Write it yourself: Look at examples of resumes, but don't copy them. If you copy a resume, your resume won't sound like you and it may be obvious that you didn't write it yourself.
Make it error free: PROOFREAD!!! There is no excuse for misspellings, poor grammar, and/or typing errors--just one could cost you a job. Show your resume to friends, family, and professional career counselors. Check each word again before you have it printed and send it to an employer.
Stress your accomplishments: Be positive. Capitalize on your strengths and leave out any negative words. Don't apologize for any lack of experience or a weakness. Emphasize accomplishments and results. The fact that you successfully coordinated a student organization event leads one to believe that your could coordinate other things as well.
Be specific: Give facts and numbers. Instead of saying you are good with people, say "Supervised and trained three people in the mail room and increased their productivity by 30%"
Be concise. Use phrases that are descriptive, but not wordy. Avoid lengthy paragraphs of information. Look for extra words in each section, and eliminate words that point out the obvious (for example: "resume", "Phone Number"). Use verbs like "initiated", "created", or "managed" to describe your activities and responsibilities. The "I" is always implied.
Avoid use of abbreviations. Examples: A.S., B.A., B.S., G.P.A., and PA are commonly understood. A.B.C., ASME, B.A.S.I.C.S., E.I.T., and other acronyms are not, and should be spelled out. Avoid using "etc." on your resume.
Be accurate and honest. Don't overstate your previous responsibilities or titles. Don't fabricate past employment experiences or academic credentials.
There are many creative ways to construct your resume. However, always keep in mind who will be reading your resume and the type of position you are seeking. There is not one right way of doing a resume. There are many different styles and everybody has a different expectation. The CDC recommends some basic principles to guide the development of your resume.
Length: Your resume and cover letter should be one page each, two for a resume with significant work experience. If a word or phrase does not support your ability to do the job, keep editing.
Writing Style: Use action verbs (see samples below) and short sentences. Omit personal pronouns. Avoid wordiness; be concise. Use phrases instead of lengthy sentences and start phrases with an active verb in the past tense, e.g. directed, supervised, etc.
Format: Remember the 20-second scan test. Readability, eye appeal, brevity, and a total positive impression are required; ability to be computer-scanned is helpful. Spacing and separation of resume sections will help you to achieve this. You may want to use boldface or all capitals to make certain items more visible. Often a combination of two basic formats for the résumé are use: chronological and functional. Select the style that will highlight your best qualities and yet remain visually appealing to the reader. Learn a software package and create your own cover letters and resumes. (The CDC does not recommend using a program's resume template because it limits your formatting choices.)
Printing/Paper Quality: Print your resume and cover letters on quality bond paper of at least 20-pound weight. Many employers are cautious and conservative and prefer resumes in an off-white, ivory, or very light tan because it may be copied and/or faxed several times. Cover letter and resume paper should match and you should paper clip pages, never staple. Use large white envelopes if you want your materials to arrive unfolded. High quality copying can be done on campus at the Media and Instructional Support Center (MISC) or off campus at print shops.
Sample Action Words
Adapted from "Computer-Friendly Résumé Tips" by Joyce Lain Kennedy, Planning Job Choices: 1996 and Getting The Job You Really Want, J. Michael Farr and CDC Job and Graduate School Handbook.