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Resume Writing Guidelines

Your resume should reflect your own words, personal touch and unique personality. It often creates the employer's first impression of you.

Employers seek talented candidates who are creative, free thinkers. Keep in mind that a “fill-in-the-blank” resume undercuts the very image you are attempting to create. Suggestion: don't use a Resume Wizard to create your resume.

Based on your resume and cover letter, the employer may select candidates to interview for the job. Therefore, your credentials must be an informative, well-organized, concise description of your qualifications for the given position. Be certain to write with enthusiasm and excitement. PROOFREAD your work and remember that it usually takes three or four drafts to create a good document.

Remember, the resume is designed to get you the interview, not the job! It cannot and should not be a substitute for the interview.

The resume is NEVER more than two pages; one is preferred. Fill each page. Advertise/market your skills, talents, abilities and experience. Always place the most important information first. Research has shown that your resume will receive only 15 to 60 seconds of reading the first time it is seen.

A resume must...

  • keep the reader's interest
  • contain action verbs, not state-of-being verbs
  • be exciting and moving
  • contain phrases, not sentences
  • be consistent in content and indentation
  • be given to each of your references so they have accurate, up-to-date information.

Eye appeal is vital; therefore, do not crowd your information. Leave enough white space on the page so that the resume is easily read. For emphasis, use numbers when possible to express dollars, people, savings, miles - anything quantifiable. To be journalistically accurate, numbers nine and less should be spelled out while 10 and greater should be expressed in numerals.

Finally, follow these important resume rules:

  • Don't state past salary or wages. The same is true of height, weight, marital status and other personal information.
  • Don't give reasons for leaving past employment.
  • Don't use abbreviations for any information that could possibly be misinterpreted or misunderstood.
  • Don't use slang words or phrases.
  • Don't send a resume with typographical errors.
  • Don't send a resume without an accompanying cover letter.

Put the most important topic headings first and organize by importance all material within each heading. There are three styles of resumes: Reverse Chronological, Targeted and Functional. Each uses different combinations of Topic Headings in a variety of orders. For ease of organization, these sections have been given alphabetical designations A through I. These sections are explained later in this document. Each style is defined below with an indication of the sections which are typically included.

Information used by permission from Indiana University-Southeast.

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