A resume may fill you with dread when you first think about it, but let’s break it into smaller, more manageable pieces and tackle them one at a time. The following examples are all designed to help you create a chronological resume. Not every available feature is expounded upon. You may choose to add other sections as you see fit.
Name & Address
Well, this is easy. You know your name. You hopefully know your address. How should you lay it out?
Here are some acceptable looks:
1259 Balboa Street, San Francisco, 94118 • Tel (415) 434-4222 • email: firstname.lastname@example.org
181 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94104
James M. Cain
228 Carter Drive • San Francisco, CA 94080 • (415) 434-4222
There is some question over whether you should even list an objective. On the one hand, I find it useful in screening a mass of resumes, but then, I see upwards of fifty a day. Most employers never see that many in a week or a month, let alone a day. Industry guru Paul Falcone suggests leaving out the objective because it can creates limits in the mind of the employer reading the resume. If you create an objective that is too narrow it could cut you off from opportunities, while on the other hand, too broad an objective will telegraph the message that you do not really know what you want.
So where does that leave us? Well, if you’ve done your homework you should know the position or positions your employer entertains. You should target your objective the same way your entire resume should be targeted, towards those jobs you are familiar with. If you do not have a specific objective, or you are applying to an employment agency, or a large employer with a large range of positions, then leave out the objective. I’ve received resumes before with objectives that are several lines long. One brief, establishing sentence is ideal. Two sentences are the maximum. Learn to restrict yourself.
For more information about the dangers of listing an Objective, see Resume Pitfalls.
Here are some acceptable versions drawn from actual resumes sent to ABA Staffing:
- Entry-level Accounting or Internal Auditing Position
- To obtain an entry level position in Data Processing
- Seeking a customer service position where I can use my considerable skills and experience to benefit a progressive company in the technology industry
You should only really include your last five years of work in your Work Experience/History. Evaluate your reasons for listing more than five years carefully. Do the other years say something about you that the last five don’t? Do they help you argue your suitability for the position you are targeting? If so, then include them.
Hopefully, your Work Experience follows a logical pattern. Recruiters and employers scanning a resume tend to seek out an overall consistency. For example, you may have listed your most recent job as that of an Executive Secretary. Your position before that was as an Administration Assistant and you began your career as a Clerical Assistant. Luckily, your resume has a natural logic of its own.
For those people who may have jumped around between different jobs the task of making your Work Experience logical becomes more of a challenge. You need to be aware of this and interpret each former position as far as honesty will allow in terms of the position you are targeting. For example, if you are trying to gain a position as an Accounting Assistant and you only have retail experience, you would want to emphasize those elements of your last job that are most in accordance with your desired position. Therefore, as a retail salesperson you handled cash, conducted money transactions and perhaps counted and balanced your own draw, maybe others’ every night once the shift was over. These facts should come first in your job description; less applicable duties should come at the end.
Keep your job descriptions to a minimum. Try to create a context for the job you did, i.e. the size of the company, industry leader or not, etc. Then list your duties (most relevant first), then finish with any special accomplishments or recognition.
Finally, make sure that the dates you worked, the name of the company and your job title are all clearly highlighted in some way. Either make theses things bold, italic, underlined or in larger text.
The following examples should illustrate some of these points:
|Sept 96- – Oct 97||Woodward & Bernstein
Receptionist: Greeted clients face-to-face and answered calls for two attorneys in a small law firm. Handled ten incoming lines including voice mail extensions. Updated and filed case reports, took memos and performed other clerical duties. Used WordPerfect extensively.
|LucyArts||July 1996 – Aug 1997|
|Network Engineering: Responsible for the day to day operations of LucyArts’ Networking systems. Focused on Novell Netware 3.12 networks, Lotus/IBM cc:mail systems, Oracle Databases on Novell Netware 3.12 servers, Data Backup/Restore systems, network routing and remote network access systems. Upgraded 10 servers in the San Francisco office and 5 regional offices. Created reports for monitoring network resources. General support for user and networking issues for users and departments.|
For the most part your Education section should be pretty simple. If you are a recent graduate with little or no work experience then you may list it near the top of your resume and include details of relevant courses. Otherwise, you should only include the type of degrees you have obtained, the name of the college/university you studied at, and the year that you graduated. You may also include any distinctions such as “Graduated with Honors.”
Follow the example for a guide to laying out a good Education section:
|EDUCATION:||B.S. Degree, Business Administration Accounting, Internal Auditing Emphasis San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA
A.A. Degree, Hotel/Restaurant Management Skyline Junior College, San Bruno, CA
|Education:||California State University at Hayward Bachelor of Science in Accounting (in progress) Coursework Includes: Cost Accounting, Individual Income Taxation and Business Law
University of California at Davis Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, January 1990
Most people list the various software applications, typing skills or other knowledge under the rubric “Skills,” “Other Skills” or “Additional Skills”. Typically, this section should consist of a few lines at the most. You may bullet your list of skills if this seems suitable as it is mostly an inventory list. However, the skills you list should still be targeted to the particular job you are applying for.
Examples of Skills sections include:
|Skills:||Software: MS Word (7.0), Excel (5.0) Powerpoint (7.0)
Typing 60 wpm, data entry 12,000 ksph
|Skills:||Computer Skills: Office 97, WordPerfect Suite 7, Claris Works, Knowledge of HTML, FTP and Graphic Design Languages: French, German and Chinese|