You’ve probably heard plenty about the importance of resumés but may not have much experience in creating one. Yet now is the perfect time to craft your first resumé to create a strong representation of your accomplishments.
All good resumés, no matter where you are in life, share common traits. They should catch the eyes of college admissions specialists and potential employers alike and warrant serious consideration. Start by focusing on these important elements as you prepare your resumé for upcoming scholarships applications, job opportunities, and more:
1. Choose the right resumé format for the job
Resumés typically consist of three types: chronological, skills-based, and combined.
A chronological resumé lists past and present experiences in reverse chronological order. Present experience is listed first – using present tense verbs – while other items are listed in reverse order (using past tense verbs).
Skills-based resumés highlight sections specifically related to the job. Use section titles to highlight relevant experience and a description of jobs you’ve performed.
Combination resumés are common and may include skills-based headings with experiences listed in reverse chronological order. Combined resumés also take advantage of keys words that help an online resumé stand out in online search engines.
Which resumé type is right for you? A reverse chronological resumé is often best for students and entry-level job applicants, while combination resumés work for mid-level employees and executives. Skills-based resumés are particularly effective for executives and specialists but also when applying for a specific job.
2. Include key information
Pay special attention to the content of your resumé by including these key components:
An opening statement to summarize your resumé’s purpose
Key skills and strengths, specific to the job opportunity
What else? Again, you want to keep your resumé clean and uncluttered, but you may want to include a separate cover letter or statement of purpose that describes your intentions, goals, and more.
3. Make your resumé accessible
Ensure your reader is able to get the right information out of the document by saving your file as a PDF and proofreading for any grammatical errors and typos. In addition, follow these suggestion to keep it organized:
Maximize the use of white space
Think of white space as your friend. Leave ample blank space between sections and at least one-inch margins around the document to make your resumé easy to read and easy to scan.
Simplify font usage
So many fonts, so little time. But don’t think you must use every font at your disposal – instead, stick to one font or, at most, two. If you use two, make sure that they complement each other and said fonts appropriately correspond with the use of your resumé. Use bolding and italics sparingly, and avoid underlining items.
Use bullet points
Bullet points make it easier for college admissions personnel and employers to scan your resumé quickly. They’re especially useful when highlighting skills or accomplishments.
4. Keep the top organized
Experts say that the most important piece is the upper quarter of the resumé. Why? When people view your resumé on their computer, it’s likely that only the top half, at most, will fill their screen. Give your audience a good reason to scroll down and check out the rest of your resumé by keeping your resumé organized and choosing the best elements for the top. Make this section memorable by including your name, a core skills section, or perhaps the highlights for your most recent role.
5. Triple check your contact information
Make it easy for your audience to contact you by including your name, email address, home address, and a contact phone number. Make sure all information is spelled correctly and inquiries can be sent to the correct place – you want to be able to accept scholarships or job offers with this resumé, not discover that inquiries were sent to the wrong number!
6. List your educational background
All resumés should include educational history, but it’s not necessary to list every school you’ve ever attended. Instead, focus on the top degrees you’ve earned or are on track to earn. If you have space nearby, include bullet points that list your academic achievements, like awards you’ve received or the groups you’re a part of, such as “Dean’s List 2018” or “National Honor Society.”
7. What not to include
We’ve talked about the type of information and formatting you should use when creating a resumé, but there are also things you should leave out, including:
Private information – such as your gender, birthdate, ailments or disabilities, or a photo of yourself
Typos and factual errors – use spell-check and the eyes of a trusted friend to double check for any errors or incorrect information before submitting it
Distracting items – don’t use images or graphics or organize information in tables/charts
Learning the correct way to write and format a resumé is a skill that will last you a lifetime. Let your resumé accurately describe who you are, what you’ve accomplished, and what you hope lies ahead. You’ll want your resumé to grow and change with you, so begin creating the perfect resumé today!
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