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Resume Writing

The two most common resume styles are the chronological and combined format resume (also called a skills based resume). Both have their advantages and disadvantages, so be sure to pick the style that will be most effective for you.

Chronological Resume

In a chronological resume, work experience is arranged in order by dates of the jobs you have held in reverse chronological order (most recent first).

  • Places emphasis on job titles and employment history.
  • Highlights a steady employment history.
  • Most common format and easiest to prepare.
  • Exposes job hunting/spotty work history.
  • Emphasizes work areas you may prefer to minimize.
  • May be repetitious (boring) if jobs were similar.

Combined Format Resume

Work Experience is described by emphasizing the skills involved. Descriptive details are grouped under relevant headings of expertise.

  • Focuses on selected areas of accomplishment and experience.
  • Camouflages a spotty employment record.
  • Stresses areas of experience and interest in which you might not have held a steady job.
  • Allows you to down play areas you wish to.
  • Immediately highlights strengths and why you should be considered for an interview.
  • Doesn’t highlight employers or dates, but doesn’t omit them either.
  • Takes more time to develop and must be very clear of career goal.
  • Some employers will not be as familiar with this style.

The Parts of a Combined Format Resume

  • Contact Information
  • Highlights of Qualification
  • Skill Sets
  • Education
  • Work History
  • Interests
  • References
A resume may also include:
  • Job Objective
  • Work Experience
  • Additional Training
  • Extra-Curricular Activities (if tranferable to work-related skills)
  • or other topics depending upon your history

Polishing The Resume

Look Sharp
  • Organize–make sure the layout is easy to follow and looks professional.
  • Use a Word Processor–typed or handwritten resumes don’t cut it anymore.
  • Keep it Brief–any longer than 2 pages is too long, references can go on a third page.
  • Include all Relevant Information–assume nothing! Explain what you’ve done and how you’ve done it.
  • Stand out, but don’t be Glitzy–understated may be best – try good quality paper (be cautious of wild paper or other gimmicks).
  • Frame It–use white space to its advantage.
  • Proofread–one error could mean you end up in the garbage. (Believe it!) A computer spell check will not check the grammar, or catch errors like “from” spelled “form”.
Write it!
  • Action–strong verbs that describe your actions and accomplishments are best.
  • Edit–if it’s not adding to your resume then get rid of it.
  • Be concise–clear and to the point.
  • Best Foot Forward–catch attention by putting whatever you think an employer will be most interested in first.
  • Use a Current Format–modern resumes do NOT include birth date, marital status, height, weight, SIN…
  • Target–write a resume geared toward the specific job you want. Highlight areas you know the employer is interested in.

Remember, employers don’t hire resumes; they hire people who perform well in interviews. In order to get to that all-important interview, the resume is the key. Take the time to prepare a document to be proud of.

Do’s and Don’ts of Resume Writing

  • Don’t freak out if you have no relevant experience.  List your transferable skills, related side projects, and relevant coursework.
  • Don’t include anything confidential.  If you wouldn’t want it published next to your name on the front page of the major national newspaper, take it out.
  • Don’t include obvious skills.  Because everyone assumes you know how to use Microsoft Word, and the internet.  Use your valuable resume space to highlight skills that actually make you stand out.
  • Do consider volunteer and other non-work experience.  If volunteer work has taken up a significant chunk of your time or taught you skills applicable to the job you’re applying for, think about putting it on your resume.  Side projects, pro bono work, or temp gigs can also be a unique way to up your resume game and show off other skills.
  • Do include personal accomplishments.  If you’ve done something cool in your personal life that either shows off your skills, you should definitely include it.  Maybe you’ve run a few marathons, demonstrating your adventurous spirit, strong work ethic, and desire to challenge yourself.  Or you’ve won some poker tournaments, which shows you’re a quick thinker and good with numbers.
  • Don’t include random, unrelated, or off-putting hobbies.  Hiring managers probably don’t care if you love basketball, active in your book club, or play Pokemon Go.  Eliminate anything that’s not totally transferable to work-related skills.
  • Do show how you moved up (or around) at past companies.  It can be tempting and easier to combine multiple roles at one company, but you should actually be highlighting different job titles.  After all, it says a lot about you if you were promoted within an organization or  were able to transition your role.
  • Don’t use an objective statement.  Unless you are making a HUGE career change.
  • Don’t try to hide gaps.  While it`s okay to glaze over gaps a little (for example, by just using years to show dates of employments instead of months and years), you should never outright lie about them.  Whatever you did while you weren’t, it’s almost certain you picked up some skills that would help you in the job for which you’re applying for!
  • Don’t include “References Available Upon Request.”  It takes up room you could otherwise use for experience and skills, and looks presumptuous.
  • Do start from a template.  Like the one located at the bottom of the page.
  • Do make sure your job titles or companies stand out.  Use bold, underlined, or italic text, or a slightly larger font.
  • Do align your dates and locations to the right.  This small change will make your resume way easier on the eyes.  You should be able to make a ”column” of dates and locations for each job by using a right tab.

Action Verbs

Resume Templates:

Skills Resume Template