What is a resume?
The resume is one of the most important items in your job search toolkit. Think of yourself as the brand and your resume as a powerful marketing piece that sells your most important qualifications and how they relate to the position you want. To stand out among other applicants, you need a resume that markets your strengths and match for the job.
A great resume:
MCC Libraries' Resume Guide will help you create a resume that will stand out in today’s job market.
The guidelines, examples and associated rubrics posted on this site were developed by Mohave Community College Libraries in an effort to provide basic information and minimum standards to individuals creating their first professional resume. This webpage is not intended to be a comprehensive, all-inclusive volume that addresses all possible variations of resumes.
Mohave Community College Libraries provides services and tools to students and alumni but is not responsible for any representations or guarantees with regard to securing employment.
An important part of what makes you valuable to an employer is your skillset. Transferable skills are used in many different careers, and help make you an attractive job candidate. But identifying skills - especially the transferable ones - can be difficult.
To identify yours, take a skills assessment test. Another option is to list the key tasks from your previous jobs, and highlight any verbs or action verbs, and include them in your resume. Some examples of transferable skills include:
Check out these sources to help you identify your skills and find the kinds of work they relate to:
Potential employers want to see what experience and skills you can bring to their company. Before you begin writing your resume, review and list all of the attributes you possess. Consider both your basic career assets, such as jobs you've held and courses you've taken, and any related experience or special training. Don't forget to include your unique-to-you assets, like your strongest skills and values. Being able to identify and describe your skills allows you to answer key questions at job interviews such as What can you do for my organization? and What problems can you solve?
Here are some examples of what you'll want to think about in each category:
Basic career assets:
Unique assets you offer:
⇒ Use the below worksheet to list your attributes and make sure to include them in your resume as appropriate
Analyze the Job Description
One good way to help your resume stand out is to analyze the job description before you start. Assessing what the prospective employer is looking for can greatly help get your resume noticed.
Keywords - for brainstorming your Resume, Cover Letter, Interview
The way to get your resume "through the front door" is to make sure you use Keywords.
With so many people looking for jobs these days, employers are scanning resumes (see ATS software tab) to see how your resume matches up to their job opening. Resumes that appear qualified will go the next step - usually a human resources worker will review your resume. If a resume does not match enough of their qualifications, your resume is toast!
Keywords are the link to the most important qualities and qualifications an employer is looking for. It's no secret - all the information you need is right in their employment listing. When applying for a job, print out the ad. Look for all the important points and highlight these keywords. The "important points" could be about the culture of the company, the qualities they are looking for, and qualifications required. Here is an example:
Actual Job Description with Keywords Highlighted and Underlined
"Want to build your career with a world-class company? You will receive comprehensive classroom and on the job training that will prepare you to investigate the facts of a claim with the ultimate goal of bringing a satisfactory resolution. A Fortune 500 company, XXX is one of the largest providers of personal auto insurance in the U. S. Working at XXX means having extensive career path opportunities and the chance to work with diverse, bright colleagues in an innovative, dynamic atmosphere, where results are rewarded. We're looking for someone who can work effectively with customers who've been in an accident while keeping an eye on the details. Primary Job Responsibilities: - Investigate the circumstances surrounding auto accidents. - Estimate the cost of repairs and value of injury claims. - Settle the claim. Knowledge and Skills: - Bachelor's degree or equivalent combined relevant work experience and/or post-secondary education required. (Relevant work experience includes a position requiring critical thinking, problem solving, serving customers, negotiating, effective written/verbal communication. Valid driver’s license required. "
The underlined words in the above ad are keywords that describe the company and their culture:
⇒ What you want your resume and cover letter to reflect: (1) experience you've had with larger companies; (2) if you are innovative, creative, motivated; (3) past training or schooling.
The highlighted areas show the qualifications and skills they are looking for:
⇒ Make sure that these skills are emphasized on your resume (and cover letter), placing them prominently near the top if possible. Give examples in your work experience, education, volunteer sections to reflect your expertise in these areas. Don't forget to include any personal qualities that are outstanding - achievements, awards, good grades; any experience you have related to your new profession.
It is important that your resume is easy to read, and the design you choose plays a big part in that. A well-defined design suggests good organization. Avoid fancy or complicated fonts—simplicity is the key.
⇒ Resist the urge to use this opportunity to showcase your creative talents. Avoid including pictures of yourself, pets, or hobbies in your resume.
Headings and Organization
A resume is formatted much like an outline with headings that highlight your education, experience, and skills. Each resume has anywhere from 5-6 headings under which information, used to market you, is summarized.
