Resume Resources

Resume Basics

An effective resume summarizes your qualifications, education and experiences. It will also highlight your skills and other information relevant to the position or type of organization for which you are applying. It is organized in distinct, prioritized blocks of information called
headings or sections, and is typically a one-page document. It is designed to get you an interview.

A resume is not your life story! Each heading offers the reader selected details about your background and skills. One must choose these highlights carefully and "package" them effectively to give the resume impact and its own particular character. It's meant to be organized in a manner that will allow it to be "skimmed" rather than read line for line. A resume is an advertisement of your particular skills and qualifications.

In most cases, employers will request that candidates submit a resume to be considered for vacancies (current or future) within their organization. A resume is also a preferred way to introduce yourself, your qualifications and accomplishments to prospective employers at job fairs, and in networking situations. While a resume is critical in your job search, it may also be helpful in applying to graduate school, fellowship programs, or for scholarships. You may also need a resume to apply for leadership positions.

The Smith Career Center can help you gain the necessary skills to write an effective resume. Several workshops on resume writing are held each semester and additional printed resources are available in the Pardieck Memorial Career Library at the Smith Career Center.

Qualities of a Great Resume

  • A concise, accurate account of your qualifications. Most undergraduates should try to limit their resume to one-page. Graduate students and alumni, depending on their field and amount of experience, may consider two or more pages.
  • Text format is consistent and attractively arranged, making the resume easy to scan for the major points. REMEMBER, you probably have less than a minute to make a positive impact on the reader.
  • Layout is eye-appealing and centered on the page, with effective and consistent use of fonts, margins, indentations, bolding, underlining, caps, and bullets.
  • Clearly printed on quality white or buff paper, with matching paper for cover letters and envelopes.
  • "Action" verbs used to describe experiences (Watch verb tenses - past tense for past positions, present tense for current positions.)
  • Highlighted accomplishments - doesn't just focus on job responsibilities.
  • Minimal use of abbreviations and Bradley or other Universities "jargon."
  • Use "Buzz" words to demonstrate knowledge of your field.
  • Does not include use of first person personal pronouns such as "I", "me" or "my."

Resume Format

The reverse chronological format is used by most candidates. Within each major heading, information is presented in reverse chronological order (most recent information first, then moving backward through time). Dates are included, plus brief descriptive information for the most important entries in each heading.

Elements of a Great Resume

Contact Information

  • Name. Use larger, bolder font for extra punch (usually
    centered). Avoid nicknames.
  • Complete address, telephone number and e-mail address. If your current/school address is different from your permanent address, place it in the upper left, with the permanent/home address and telephone number at the upper right position.

Job/Career Objective

The job objective is a statement that appears at the top of your resume which expresses interest in a specific job or vacancy and/or tells the reader about your career goals. An objective suggests to a prospective employer that you know what you want to do and that you possess the skills or background necessary to be successful in that position. Here are some hints on writing an effective objective:

  • Your objective needs to be supported by the contents of your resume. It can guide how your resume is organized with the factors more relevant to your objective being mentioned first. Your educational background and/or experiences should support your objective.
  • Try not to be too grandiose in your statement. An employer usually doesn't want to know what you want to do with the rest of your life. The reader needs to be able to determine quickly what type of position for which you are applying.
  • Avoid "self-serving" objectives. For example, it's probably not a good idea to state that you would like a position where YOU are able to grow, advance and enhance YOUR skills. Prospective employers for the most part want to see what you can do for the organization.
  • If you are interested in exploring different types of job opportunities, it will probably be more effective to develop a few different objectives tailored to the position or type of employer you are targeting. This can be particularly effective if you have a few different areas of interest.

