What is a resume?
A resume is your primary marketing tool. It is a professional document meant to get you a one-on-one interview that summarizes your plans, qualifications, and values to a potential employer. It primarily focuses on select aspects of your background and experiences that highlight your strengths and accomplishments. The resume is the first impression a prospective employer has of you, making it not only the first, but most crucial step you take in your job search.
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.
Analyze Yourself and Organize your Experience
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. During the writing process, you will hightlight the attributes most attractive to the target job you are applying for, along with any related experience and training. Make sure to use the terminology of your new career field, and include the strengths and skills you have used to achieve your accomplishments.
Your List Should Include:
⇒ Remember - Save this list and add to it as your experience and skills continue to grow.
What Skills Interest Employers?
Employers are most interested in the specific skills you have become proficient in, through your courses, leadership roles, volunteering, and work experiences as they relate to the job for which you are applying. Your resume should match your skills with the skills and keywords from the job listing.
Employers want to know about your ⇒
Organization and Planning Skills
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 (either with a person or even a machine) 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
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.
Choosing the best words to describe yourself and your experience are key to a successful resume. Make sure that you are presenting yourself in a way in which future employers will take notice and be impressed. Creating descriptive phrases will help your resume stand out.
A common weakness found with first résumés is the absence of accomplishment statements. You need accomplishment statements because while it is easy to write on a résumé what tasks you did in a particular job, it is more challenging and important to show the reader your past ability to contribute to the productivity and/or profitability of the company.
A well-written accomplishment statement has two parts:
Outcome: The results or benefits that came as a result of your work. The outcome should be stated in terms of the value added, and in as tangible and quantified a manner as possible. To determine the outcome, you need to think of what would have happened if you did not do such a competent job. Example: if filing is not done in a timely fashion or items are misfiled, co-workers would not be able to find documents needed to provide good customer service.
Action: The action you took to achieve the outcome. What steps you took and what techniques and strengths you used. Be specific and use strong action verbs (refer to an 'Action Word Glossary' online).
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 such as:
⇒ A general guideline is to write at least one accomplishment statement for every job, but more importantly, each accomplishment statement should be tied to skills your target job requires. Each accomplishment statement should cover the most important aspects of your target job and relate directly to your job objective.
How to Write Accomplishment Statements
⇒ Remember to use only accurate facts and percentages. An employer may perceive “guessing” on your part as dishonesty and reason to disqualify you for the job.
How to Strength an Accomplishment Statement
Poor “Trained Employees”
Good “Trained new employees resulting in increased customer satisfaction.”
Better “Trained 15 new employees over a six-month period, resulting in increased customer satisfaction.”
Best “Increased customer satisfaction 20% by providing effective training for 15 new employees in a six-month period.”
⇒ You may not have enough information to get every accomplishment statement to the “best” level, but get as close as possible for each one.
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.
Organization of Headings
The headings of your resume are organized with your personal information at the very top, and all other headings organized in a combination of chronological and functional format, depending on your background, and your personal information.
This heading includes accurate and complete contact information. Do not include a picture or personal information such as marital status, age, hobbies, etc.
This heading is an option that focuses a resume and is used to state what kind of job you are seeking. Write a focused objective that reflects not only your goal but the goal of the organization to which you’re applying.
Summary of Qualifications
This heading is an option that can be used instead of, or in addition to, an objective. 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.
Reference Page and Design Elements
Your list of references should be a separate sheet from your resume. It is not necessary to include the phrase “References available upon request.” Remember to always obtain permission from your references before using them. Tell them about the job you are seeking and verify what they will say. It is always a good idea to prepare your employment references before interviewing, so that you have a complete list ready to hand to the interviewer upon request.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Cover Letter, Dissected
Resume Writing Review
|Do's for Your Resume||Dont's for Your Resume|
|1. Tell the truth||1. Copy your resume or have someone else make it|
|2. Keep it short, simple, and error free||2. Lose track of jobs you've applied to|
|3. Easy to read in 20-30 seconds||3. Use hard to fix templates|
|4. Use keywords, stay relevant||4. Compromise your unique brand|
|5. Tell your accomplishments with explanations||5. Use pronouns (I, me, my)|
|6. Highlight transferable skills||6. Give personal information like age, marital information, or ethic background|
|7. Use strong "action" verbs||7. Be boastful or self-serving|
|8. Always include a cover letter||8. Use cliche's or weak verbs|
|9. Explain what you can do for employer||9. Make the employer guess what job you're seeking|
|10. Have one or more persons review it||10. Have any mistakes in spelling or misleading information|