You are here

General Guidelines

Length:

  • A one-page resume works well for current students or recent graduates.
  • Two pages are reasonable if you have extensive work experience; however, limit information to what is pertinent to your current job objective.
  • The most important information should be stated on the first page.

Appearance:

  • Must be well-organized, neat, and concise.
  • Proofread to make sure grammar, punctuation, and spelling are flawless.
  • Recommend using high-quality white, ivory, or beige paper. References and cover letter should also be on the same paper.
  • Layout should generally have a one-inch margin on top and all sides.

Content:

  • Design your resume with a particular objective in mind.
  • Accent your strong points by listing them first. (If you are a new graduate with little or no practical experience, list your degree first. If your work experiences are relevant to the position and your degree is an added benefit, you may list the work history first.)
  • Be honest. Never falsify or exaggerate information.
  • Concentrate on the positive and highlight your strengths; Downplay your weaknesses.
  • Use power statements beginning with action verbs (supervised, organized, planned, developed, created, etc.)
  • Use key words and phrases instead of complete sentences. Eliminate the pronoun "I".
  • Don't include unnecessary personal information—race, religion, political affiliation, height, weight, age, marital status, etc.

Choose a Format

There is no "perfect" or "right" format. The one you choose will depend upon your particular circumstances and the job you are applying for. These formats are:

Chronological Resume:

Start with the most recent employment and education, then work backward to your first job.

Advantages: It is logical and easy to follow. Gives a clear picture of where you've worked and what you have accomplished. Many employers prefer this form.

Disadvantages: Limited experience, any gaps in employment or other weak areas may be evident.

Functional Resume:

Work experience is arranged according to areas of skill.

Advantages: Draws attention to accomplishments. Highlights skills rather than your work experience or lack of it.

Disadvantages: Some employers are suspicious of this form; they think the candidate may be trying to cover up something such as gaps in employment. Also presents a major challenge for the writer; employment objective must be very clear.

Suited for the following personal circumstances:

1. Mature professionals with a wealth of expertise and jobs.
2. Entry-level types whose track records do not justify a chronological resume.
3. Career changers who want to focus on skills rather than credentials.
4. Military personnel embarking on a civilian career.
5. Those returning to the workplace after a long absence.
6. People closer to retirement than to the onset of their careers.

Tips for Scannable Resumes

  • Make sure that your name is the first readable item on each page.
  • Focus on nouns, not verbs.
  • Use popular, non-decorative typefaces.
  • Use a font size of 10-14.
  • Avoid italics, script and underlining.
  • Avoid graphics and shading.
  • Avoid horizontal and vertical lines.
  • Avoid staples and folds.