Convincing employers you can do the job

The resume is your primary marketing tool.  Its purpose is to get you in the door.  There are many right ways to write a resume.  It is not an exact science with a universal formula.  Streamline your resume to show employers how you can meet their specific needs.


Gather Information

Make a list of your previous jobs

  • Your title or position
  • Name of organization
  • Your responsibilities, skills used, and achievements (quantify/qualify when appropriate)

Collect your paperwork

  • College Transcripts/Diploma
  • Certificates/Endorsements
  • References (including names, phone numbers, and email addresses)
  • Workshops you’ve attended and presentations you’ve made

Identify Your Target

Write your resume targeted toward a particular job or type of job 

A specific job description will provide the framework.  Create a resume that clearly focuses your skills towards the type of work you are seeking, keeping in mind that you may need to revise it when you see an actual job description.

Information to include

  • Your Name, Phone Number, and Email Address
  • Highlights of Qualifications (your skills/knowledge relevant to the position)
  • Education and GPA (usually GPAs 3.5 and above)
  • Relevant Coursework (coursework related to the job you are seeking)
  • Related Experience
  • Additional Experience
  • Honors and Awards
  • Languages
  • Publications and Research
  • Military Experience
  • Professional Development (professional memberships, conferences, etc.)
  • Activities/Organizations (volunteer, service learning, team membership)

Essential Elements

Focused and Clear

Wordy resumes are red flags to employers.  A clear, crisp resume will make it easy to see who you are and what skills you possess. Use skill-based keywords in the job description to describe your skills.


Proofread, proofread, proofread!  Errors in grammar, spelling, dates, phone numbers, addresses, and content reflect poorly on you and can quickly eliminate you from the pool of applicants.

Professional and Visually Appealing

The first impression of your resume is important.  Your resume needs to be neat and easy to read.   

Up-to-Date Contact Information

If it is unclear how to contact you or if the employer is unable to contact your references, your resume goes into the trash.  End of statement.

Dos and Don’ts


  • Have someone read your resume and give you feedback
  • Give a copy of your resume to each of your references
  • Take copies of your resume to your interview
  • Change keywords/phrases to fit the job description
  • Emphasize your positive points; omit any negatives
  • Leave plenty of white space; keep it brief and to-the-point


  • Include personal information (marital status, age, religious and political affiliations, pictures, etc.)
  • Be wordy
  • Include anything that’s not true (shine the best light on yourself, but don’t lie)
  • Refer to high school achievements if you’ve finished college unless very impressive or related to the job you are seeking
  • Cram too much information on one page

Formatting and Trends

  • Use a professional font that is easy to read, such as Times New Roman, Arial, or Calibri
  • Using larger font sizes for your name and section headings can help the reader identify sections
  • Using horizontal lines and shading to separate sections can make a resume more readable
  • Proper and consistent font size and line spacing are crucial to creating a professional-looking resume that is easy to read
  • Dynamic phrases are the language of resumes, not sentences, and therefore do not require periods at the end. However, if you choose to use periods, be consistent
  • Action verb tenses should begin each dynamic phrase used to describe your work experiences
  • Size page margins consistently and appropriately (.5 to 1.0 inch)
  • The rule of a one-page resume is no longer absolute. Many employers are indicating that they would rather have a complete picture of the applicant’s skills than try to read between the lines

Resumes and Online Applications

When submitting your resume by email, attach your resume as a PDF.  This will ensure that formatting will not be changed when the reader opens the file on their computer.

When applying for jobs online, you may submit your application through an applicant tracking system (ATS). With an ATS, your resume is scanned by a computer that looks for relevant skill keywords found in the job description.

