A resume is an essential tool in a job search. This tool is used to market or sell yourself to an employer. It should only be a short summary, not the whole story of your work life. The following are general guidelines for writing a resume. This information may change geographically, and could vary according to individual circumstances and profession.

Resume format:

  • Length should not exceed two pages: if you have a second page, your name, contact information and “page 2” should be on the second page
  • Margins should be approximately one inch with plenty of white space to make it easy to read
  • Conservative, easy-to-read font styles (Arial, Tahoma, Times New Roman), 10 to 12 point; do not mix fonts
  • Black ink only
  • Layout easy to follow; information should be listed consistently and be easy to locate
  • Appearance neat and clean — no errors or corrections
  • Paper should be neutral in color, preferably white or off white – avoid paper with flecks or designs
  • Cover letter header and paper should match resume
  • Left-justified, with dates (month/year) on right

Resume content:

  • Include your LinkedIn link/address at the top of your resume along with your email and telephone number
  • Show responsibility vs. tasks and results which relate to needs of company to which you are applying
  • Give examples of your accomplishments and your ability to solve problems
  • Show statistics and numbers wherever possible
  • Be honest, positive and specific
  • Use category headings: summary, professional highlights, education, training, skills, professional associations and organizations, honors and awards
  • Objective statements are not necessary but if you use one it must be specific to the job, occupation and or industry to which you are applying – if your objective is vague, it does not add value — employers frown upon this as it looks like you didn’t take the time to target your resume to their position/opening
  • Don’t use a sentence format; instead, start each bullet with a strong action verb and a minimum number of words with lots of impact
  • Bulleted statements should not have periods at the end as most are not complete sentences and bullets should not be more than two lines each
  • Do not use words that end in “ion,” “ing”: instead use strong past tense verbs or nouns at the beginning of each statement—example: communicate rather than communication and supervise rather than supervision
  • Include volunteer experience, languages, internships, and certificates which relate to the position to which you are applying
  • “References provided upon request” does not need to be included at the bottom of your resume
  • Do not provide names of references on the resume — either attach a reference sheet or provide references upon request
  • Avoid jargon and abbreviations: use industry terminology when applying within the same industry and use layman’s language when changing careers
  • Do not give high school graduation date as it is an illegal question: employers can’t ask it so you shouldn’t give it
  • Do not give college graduation date if more than 20 years ago

General tips:

  • Write your own resume — start by writing down a list of everything you’ve done, your work record, education, and all your accomplishments—resume worksheets are available at the CareerCenter
  • Omit salary information: only provide it when requested
  • Include ONLY the last 10-15 years of work history
  • Employers typically skim a resume in 10-15 seconds—make it easy for the reader to find the relevant information that makes you an ideal candidate
  • Your voice mail should be professional as should the way you answer your phone when conducting a job search
  • Use a professional looking email address


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