An objective might contain the following information:

  • A functional job title, for example:
    • Accountant, Underwriter or Marketing Representative
    • Graphic Designer, Assistant Editor
    • Biologist, Analytical Chemist
    • Industrial or Manufacturing Engineer
    • Third Grade Teacher, High School History Teacher
  • A general occupational field, for example:
    • Retailing, merchandising
    • Health care
    • Education (elementary, secondary, or higher ed)
    • Telecommunications
  • And in some cases, your special skills, competencies that are related to your objective:
    • Specific computer, research, other technical skills
    • Demonstrated organizational, leadership skills

Sample Objective Statements

  • "Secondary mathematics teaching position utilizing effective classroom management skills and creative teaching methods"
  • "Position in commercial banking utilizing finance, accounting and communication skills. Areas of interest include lending, credit analysis customer service."
  • "Full-time summer internship in mechanical engineering where theories and skills gained in the classroom can be utilized."

Education Information

For most new graduates, this is your strongest qualification.

  • List either your degree and major first (with expected month and year of graduation) or "Bradley University, Peoria, IL" on the first line, followed by your degree, major, expected graduation date.
  • Previous degree(s), if any, would follow in exactly the same format you chose for the above. Generally speaking, list other colleges attended (and dates) if you spent at least one year there. High school information is generally not mentioned after freshman year.

Other Information under Education (Optional)

  • Overall GPA - especially if 3.0 or higher (indicate GPA Scale, i.e., 3.0/4.0).
  • Major GPA - may be used instead of overall if it is significantly higher; usually both are listed.
  • Minor(s) or area(s) of concentration.
  • Related Coursework - maybe not courses that everyone in your major takes, but those that show additional skills or competencies.
  • Honors - could be included within 'Education' or be listed as a separate heading if they are numerous!

Work Experience

  • List either the job title or the employer (with city, state) first (just be consistent with your format).
  • Dates of Employment (month/year to month/year, or since "January 2000"; "Summers, 1998 - 2000").
  • Eliminate left margin clutter by placing dates to the right of the job title or on the line below it.
  • Brief description of duties/experience. For impact, use phrases beginning with "action verbs," not complete sentences.
  • Cite accomplishments or results for even greater impact! Use numbers and percentages to describe outcome.

Optional Titles for "Experience" Heading

Optional section headings for students with other career-related experiences:

  • Internship/Co-op Experience
  • Student Teaching Experience
  • Field, Clinical, Laboratory, or Practicum Experience
  • Other Experience (not directly related to the field you are entering)
  • Military Experience

Tips About Listing Work Experience

  • All jobs need not be included. Mention those most recent or most related to job target. Consider combining the rest in a brief closing statement or listing them in a heading called "Additional Experience".
  • If you earned a significant percentage (half or more) of your college tuition / expenses, say so at the beginning or end of the "Experience" section! If you worked more than 15-20 hours per week while attending classes, also mention that here or in your cover letter!
  • When listing co-op, internships or other training experiences, identify them as such.

Other Possible Heading Titles

  • Computer Skills (operating systems, applications, programming languages, hardware/networking)
  • Memberships (Professional or Social)
  • Laboratory Skills
  • Certifications or Licensure
  • Activities (Campus, Community, Volunteer)
  • Research / Publications

Should I Include References on My Resume?

You should not include names of references on the resume, but you may note at the bottom of your resume that references will be provided upon request.

Some candidates may elect to prepare a separate page listing three or four references; including name, title, organization, business address, business phone number and e-mail address. It is also helpful to add a phrase describing how you know the person ( i.e., internship supervisor,
college professor, academic advisor, etc.).

Final Tips

  • Attend a SCC workshop on resume writing.
  • Meet with your career advisor to discuss specific strategies on tailoring your resume, or you can also use e-mail for quick questions.
  • Use the SCC's Overnight Review Service for feedback on your resume.
  • Don't include high school information after sophomore year except in special circumstances.
  • Unless you are in a creative field, conventional resume formats will be effective in most job searches.
  • Do not use photographs and personal information about sex, age, marital status, and religion should not be included.

How Can the Smith Career Center Help Me Prepare a Resume?

Career Advisors at the Smith Career Center are happy to review your resume through the Overnight Review Service. Bring your resume to the Smith Career Center and drop it off. You will be able to pick up your critiqued resume by 4:00 p.m. the following business day. In addition, Career Advisors can also work with you one-on-one to learn more about your resume.