Career Center

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logo Write Your Resume

I. TO START

•  A resume is a marketing tool -- an honest, enthusiastic, positive document targeted to those in the position to hire. If you are interested in teaching, your resume should scream teaching.

If, for example, you are also interested in marketing, another version of your resume should emphasize marketing and analytical skills. You may need more than one version of your resume. Research the field to know what skills/abilities/qualities will be most important. Conduct informational interviews with people in the field to learn more about it (see article on networking and informational interviews).

•  If you don't know what you want, you can still start writing a resume, it will just be more difficult to know if you are targeting it correctly. Come talk to us in the Career Center if you need help with this.

•  A resume is not written in complete sentences. Use short phrases including the most important words.

•  A resume should be written in natural English. Phrases such as, "performed team management" have no real meaning. Be specific about what you did.

II. RESUME COMPONENTS

Name and Address Information:

•  You need to include: Name, Address, Phone numbers, and Email addresses.

•  Consider including current and permanent information so employers can contact you quickly.

•  Check your vital information--remember spell check doesn't pick up numbers (i.e. zip codes and phone numbers.)

•  It doesn't matter:

•  which side the permanent and campus addresses are on;

•  whether you label your addresses as permanent and campus (as long as the college is listed as part of the campus address)

Objective:

•  Is an optional part of your resume.

•  Who should have one? Someone whose career goals are not apparent from the rest of his/her resume. (If that is so in your case, you should meet with a counselor to determine what else you can do to market to your field of interest.)

Examples of good objectives
(Ones that are specific; tell the reader what the person wants to do):

•  To obtain a position as an assistant media planner

•  Seeking a position teaching mathematics and coaching athletics in a secondary school setting

•  A research position that uses my strong biology laboratory skills

Examples of weak objectives
(Ones that are vague. You may think you are trying to be flexible, but more than likely the reader will think you lack focus):

•  To obtain a position within a company where I may apply my educational diversity, communication skills and creativity.

•  To secure a job in the business field.

•  A position in sales, marketing or public relations.

Education:

•  Education is generally listed first until you get your first professional job, after which education can move to the bottom of your resume.

•  Schools are listed in reverse chronological order--current school first.

•  Include at least: School, location, degree or degrees, major(s) and date received or expected (month, year).

•  You may choose to include honors, relevant coursework, activities, and study abroad programs either here or in separate sections.

•  GPA: It is your decision as to whether or not to include it. Rule of thumb: Above a 3.0 include it; below, don't. If you are applying for an accounting position you should always include your GPA. Some employers feel that if you don't include it, you are hiding a very low GPA, but you need to decide whether your GPA is an asset. An alternative is to consider including only your major GPA.

•  Other colleges: If you transferred, or took summer courses elsewhere, you may wish to list your other school(s).

•  High school: Optional. You may need to include it until your sophomore year. You may also wish to include if it helps you. For example, if you want to teach at a prep school and you went to a prep school or if you went to a highly selective high school that has name recognition.

Experience:

•  This is the critical part of a resume. Describe your experience in terms of your accomplishments and skills (not necessarily in terms of the job description). Quantify or qualify (what? how?) whenever possible to clarify what you achieved. Use numbers, dollars, or percentages to substantiate your experience.

•  Experience does not just mean employment. Relevant activities or leadership positions (MAC, Student Council, Greek activities, etc.) can be included if you want to write about them in detail.

•  Did you supervise people?

•  Did you save the organization money? Can you quantify either by percentage or dollar amount?

•  Did you have an idea that made the operation more efficient?

•  Did you learn a lot about a field?

•  Did you increase membership?

•  Use action verbs and an active tense. Start each phrase with an action verb. See list for suggestions. Avoid the phrase "responsibilities included…" The more precise and concise you are, the more powerful the statement.

•  Dates: Can be listed as years (2006-07), semesters (Fall 2007) or months and years (May 2007-August 2007). Dates can be off to the right or contained within the description. Dates can be on the left as well, but generally the most important information should be on the left.

•  Headings: What we are generically calling "Experience" you can title a variety of ways. Select headings that best fit your background and market you to your intended field.

Some Suggested Headings:

Achievements Internship(s)

Activities Laboratory Skills

Additional Experience Leadership

Art Marketing

Community Service Presentations

Computer Skills Professional Experience

Courses Publications

Employment Relevant Coursework

Experience Relevant/Related Experience

Fieldwork Research

Finance Experience Skills

Hobbies or Interests Student Teaching

Honors Volunteer

International Writing Experience

III. SPECIFICS

•  A traditional college student's resume is one page. Those pursuing careers in education will have the option of two pages. The rule of thumb: Add the second page after ten years of experience.

•  Hobbies and interests are always optional.

•  Resumes are most always accompanied by cover letters.

•  Font size, generally 12. A 10 point font is acceptable (it may look better with 12 point headings).

•  Use a font that is easy to read; for example, Times New Roman or Arial. Avoid Courier - it looks like a typewriter. Use but don't overuse italics and underlines when formatting.

•  If printing the resume, use quality bond paper. In general, stick to off-white, white or gray. This type of paper can be purchased at the bookstore or in office supply stores.

IV. THE "NEVERS"

•  Don't put marriage status, health or birth date on a resume. Personal information is unnecessary and, in fact, illegal for an employer to ask until you have been hired (See article on illegal questions.)

•  You also never need to write: "Recommendations available upon request".  Have a separate page, set up similarly to your resume, to list your references. Provide it when requested (see article on References).

The Career Center, Muhlenberg College
2400 W. Chew Street, Allentown, PA 18104-5586
Ph: (484) 664-3170    Fax: (484) 664-3533


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Last Revised March 25, 2008
Questions and comments? Send e-mail to careers@muhlenberg.edu
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