A guide to writing a resume that gets results.
Yes, YOU need a resume! Resumes are not just for graduating seniors. First-year students, sophomores and juniors need resumes to apply for part-time jobs, graduate school, scholarships and internships. If you start writing your resume early, it will be in great shape by the time you are ready to search for a full-time job.
In some ways, writing your resume is a never-ending process. Students and alumni should continue updating their resumes with each new activity, experience, job responsibility and career change. Even once you have created an up-to-date document, you may want to design a few different versions of your resume, each targeted to a specific interest area or career field.
To get started on your resume, you may:
Think about what you want to do. Your liberal arts degree allows you to pursue many different career paths and you might be applying for jobs or internships in a variety of fields. It is OK to have many different interests, but you will want to create a different resume for each type of position. If you are unsure of your career goals, your resume may be more general, but you should always try to design this document with a specific type of job or internship in mind. A resume should not describe your life history, but rather focus on your qualifications, accomplishments and related experience.
The heading of your resume should include your name, current address, permanent address, phone number and e-mail. Be certain that your e-mail address is professional and one which you check regularly. Seniors, you may wish to avoid using your Rollins e-mail address, as it is likely to expire after graduation. Remember, an employer may call at any time, so be sure to list a phone number where you can be reached and update your voicemail to include an appropriate message.
You might find it useful to write an objective because it will help you develop a focused and targeted resume. An objective can help determine what content is included in the rest of your resume. Be sure that the objective addresses the specific career field to which you are applying. An objective is short and targeted. It should mention briefly what you have to offer the employer, not what you want the employer to do for you. If you are unable to write a specific, targeted objective, you may wish to forego the objective entirely.
The education section will likely come next on your resume, just below your objective. Items included in the education section are your institution's name, city and state of the school, your degree, your major(s), minor(s) and month/year of graduation. Study abroad experiences and scholarships can be listed in this section, as well as GPA, if it is 3.0 or higher. First-year and sophomore students may want to include high school on their resume, but upper level students and alumni should not list education prior to college. Somtimes, you may wish to list relevant college coursework and certifications in the education section.
This section is extremely important to employers! Experience may include part-time jobs, internships, student teaching, work study employment, full-time positions or certain types of long-term volunteer work. For each position, be sure to include 1) the name of the organization, 2) your title, 3) location of the company and 4) your dates of employment. In addition, a good resume will describe specific responsibilities and tasks you accomplished with each experience.
When listing your experience, you will want to start with your most recent or current position and work backwards. If you have meaningful, relevant experience in the past, but not have an unrelated, part-time job, you might divide this area into two separate sections: "Relevant Experience" and "Work Experience." This will allow you to put your most relevant experience at the top of your resume (under "Relevant Experience") and the less relevant information lower on the page (under "Work Experience").
The bullet points you list underneath each work experience are very important. These bullet points should briefly describe your duties at the position and your accomplishments. Each bulleted statement should only be one or two lines long and be as specific as possible. Underneath each work experience, start your bulleted list with the most relevant information first and then continue to the more common responsibilities.
A good resume includes a variety of strong "action verbs" that help explain your role in the organization. Each bullet point should start with an action verb that demonstrates what you did as an employee. You can find a list of suggested action verbs on the Samples page of this Web site that will help you get started. Do not use words such as "I" or "me" on your resume and avoid making personal evaluations such as "learned a great deal through this experience," or "developed strong leadership skills." State what you DID using a variety of action verbs and let employers make judgments themselves.
After listing your work experiences you can describe your additional activities. This section is important for most college students and recent graduates because you may have limited work experience thus far. This category can include your roles in campus organizations, community service projects, sports or club affiliations and any other information that might help you demonstrate your qualifications to an employer.
When listing activities, be sure to include 1) the name of the organization, 2) your title or position if applicable, 3) location of the organization and 4) your dates of affiliation. For some positions, you may wish to have bullet points describing responsibilities of the position or accomplishments you achieved while in office.
Sometimes, this section of the resume can get over-crowded so it is important to think seriously about what information the employer really wants and needs to know. Remember to list experiences in reverse chronological order so that your most recent activities are first, similar to the format of your experience section. You may need to remove certain older, less relevant activities from your resume if the list of involvement becomes too long.
Technology plays an important role in most career fields today, so it is strongly recommended that you include your computer skills on your resume. You may also list specific skills relevant to your job or internship interests, such as foreign languages or research.
It is not necessary to include references on your resume. Yes, you should have a references sheet available, but the "references available upon request" line should not take up valuable space on your resume. A separate page with 3-5 references should be provided only at the request of an employer.
Your references page should have the same heading information, font size and style as your resume. Underneath the heading, you will list the name and contact information, including title, place of employment, business address, phone and e-mail of your references. Don't forget to ask each reference whether he or she is willing and able to speak on your behalf and be sure to provide him/her with a copy of your updated resume.
Spelling and grammatical mistakes on your resume are unprofessional and can seriously harm your chances for employment. After you have created a draft of your resume, take plenty of time to edit it, add bullet points, clarify responsibilities, delete material as needed and polish, polish, polish!