Preparing Resumes

by Constance DeVereaux and Jennifer Hillman Helgren

A resume serves as a summary of your qualifications and expertise that relate to the job for which you are applying. It should be carefully crafted so that it projects the appropriate, professional image. Here are some common-sense rules for creating a resume:

Make the resume visually effective to communicate professionalism and clarity. Make it easy to read at a glance: use capital letters, bold print, underlining, and spacing to highlight your strongest credentials. Don’t go overboard, though. Too much bold and underlining will look cluttered. Remember that the point of emphasizing something is to make it stand out. The purpose is defeated if too much is highlighted. Similarly, don't make it too dense, busy, or cute. Use plain white or cream bond paper.

Try to keep a resume to one page, particularly for business and media fields, and use normal 10-12-point font. If your resume demands a second page, make sure the first page contains essential information and the second page includes your name.

Be consistent with grammatical structure and style, and make sure grammar and spelling are perfect. Proofread your resume several times and then have someone else proofread (or bring it to the Writing Center and have a consultant look at it). Stay away from abbreviations and jargon.



It is your experience, not the date you gained the experience, that is important. So, it is not a good idea to put dates in the margins (although that is the standard for resumes in business fields, so follow the standard if you are applying for that type of job).

Present information in order of its importance. For example, if you happen to have substantial experience (or are applying for a non-academic job and want to de-emphasize your doctorate) list experience before education. You can also place a summary of your skills or expertise first if that is your strongest point.

Select the best format for your qualifications and experience: chronological (beginning with most recent), functional, or a combination. A chronological format, which should start with your most recent experience, is easiest to construct. Functional formats are most appropriate for people who have little work experience or whose capabilities have been demonstrated in non-professional situations. The functional resume categorizes your experience (including paid and unpaid work, and personal achievements) by skill, followed by a brief section listing employment history. Functional resumes are harder to pull off successfully, partly because readers wonder if you are hiding something. For that reason, a combination of the two is often more effective for career changers. You can emphasize a specific category (e.g. experience, skills) by placing it first. Then within each category you can list experience in chronological order.

Personal information such as age, marital health status, and race or ethnicity should be omitted.

Also, any information not related to the job for which you are applying does not need to be included. Including extra information puts you at risk of inundating prospective employers with boring information and losing their attention.

Additional Resources

Sample Resume: Michael A. Bridges - Bridges states that he "wants to help build and grow a foundation within an organization by combining business, consulting, and manufacturing experiences."

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