This heading includes accurate and complete contact information. Do not include a picture or personal information such as marital status, age, hobbies, etc.
Objective Statement (optional)
An objective statement is one or two sentences near the top of your resume that introduces your goals to the employer. With this statement, you identify the reasons you are applying for this job and the skills that make you suitable for it.
The best time to use an objective statement on your resume is when you are changing into an entirely new career. When changing to a new career, you need to show why you’re interested in this new field and how your past skills can transfer over.
Example: Recent graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in English looking for a job as an administrative assistant. Hoping to join an established company where I can put my communication and organizational skills to good use.
Summary of Qualifications (optional)
The summary of qualifications is a statement that summarizes your experience, areas of expertise, and skills.
This heading includes complete and accurate information regarding education. Do not include primary or secondary education (middle school or high school).
This heading includes a summary of your job descriptions and duties. Try to include statements of achievement and contribution as well as present your experience as it relates directly to your skills and experience the employer needs.
Skills or Accomplishments
This is an optional heading that is specific to the position you’re applying for. Include this heading if you have a short work history and need to add to your resume.
This heading includes leadership accomplishments and other information that does not precisely fit the needs of your resume or identified headings. This section may be placed before or after the work experience section depending on which section best represents you for the position.
The first thing an employer wants to learn from a resume is “how could this person help my organization?” You can help the employer find an answer by including your accomplishments.
Think about what you did in past jobs. What problems did you solve? What solutions did you come up with? What benefits did this have for the business, customers, or employees?
Use these questions to start listing your accomplishments:
Here’s how Beth expressed the accomplishments from the table above:
“Led a project to streamline and reorganize the company’s SharePoint project file system, making it easier and faster for employees to find information and serve customers.”
"Accomplishment statements" show your strengths, instead of telling them. An employer may or may not believe you if your résumé includes the words “high achiever.” Employers will know you are a high achiever if your résumé includes specific examples.
Always start with an action verb.
Good: “Responsible for leading team for classroom assignments.”
Stronger: “Directed team of 3 classmates to complete assignments on time.”
Use colorful and unique action verbs.
Good: “Started a new program.”
Stronger: “Created and implemented a new recycling program with 80% participation of employees.”
Attempt to quantify at all times.
Good: “Handled cash transactions.”
Stronger: “Handled $1,000 in transactions weekly.”
State the benefit to the employer first, then what you did to accomplish that result.
Good: “Developed a marketing strategy that increased student involvement 15%.”
Stronger: “Increased student involvement 15% using a creative marketing strategy.”
⇒ Use the below worksheet to format your reference page
Palatine, IL 60067
1200 West Algonquin Road
Palatine, IL 60067
Academic Data Network Computer Center
1111 West Oak Street
Palatine, IL 60067
1234 Main Street
Palatine, IL 60067
The Cover Letter, Example
123 Acoma Blvd.
Lake Havasu City, AZ 86403
January 30, 2015
Ms. Jane Smith
Physical Therapy Dept.
1234 Main St.
Lake Havasu City, AZ 86403
RE: Physical Therapist Assistant position
Dear Ms. Smith
I am applying for the Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) position at Lakeside Family Therapy advertised on your website on January 12, 2015.
Currently, I am a student in the Physical Therapy Assistant (PTA) program at Mohave Community College with an expected graduation date of May 2015, and I believe that my experience and education will be an asset to your physical therapy department because:
I am looking forward to meeting with you to further discuss this work opportunity. At your convenience, you can contact me at (123) 456-7890 or via email at email@example.com.
The Cover Letter, Dissected
A career portfolio is a curated collection of a job candidate's best work. Writers would collect their best articles; web designers would have samples from their best websites; and teachers would put together the student work samples and lesson plans they're most proud of.
A portfolio provides tangible evidence to potential employers of your accomplishments, skills, and abilities. It shows the scope and quality of your experience and training.
By developing an ePortfolio, you will be able to:
If you're creating an online portfolio, present your credentials and personal information in a functional, user-friendly, and aesthetically-pleasing manner. Consider including an "about me" page with information on your background and a PDF of your resume with your contact information redacted.
WordPress and Squarespace are great tools to build an online presence for your work. You may also find that there are online options that cater to people in your field. For instance, journalists might use sites like Muck Rack to showcase their writing clips. Designers might want to take advantage of portfolio sites like Behance and Dribble. Other options include Google's Sites, Weebly, and Wix.
Follow these tips to create a professional, targeted, and customized career resource that showcases your unique value to an employer.