Creating your résumé is the first step to getting a job. Learn exactly what goes into this important document and start your career search off on the right foot by creating your own résumé.
Your résumé is a summary of your experiences in work and in school. Employers match your résumé against their job openings to evaluate if you’d be a good fit. As such, it’s important to make your résumé a good representation of yourself. It’s your first impression on a future employer, and if done properly, will help you get a foot in the door. Here’s how, step by step:
There are three different types of résumés: chronological, functional and combination. Chronological is the most traditional format and lists experiences according to the order in which they took place. Functional is a type of résumé that lists your experiences according to skill. Combination, as the name suggests, is a combination of the chronological and functional formats.
Here are some résumé critique sites that can further help you determine the right style:
A header should include your name, address with ZIP Code, phone number and email address.
In one or two sentences, state the job you’re attempting to secure in the organization you’re aiming to become part of. Make this statement simple. Consider the type of work you enjoy and are looking for.
To obtain an entry-level editing position in a large publishing company
To secure a full-time executive sales position in the advertising industry
To obtain a professional position within medical sales
For Chronological/Combination Résumés List Your Experiences
Starting with your most recent or current job, list your previous work experiences.
Southwestern Writing Center, Peer Writing Tutor, Yuma, AZ
April 2004 – Present
- Tutored students in writing for all disciplines.
- Critiqued peers’ writing.
Camp Granite Falls, Area Director, Mountainville, TN
June 2003 – September 2007
- Directed staff of four while supervising 20 campers.
- Taught crafts, sports and cooking.
For Functional/Combination Résumés List Your Skills
The “Skills” section of your résumé is a place where you can show your strengths and individuality. Start by stating each skill. Then back it up with a two- to three-line explanation of how you learned that skill or why you believe you have it. Make these entries short, clear and to the point.
Self-Motivated: Proactively organized volunteers to assist with distribution at the community food bank.
Bookkeeping: Maintained accurate, detailed inventory reports at school library and subsequently won top librarian assistant award three months straight for Brown County.
List activities in which you have participated and include what your specific role was in each.
Track Team: Team Captain, Senior Year. Fall 2006 – Spring 2007.
Drama Club: “Crazy for You” and “West Side Story.” Fall 2007 and 2008.
Oldham County High School, Oldham, PA. 3.8 GPA. Anticipated graduation: June 2010.
Bellville Adult Education, Bellville, NY. Introduction to Web Design. September 2008.
Richmond County National Essay Contest, Honorable Mention, May 2006.
Honor Roll, South Satchewan High School, Junior and Senior Years, 2008-2010.
Ceramics, camping, reading, soccer, automotive repair, carpentry
Just as the Internet has changed the way you look for a job, it’s also changed the way you can submit a résumé. More and more job applicants are posting their résumés online to résumé banks and personal web pages and submitting them through email. And while the Internet can be a powerful tool for job seekers, it also comes with some new considerations.
When emailing a résumé, you have two options: Insert the résumé into the body of the email, or send it as an attachment. Review the job listing carefully to see if there is a preferred method. Document formatting is also crucial. Plain text (.txt) files are always a safe bet, but Microsoft Word documents (.doc) and the Adobe Acrobat Portable Document Format (.pdf) are often accepted and allow you greater control over layout and design. Again, double-check to see if the organization you’re applying to has a preference.
No matter how you choose to email your résumé, you’ll want to include a brief online cover letter in the body of the email. Keep it short, but include the same basic information you would in a traditional cover letter.
When submitting your résumé to an online résumé bank, formatting is once again your first concern. While some sites accept Microsoft Word documents, many will not recognize specialized text, bullets, tabs, boldface text or formatted text. Any résumé with that kind of formatting runs the risk of showing up on an interviewer’s computer screen as gibberish; this is not the way you want to be perceived. Avoid formatting issues by creating a plain text version. If you want to emphasize something, instead of using a bold font, use capital letters. And when you’re finished, email it to yourself or a friend. This will give you an opportunity to make sure it looks okay on the receiving end.
Another consideration when submitting your résumé online is using job-specific keywords. Employers often search résumé banks using software that looks for special words or requirements specific to a job description. You can identify such keywords by visiting company websites, reviewing job postings, reading industry trade magazines or checking out keyword resource books and websites. Including more keywords in the objective, experience, skills and awards sections of your online résumé will increase your chances of being flagged as a potential match. You should also use such keywords in the title and brief description of yourself which most job sites request.
Keywords tend to be nouns that are industry-specific qualifications, skills or terms. Some keyword examples include degrees or certifications, job titles, computer lingo, industry jargon, product names, company names and professional organizations. Here are some specific examples of popular keywords employers look for in résumés. Using such keywords and additional keywords specific to your industry where they apply will help your résumé stand out.
And, lastly, if you’re posting your résumé to a personal web page or résumé bank, be sure to conceal your contact information from casual viewers. Posting personal contact information on the web could attract unwanted attention. Avoid this by activating the privacy settings offered on most résumé banks or by only providing an email address on your web page and suggesting employers contact you for additional information.
Video résumés are gaining popularity with many young job seekers. While few, if any, companies request them, they can be a great way to showcase your skills and experience while giving a real sense of your personality. Video résumés are not for everyone, however. If you’re applying for a job in a very traditional or conservative field, you might want to think twice about using a video résumé. In any case, keep your video short and professional and focus on your accomplishments. This is still a résumé, not a music video!
Some sites that offer video résumés:
If you want to have printed copies on hand for an interview, or if an organization requires you to submit your résumé by mail, start with a well-formatted document and make sure it has been proofread. Use high-quality paper rather than regular copy paper; it will make a much better impression. Make sure your printer has fresh ink and then print a test run to check for any errors or inconsistencies. You should always bring extra copies with you to an interview. And – for interviews – make sure it’s the same version that you submitted previously. Also, if you’re mailing your résumé, use an envelope that matches your paper in size and quality and print the address on it.
While you don’t submit references with your cover letter and résumé, often job applicants are asked to provide them later if they are being seriously considered. It’s important for you to establish your reference list in advance and have a list ready when the request comes in.
Karen Smith Human Resources ABC Company Address City, State, ZIP Phone Email
George Brown Manager XYZ Company Address City, State, ZIP Phone Email