A resume is a tailored document highlighting a person's education, work experience, and skills. It is often the first line of contact and creates a first impression of your hiring value. To be effective, your resume package must include a cover letter and should do the following:
- Capture the reader's attention in the first few seconds
- Establish credibility – a reason for the reader to believe you can do what you say
- Inspire the reader to want to know more and hopefully, score you an interview
- Avoid resume templates. The automatic formatting on templates will limit your ability to update. Instead, choose a format that you like and copy it.
- One page. In most cases, your resume should not exceed one page in length. Exceptions are if you are applying for a teaching position, formatting a federal resume, have a Master's degree, or have at least 10 years of full-time experience.
- Format, Format, Format. Only use one font type and size. Font size should be 10-12 point and easy to read. Margins should be between .5 in and 1 in. Make things stand out by using bold, italics, all caps or small caps, and underlining. Print your final version on quality white or ivory paper.
- Keep it short. Avoid overly long paragraphs. Write concisely. List key points in short bullet-point statements.
- Don't undersell yourself! All of the experiences you've had are important. These include part-time jobs, student organizations, leadership experience, relevant class projects, and more!
- Make it your own. There is no exact formula for the perfect resume - include sections that highlight your individual experience. Put the most relevant and recent information first.
- Chronological - most commonly used style. In chronological resumes, items are arranged in reverse chronological order (most recent things listed first) within the work experience category. If you have multiple types of work experience, you can break them up into different sections (e.g. relevant experience, volunteer experience, internship experience). A chronological format is usually recommended for college students and recent graduates.
- Functional - stresses skills and abilities regardless of where and when they were developed or demonstrated. A resume in this format is not arranged chronologically.
- Combination - uses characteristics of both of these styles to highlight relevant experience.
- Personal/Contact Information: Name, mailing address, phone number, and email addresses
- Email: You want to present a professional image. Email addresses such as BrewDawg@email.com or firstname.lastname@example.org may have personal meaning to you, but to employers, they represent someone who lacks professionalism.
- Phone: The phone number is another chance to present a professional image. Typically, employers will try to reach you at home. Make sure that the greeting is professional and business-like. If you have roommates, make sure that you have a system for getting your messages.
- Address: If you only have one address, there is no need for both the "present" and "permanent" to be listed.
- Other: Do NOT include information such as marriage status, gender, etc.
- Objective Statement and/or Skills Summary: a section at the top of your resume that identifies what you're looking for and highlights your most important qualifications. An objective statement is most effective if it provides clarification for the reader. For example, if you have a broad major (such as sociology or management), you are seeking an internship, or you are seeking a position that is not closely related to your major, you may consider using an objective. A good objective statement answers the following:
- What type of positions you are seeking (internship or entry-level).
- What type of company/industry/job you are seeking (human resources, operational management, sales).
- What qualities you bring to the job (your strengths).
- Education: Details of education and training you have completed or are in the process of completing:
- Make sure you know the official name of your degree! If you are uncertain, check with your Academic Advisor.
- Know your following GPAs: Cumulative - classes taken at Dalton State. Overall—all classes taken anywhere. Major—Major related coursework only (Area F courses in your Dalton State catalog).
- Include GPA if it is over 3.0.
Work Experience: Provide details of your employment experience, including co-ops, internships, leadership positions, part-time, temporary, and full-time work.
- Start all sentences with strong action verbs (link here).
- Use numbers, percentages, and amounts of money to describe job duties. Go beyond the job description — what made you stand out?
- Include experiences that line up with the skills and abilities desired in the job description.
- Additional Categories: Specific pieces of information you would like to include that do not fit neatly into the above mentioned categories. Examples include:
- Short-Term Training/Certifications
- Affiliations/Memberships/Organizations/Professional Associations
- Community Involvement/Community Service
- Computer Capabilities/Computer Skills/Technical Expertise/Technical Proficiency
- Volunteer Experience
Carefully choose job references that compliment your resume. A good reference should be someone who confirms the details of your resume and offers positive feedback regarding your work or educational skills and experience. Ideally, they should have known you for at least one year — preferably three.
Ideally, you should have at least 3-5 references. Personal references (e.g. – friends, family, or classmates) are unacceptable. Acceptable references can be a combination of any of the following:
- Former and/or current supervisors
- Colleagues and/or subordinates
- Former customers/clients
- Former professors
- Contacts from volunteer work or student organizations
References should not be included in your actual resume. Include them as a separate sheet. Do not submit references to employers unless they have been requested.
- One page in length
- Tailored to the position for which you are applying
- Neat, well-organized, and easy to read
- Consistent in formatting, font, and content (NOT a Microsoft Word Template)
- Checked for proper grammar and punctuation
- Appealing to the eye
- Printed on good-quality, neutral-colored paper
- Uses strong action verbs and power words
- Free of spelling errors
- Updated and current
- Avoids high school information (once you begin college)
- Avoids "Duties included…" and "Responsible for…"
- Uses numbers, such as percentages or amounts of money
- Has been proofread by at least 3 people
- Avoids personal pronouns like "I" or "my"