We’re happy to answer your questions about how to create a great résumé. We also encourage you to schedule an appointment for a résumé review with one of our career counselors..
Most recent graduates should confine their résumés to one page. Those with extensive professional experience, especially in education, nursing, or social work, may need to use part of a second page. If your résumé goes to a second page, make sure your margins are not too wide (no more than 1″ left and right and as little as 1/2″ top and bottom). If the headings are on the left, stack the words (e.g. “Teaching” with “Experience” under it, rather than next to it). If your résumé runs over a little bit, don’t worry—your counselor will be able to help you reduce it to one page without losing anything important.
The headings on your résumé function like the headlines in the newspaper. They can focus the reader on where certain information is located, give a summary of content, and catch the reader’s interest. If you glance at a résumé with a section heading Honors and Awards, you will reasonably assume this candidate has received honors and awards and that may motivate you to read this résumé. Since almost every employer wants people with computer skills, some may scan a pile of résumés for those with Computer Skills in bold headline type.
The exact heading you choose is important and allows you to tailor your résumé, placing the most important experiences first. If you have worked in your field, name the field in your heading (e.g., Social Work Experience or Marketing Experience). Work in related fields can be headed Related Experience. If the work is not related to your objective but you want to include it, call it Other Experience or use the name of that field. Fieldwork, Volunteer Activities, Summer Employment, or Internships are other possible headings. If you include only some of your jobs, you can call it Selected Experience. Place the major categories so that the most relevant information is placed early on the résumé (top two-thirds of the first page).
Most recent graduates don’t need one. Include an objective only if it is very specific, unique, or necessary to clarify your job target. The objective is already clear with certifications (e.g., teachers) or majors (e.g., nursing). Some candidates may want to tailor the job objective for a specific job application. Be sure your objective addresses what you can do for the employer, not what the employer can do for you. Employers will not be impressed with “entry level,” and most will not care that you want a “challenging” position or one that “provides career growth.” They do care about additional skills or experience beyond the basic qualifications. Remember that your job target will be addressed very specifically in your cover letter. Candidates with several years of professional experience and skills related to the job may prefer to use a Summary or Profile in place of an objective.
Usually, most applicants for a particular job have the same degrees and similar work histories. The people who get the interviews are those who convey on their résumés that they have personally done many of the things that need to be done and have demonstrated the needed skills. Claiming that you have a skill is not as convincing as demonstrating how you have used the skill.
Use action verbs to describe your duties and accomplishments, depicting yourself as someone who gets the job done: one who “created… published… solved” – not one who merely “participated in” or was “responsible for.” Avoid using “assisted” – say what you did. Vary the vocabulary. For present jobs use present tense verbs and for past jobs use past tense.
ABSOLUTELY NOT! We believe that you should do your own résumé on a word processing program so that you can make frequent updates and tailor it to specific jobs. We do not advocate having anyone else do it for you and you should not waste your money on a “professional” résumé typing service. Avoid using résumé templates that are included with software – they limit the ways you can lay out your résumé. Using a standard word processing program will give you the greatest flexibility and usefulness.
Using a laser or printer of similar quality, print your résumé on 8.5″ x 11″ heavy (22-25lb) white, light gray or ivory paper with some cotton content. Order extra paper for cover letters and thank you letters.
An increasing number of employers are now scanning résumés into their databases so they can search for candidates with the right skills and experience. For résumés that may be scanned by computers, do not use hollow bullets, columns, italics, borders, shading or underlining. Use standard fonts, plain white paper and laser printers. Be sure to use key words related to the field. To maximize “hits” (matches of your résumé to job vacancies), the New York City Board of Education, which now scans all résumés, suggests you describe your experience in very concrete, rather than vague, terms; be concise; use more than one page if needed; use terms and acronyms specific to your field (but spell out acronyms too); be specific with software and programs.
Most job searches today will include applying for a job online.
You can prepare your résumé using a word processing program (e.g., Microsoft Word, WordPerfect or OpenOffice) as we have described above. You can then paste it into the body of an email which serves as a cover letter or you can send it as an attachment to the email. However, many people will not open unsolicited attachments for fear of viruses. Employers may also provide special instructions on their websites for sending your résumé in response to the posted opportunities.
Another method used by some organizations is an online application, which may be called a “résumé,” but bears little resemblance to the professional résumé we have described and will not substitute for a professional résumé for other uses. These are generally “read” by their computers to select candidates based on their key words, so their appearance is not important. You will probably have to re-enter all needed information each time you respond to one of these applications.
There are also résumé databases on the Internet where you can upload your word-processed résumé for employers to review. Employers will be able to view your résumé in the format that meets their needs and if they print it out, it will look attractive. The Center for Career and Professional Development will make this service available to you through Handshake.
Résumés will be reviewed by a counselor at the Center for Career and Professional Development by appointment, after you have typed your résumé according to the guidelines in Job Search Series resume guide.
A CV is a special type of résumé traditionally used within the academic community and sometimes in the medical and legal fields. It is useful not only for a job search, but also for tenure review, grant applications, fellowships or consulting. Academic hiring is frequently a long process done by a committee. Thus the CV may be reviewed by many individuals.
The CV need not be confined to one page, like the typical business résumé, nor does it have to be any longer than necessary to highlight your strengths and achievements. It generally includes degrees, teaching and research experience, publications, presentations and related activities. When applying for positions outside of academia, a résumé will represent you better than a CV. The details of your teaching and research will probably be of less interest to the reader. Converting your CV to a résumé will usually require major revisions.
Like your résumé, your CV is a work in progress. Instead of merely keeping it current, you should delete things that no longer relate to your objective, create new categories to show your achievements and reorganize sections to emphasize strengths related to the job you seek.
Center for Career and Professional Development
Nexus Building, Room 225
p – 516.877.3130