because it involves joining Linkedin in order to use it. This is a free service, though, and I feel it is a good resource.
If you decide to include a photograph, be sure it is professional looking. Dont use one taken at a party!
Having your own website shows good technological ability, and it allows you to showcase items that can give a fuller picture of your capabilities. You might include projects done for school, copies of glowing job reviews, or other items that will be relevant to a picture of you as an employee. Remember that this is designed to sell you, though. Dont include a lot of irrelevant material, and make sure to edit it well. You are selling your communication skills here. Share the link on the cover letter or resume, with a note that more of your work products can be seen there.
A portfolio of some of your best work can also provide helpful background. The disadvantage of this is that the employer wont see it until the interview stage since you would not send it in during the initial application unless its requested. Like the personal webpage, you will include relevant work samples. If you are using something from a former job, make sure that you are not using something that is proprietary or confidential.
Most employers today are going to research candidates whom they are seriously considering hiring through at least a quick Internet search. This means your Facebook page from 2015, for instance, might pop up during the search. Do what you can to leave a good image on the web. The easiest way is to avoid putting damaging things online in the first place.