Your resume may be the most important marketing tool in your job search.
In most cases, this presentation of your accomplishments and skills will be your first introduction to an employer. When creating your resume, remember that the goal is to produce a document that will convince each targeted employer to invite you to an interview.
An effective resume helps the prospective employer form a picture of you as a candidate who demonstrates the skills needed for the job and who achieves results. Having a master resume on file allows you to maintain notes related to your experiences and when you apply for a position, you can pull from the master list to create a tailored resume.
The following information and resources may be helpful to you as you write and refine your resume. We encourage you to have your resume critiqued by a member of the Career Center consulting staff.
When creating your resume, remember the goal is to produce a document that will convince each employer to invite you to interview. Begin by creating a comprehensive document then tailor it for each job.
Focusing on your accomplishments and experiences is essential in writing an effective resume, but don’t forget the details that are also noticed. Inventing a new name for your degree or neglecting to write the town and state of your internship are among the mistakes candidates make that leave the employer wondering how attentive they are to details.
What is a master resume? A master resume is a document that lists and describes in detail your work experience, accomplishments, volunteer experience, extracurricular activities, etc. Your master resume is the place to record everything you think might be valuable to share in your more tailored resume, on your job application, or in your interview. If you are a freshman, you will include involvement and achievements from high school.
Because this particular resume is for your use only, you can elaborate on responsibilities and projects that might later be pared down or, depending on the targeted position, not mentioned at all. When noting experiences and accomplishments, include the skills you demonstrated.
When you are preparing for an interview, you will have a listing of different skills you have acquired and examples of how you have applied them. A comprehensive list of experiences and skills allows you to notice patterns and connections among your accomplishments and activities. Noticing themes in your prior involvements may lead to ideas about future employment. If you have a career in mind, you may also be able to spot gaps in your background related to skills needed to secure employment. You can begin planning ways to acquire missing skills or to gain experience that you know will be valued.
A functional resume focuses more on your skills and areas of experience or expertise. A chronological resume emphasizes specific positions/titles and the tasks associated with each. If your chronological resume clearly shows experiences related to the target position, then a chronological format is most appropriate for you. If listing your qualifications chronologically does not immediately show the reader that you are a match for that job, then consider the functional format.
Though employers may be drawn to the categories of experiences and skills on a functional resume, some still like to see the specific tasks you held in each job. You can address this by including some specifics in the areas of skills that are easily associated with previous jobs. You can then include a “basic facts only” employment section presented in reverse chronological order.
Keep in mind that one resume will not necessarily be effective for all jobs you’re targeting. Consider asking professionals in your chosen field to review different versions of your resume and offer suggestions on the best approach.
A tailored resume is one written to address the specific requirements of the targeted job or organization. Recruiters scan resumes quickly to evaluate a candidate’s qualifications for the job being filled. For that reason, applicants need to examine the requirements carefully and write their resume as a marketing tool for that position rather than a lengthy overview to accommodate all potential employers.
Tailoring a resume begins with dissecting the job posting to have a clear understanding of what the employer needs. With that understanding, you can then consider how to present your information to show you are able to meet those needs.
Writing a tailored resume is often more difficult than people expect. Allow yourself time to write a couple of drafts and to have your resume critiqued. A member of the Career Center consulting staff will be glad to review your resume and offer suggestions.
Military experience provides opportunities to develop a range of skills, many of which transfer to civilian jobs. Once you begin targeting jobs, you’ll want to write a resume that includes your military experience described in terms readily understood by someone without a military background.
Avoid using military jargon, abbreviations, and acronyms. Focus on the skills you developed in leadership, communication, teamwork, management, supervision, training, translating, coordinating, planning, monitoring, and organizing. These are among the many transferable skills gained through military experience.
Resumes for federal jobs include more details than those written for jobs in private industries. You can begin building a resume for federal employment in the same way you build any resume — by listing jobs, skills, accomplishments, projects, leadership positions, and activities. After generating this list, visit usajobs.gov to learn how to format resumes for government jobs.
Creating an online resume allows you to present your qualifications through videos, images, and examples of your work. Depending on your field, an online resume might be more effective than a traditional resume. There are a variety of options for developing an online resume including paying someone to create one for you. Before deciding on this option, consider using a free service to create your own. At visualcv.com, you can learn more about the benefits of having an online resume and the steps for creating one at no charge.
Resume content and formats vary from country to country. If you are interested in working outside the U.S., be sure to research guidelines for writing an appropriate resume for your desired location.
No matter how clever the design, a resume will still need to convey to the employer your potential to bring value to the organization. If you put all your effort into the style of your resume, you may neglect to develop the substance.
Focus first on the content of your resume. The suggestions in the previous section, “Building Your Resume,” may help you generate ideas.
Think of creative projects you have done as a volunteer, organization member, employee, or intern. Relevant experience does not have to be paid experience. Let the employer know you have demonstrated your talents and honed your skills. The resumes on the following pages offer examples of ways to highlight accomplishments and diverse abilities.
If you are interested in learning how you might add an appropriate touch of creativity to your resume, talk with professionals in your targeted field or meet with your career consultant in the UA Career Center. You may also refer to page 37 for information about portfolios. Promoting creativity through a portfolio is recommended by employers who caution that creative resumes can backfire. Research the organization to which you’re applying and try to determine if a more cutting-edge resume design is your best bet. If the organization receives hundreds of resumes for each position, you might go with a design that will stand out (positively) from the rest. Examples of creative resumes are available on numerous websites including Pinterest (www.pinterest.com).
The curriculum vitae (also referred to as a CV or vita) is a comprehensive biographical statement, typically three or more pages, emphasizing professional qualifications and activities. Below are tips to help you begin preparing your document. The CV is a detailed and structured listing of education, publications, projects, awards, and work history. This document works best for job seekers applying for positions in academics or research. The CV may also work well for graduate school applicants required to elaborate on research experience and/or research interests.
The CV is far more detailed (typically 3-8 or more pages) than a resume (1-2 pages). The CV can include educational and work achievements, research experience, languages, skills, grants/fellowships/scholarships, classes, licenses or certifications, professional associations, and other relevant information. A resume is a shorter, concise document that highlights aspects of your background that relate to the position for which you are applying. Unless the prospective employer specifically requests a CV, it is safest to send a resume.