Tips for creating an ATS friendly resume

  • Follow the application instructions. If you have questions about the instructions or about how to submit your application correctly, contact the employer (unless they say not to)
  • Include specific key words and phrases from the job description in describing your skills, experiences, and abilities
  • ALWAYS proofread and spellcheck your documents to make sure they are error free
  • Spell out dates and locations (e.g., May 2019 instead of 5/19)
  • NEVER use pictures or graphics on your resume
  • Do not create your resume using a template from software. Create your resume from a blank word processing document

Resume Types

Resume examples included in this guide are not intended to be a template, but rather to demonstrate elements and ideas for targeting and focusing information.  See a Career Counselor at Career Services for assistance on choosing the right style for you and providing examples from current resources.

Reverse Chronological

The traditional, default format for resumes is the reverse chronological resume.  This type of resume is organized by your relevant employment/experiences in reverse chronological order (current/most recent first).  The reverse chronological resume is preferred by the widest variety of employers, as well as by recruiters and many internet job posting sites.  Recruiters and hiring managers tend to like this resume format because it is easy to read and clearly demonstrates your job history and career advancement.


The combination resume highlights outstanding skills and achievements that might otherwise be buried within the work experience section, while simultaneously presenting, yet de-emphasizing, the chronology of jobs.  The focus is on clusters of transferable skills and the experiences that are most relevant to the position for which you are applying.  If you are open to more than one type of job, you can reconfigure the functional skill clusters to emphasize the skills most relevant to the specific job/job description.

Combination resumes suit a variety of job-seeker needs, such as having a diverse job history that doesn't add up to a clear-cut career path and situations where the job-seeker has work experience that is related, but not an exact link to the desired position.  Job seekers who have large employment gaps or many short employment stints prefer this format because it downplays employment history.  This type of resume also works well for older workers, career changers, and job seekers with academic deficiencies or limited experience.


Transferable Skills

Key Transferable Skills

  • Meet Deadlines
  • Ability to delegate
  • Ability to plan
  • Results oriented
  • Customer service-oriented
  • Supervise others
  • Increase sales or efficiency
  • Accept responsibility
  • Instruct others
  • Desire to learn and improve
  • Good time management
  • Solve problems
  • Manage money/budgets
  • Manage people
  • Meet the public
  • Organize people
  • Organize/manage projects
  • Team player
  • Written communications
  • Work independently
  • Computer skills

Dealing with Things

  • Hand/eye coordination
  • Assemble or make things
  • Safety conscious
  • Build, observe, inspect
  • Construct or repair
  • Follow instructions
  • Operate tools and machinery
  • Drive or operate vehicles
  • Repair things
  • Use complex equipment
  • Operate computers

Dealing with Data

  • Analyze data or facts
  • Investigate
  • Audit records
  • Keep financial records
  • Locate information
  • Balance money
  • Calculate/compute
  • Manage money
  • Classify Data
  • Compare, inspect, record facts
  • Count, observe, compile
  • Research
  • Detail-oriented
  • Take inventory

Working with People

  • Patient
  • Care for
  • Persuasive
  • Confront others
  • Pleasant
  • Counsel people
  • Sensitive
  • Demonstrate something
  • Supportive
  • Diplomatic
  • Supervise
  • Speak in public
  • Help others
  • Tactful
  • Insightful
  • Compassionate
  • Teach
  • Interview others
  • Anticipate needs
  • High energy
  • Open-minded
  • Kind
  • Follow directions
  • Listen
  • Serving
  • Trust
  • Working with others
  • Negotiate
  • Understand
  • Adaptable

Using Words/Ideas

  • Articulate
  • Innovate
  • Communicate verbally
  • Logical
  • Remember information
  • Accurate
  • Research
  • Create new ideas
  • Design
  • Speak in public
  • Edit
  • Write clearly
  • Prefer details
  • Understanding the big picture


  • Coordinate social functions
  • Motivate others
  • Negotiate agreements
  • Decisive
  • Plan
  • Delegate
  • Run meetings
  • Direct others
  • Explain things to others
  • Self-motivated
  • Get results
  • Share leadership
  • Think of others
  • Direct projects
  • Team builder
  • Solve problems
  • Mediate problems
  • Take risks
  • Empowering others


  • Perform/Act
  • Draw/Sketch/Render
  • Present artistic ideas
  • Expressive

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