Chadron State College
Chadron State College

Resume Topical Headings and Content

The Identification Section

This is the first section on the resume regardless of any other priority. It identifies the name of the writer and how to contact the person. Always include ZIP codes and area codes. In this high tech age, many candidates also include cell phone numbers, e-mail, and home web page addresses.

The Career Objective Section

Many resume guides suggest including a Career Objective section. This section is optional. If included, this statement must cover a particular career area or specific career position. If too general, it may imply that the candidate is shopping around or has not established a well-defined career goal. The required cover letter, or letter of introduction, also relates your career objective. Whether the objective statement appears on the resume or in the cover letter, the remainder of the resume must support the career objective. If it does not, the resume becomes ineffective. Never give an employer a resume with a career objective statement that doesn't relate to the position the employer is attempting to fill.

Some examples follow:

  • Production Management - To begin my career in a production phase of a manufacturing firm with the eventual goal of moving into plant management. Initial assignment may be in scheduling, first-line supervision or quality control.
  • Public Relations - Seek an entry level position with a publishing firm or major manufacturing organization. Would consider assignments in photography, journalism, layout, design, editing, or web design.
  • Social Work - Seek a position with a social service agency as a family practice counselor.

The Abilities and Skills Section

Targeted resumes usually contain an Abilities and Skills section. Research the target field thoroughly to identify needed skills and abilities. This section (sometimes called Capabilities) must highlight the candidate's background as it directly relates to the job target. This and the Summary of Qualifications or Accomplishments section constitute the body and main thrust of the Targeted resume. Each short statement must start with a descriptive action verb in present tense. Seven to 10 statements are common. For example:

  • Edit corporate policy and procedures manuals. * Create advertising campaign philosophy for major product lines. * Buy media time on national and local radio and TV channels. * Design copy for corporate sales brochures. * Provide guidance and feedback to artists. * Anticipate market trends and product life expectancy. * Plan effective use of creative personnel to meet overall office goals.

The Accomplishments Section

This section may also be called Summary of Qualifications, Innovations, or Achievements section. It highlights the candidate's skills as they relate to the desired position. Use action verb phrases in simple past tense. Five to seven statements are typical. For example:

  • Supervised staff of seven journalists, commercial artists and editors and managed departmental budget of $1,500,000. * Successfully bid on three $500,000 advertising accounts. * Established firm's reputation by winning Gute awards in three consecutive years. * Planned and directed campaign for nationally advertised consumer hair-care product. * Conducted Story-Board Seminar for regional professional association. * Managed community program for ADII of Louisville.

The Job Functions Section

The main body of the Functional resume contains three or four short paragraphs of two or three sentences each to highlight specific skill areas closely related to the candidate's career objective. Each paragraph begins by noting a specific function or skill, which is then described. Specific examples of accomplishments are highlighted. Examples should come from a variety of jobs and activities and should not identify which employment situation produced the activity. For example:

  • Troubleshooting: Answered telephone inquiries at a major appliance manufacturer's service facility. Researched customers' problem, determined malfunctions and suggested possible alternative actions and their probable costs. Serviced approximately 50 customers per day.
  • Editing: Reviewed articles written in major periodicals and prepared synopsis of the content to be made available to subscribers of national data base. Consistently awarded for excellence in copy content, brevity, and clarity.
  • Creativity: Organized and managed small advertising group that revamped company image and established positive reputation for product line.

The Educational Background Section

This is a major section in the Chronological Resume and will appear toward the top of the resume if the educational program has a direct bearing on employability and has been recently completed or will shortly be completed. If, on the other hand, the employment history is of greater importance to the prospective employer, skip this section for now and prepare the section on Employment. Return to this section upon completion of that section. For a Targeted or Functional resume, the Education and Work History sections are to be brief outlines of your activities and their dates. These parts of the resume are used as minor supports for the main body.

The Education section will vary based on the level of education attained. List this information in reverse chronological order (most recent education first) regardless of which type of resume you select. Also, the most important information within each section should be listed first.

List degree earned first. State institution attended and include information such as location (use complete mailing address if you need to fill up space), major field of study or concentration area, minors, dates of attendance or graduation date (use month and year), grade point average if it enhances employability, academic honors. Do not include information on educational experiences prior to college.

Use spacing, bolding, underlining, centering and indentations to emphasize important words and titles. Make similar words and phrases look alike. If you bold one school name, bold all school names; if you underline one major, underline all majors, etc.

The Employment History Section

This section is also written in reverse chronological order. Begin with the current or most recently held position and work backward. Normally, positions held while in high school are not included unless they are unusually relevant to the new position. For the Functional and Targeted resume styles, an Employment History section giving only employers' names and dates of employment is often included later in the resume.

When preparing the entries for the Reverse Chronological style, remember to list the most important information first. This means that either the position title or the name of the employer will lead off each entry. It is also typical to include the employer's address, dates of employment and a description of responsibilities, emphasizing those aspects that relate to the prospective career.

Bold, CAPS, underline or indent items of importance. Skip spaces to separate title words and phrases from copy. Consider using bullets (thick dots) to bring attention to special data.

Always use action verbs. For current positions, use present tense verbs. For former positions, use past tense verbs. Avoid the phrase "responsible for..." or "responsibilities included...". Express measurable results of the work. In other words, quantify information when possible. Instead of "Managed office staff," say "Managed office staff of 11 professionals." A subheading titled "Innovations" or "Accomplishments" may be included to highlight how the position has grown during your tenure. Again, use past tense action verbs for these phrases.

Don't forget part-time or summer jobs, internships, cooperative education and military experiences. These are all valuable work experiences.

Other Informational Section(s)

These areas are optional for all resume styles. There often is information which has a bearing on one's employability but which doesn't fit conveniently into any of the above sections. You may create additional sections which contain information such as memberships in professional associations, special skills, computer software and hardware, college activities, key words and foreign language skills. If the information positively impacts the hiring decision, include it.

The References Section

References are often required during the employment search. In the past, it was common to list all references on the resume. Today, because space is valuable, you may wish to simply state:

This will provide additional space for more important information. A Reference Page should now be created that can be available when requested. It must contain your name, address, and telephone information as a part of the heading. The balance of the sheet will consist of the name, title, mailing address, and telephone number for three or four academic and/or business references. Do not use relatives, personal friends, or students as references. Be sure to obtain permission from each person you plan to use. Check the accuracy of the contact information with each reference. Be sure to select references who are knowledgeable, articulate, and who can speak and write clearly. They will be representing you to the prospective employer. And finally, be certain to provide each of your references with a copy of your resume so they have accurate information to pass along to the employer.

Information used with permission from Indiana University-Southeast.