RESUME STRUCTURE & CHECKLIST
A resume is divided into sections for ease of finding pertinent information. In general, the sections are: Header, Objective, Summary, Employment History, Education and Professional Affiliations.
The purpose of this section is to provide your identifying information. It should include your first name, middle initial, last name, street address, city, state, zip, phone number(s) and email address. Make sure the information is in a large enough font to be useful. Also, remember to include your full name on your page of references.
The purpose of this section is to provide a snapshot of your career objective(s). In most cases, your previous work experiences will serve to identify your career objective(s) and so this section is not needed. However, if you are an entry level worker (recently out of school or just joining the workforce) or if you are changing your career track, then invest time in this section. When writing, focus on how you would benefit the employer/company and not the other way around. Remember, less than 20 seconds will initially be spent reviewing your resume so you need to be concise.
If you have more than one career objective in mind, that is fine. Plan to have several versions of a resume so that you can customize the objective for each of your career goals or positions. Be sure to save each resume with a name you will readily recognize so that you do not submit the incorrect one!
The purpose of this section is to showcase yourself. After reading your summary, the employer should have a good understanding of the skills and competencies you will bring to the position as well as how those skills and competencies will benefit the company. To have the greatest impact, you should use this section to address the qualifications they list in their advertisement as well as any additional qualifications that will make you stand out from the other applicants. Yes, this means you will need to have several versions of your resume on hand, but wouldn’t you prefer to hire someone who specifically meets the needs of your company?
Another purpose to this section is to incorporate Keywords. Many companies rely on technology and scanning to select relevant resumes/candidates, so use the advertisement and/or the organization’s website to identify keywords and then insert them in your resume.
Employment History (Back to top)
The purpose of this section is to highlight notable accomplishments. Again, you want to catch the attention of the hiring manager. The trap that many people fall into when writing this section is that they provide a job description. The thing is, hiring managers already know what most jobs entail. They are not looking for a job description; they are looking for what you accomplished in that job –how you made that workplace a better place. Most entries in this section should include the answer to the question, “So what?” In other words, give a measurable result of your action. For example:
“Designed and created an internship packet” becomes “Designed and created an internship packet which resulted in 20% increased internship placements.”
“Expanded underwriting territory” becomes “Expanded underwriting territory which increased customer base and revenues 15%.”
List the accomplishment and the positive effect. Remember, if you have resumes with different objectives you should fine-tune the Employment History section of your resume to reflect the objective. If you are going to be selling hot dogs, your employer does not need to know that you can type 120 words per minute! Your employment history should complement your objective.
List your current or most recent job first and then continue to proceed in reverse chronological order. You have limited space with a resume so use it wisely. Each job does not have to have the same amount of lines designated to it. Don’t use a lot of space trying to list five accomplishments from a summer job you had 5 years ago if it is not pertinent to this job.
Lastly, avoid personal pronouns. Since you are the one submitting the resume, it is understood that these are your accomplishments. As in the example above, it does not state “I designed and created” or “I expanded underwriting territory.”
Education and Professional Affiliations
The purpose of this section is to provide your educational information and, if applicable, professional affiliations. Generally, this section will follow the Employment History section since most employers are interested in viewing your job accomplishments. Once you have college credits, remove your high school information.
If you are a current student or recent graduate it is acceptable to list your GPA if it is 3.00 or higher. If your major GPA is higher than your cumulative GPA, list that as well! This is also the section to list any academic honors or awards which you may have received.
Additional information may be added to your resume if it will reinforce your objective and make you stand-out from the other applicants. Some of these categories include: Testimonials, Publications, Speaking Engagements and Volunteerism. If you are not sure if you should include something, ask someone for their opinion.
___ Appearance of resume is clean and wrinkle-free
___ Ample white space/Even margins/Consistent font and spacing
___ Clearly labeled sections
___ No typos
___ Correct and consistent use of tenses
___ Objective and Employment History complement each other
___ Accurate use of bullets, bolding, etc
___ Most or all accomplishments listed in Employment History also give a measurable result
___ The information is relevant to the position applied for
___ There are no personal pronouns such as I, me or my
___ Utilized keywords