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Your Resume

What is a resume?

A resume is a brief, concise document that presents and sells your most relevant and positive credentials for employment effectively.  A vitae, also known as a curriculum vitae, is a more extensive document typically used by those with graduate education.   

An effective resume is designed to get you an interview - not the job.  An employer will usually spend about 15 to 20 seconds reviewing a resume.  For this reason the content of your resume must be clear and targeted directly to the type of job you are applying for. 

A sloppy resume with misspellings and grammatical errors will not make a good impression on potential employers.  It's a good idea to have someone with good English skills proofread your resume. 

Your resume should be printed on minimum 20-pound weight paper - white, cream, or light gray. 

How To Write A Resume

The order and content of a resume does not have to be the same for everyone, however, formats are somewhat standardized.  After the heading, it's a good idea to sequence the information on your resume from the most important to the least important with regard to supporting your career objective.  Do not place the word 'resume' at the top of your resume.  It's simply not done.


Anyone reading a resume wants to find information easily and quickly so the heading you use should stand out clearly. The heading should provide your name, address, phone number and email address.    


The objective should be very specific. It should tell a prospective employer the type of work you are currently pursuing.  The rest of your resume should be designed to support your objective effectively.  Don't make a prospective employer guess what you want to do.  If you have several different areas of focus or different objectives, create more than one version of your resume.  Each version of your resume can be slightly different to support its own objective.


The education section will generally come next, however, when you have more professional experience, you may want to put work experience first and education second.

Keep the most recent education first on the list. Include special courses or skills in this section.  

Work and Experience

If at all possible, use relevant experience to support your objective.  For each entry give the job title, name and location (city and state) of employer, dates of employment (month / year) and a concise description of your accomplishments.  Use phrases; not complete sentences.

Work and experience should be listed in order of your most recent job.  Omit jobs that lasted only a few weeks or those that add nothing to your attractiveness as an employee.  Your experience does not have to be paid to be relevant.  This allows you to include any experience where you learned or demonstrated skills, knowledge or abilities that are related to the type of job you are seeking.  Try to focus on what you did that required maturity and responsibility.

Certifications and Licensure

If you have a certification or licensure (i.e., Teaching Certification, Engineer in Training, etc.) that is relevant to your career objective, include a "Certifications" or "Licensure" heading and give this information.

Activities and Honors

Your activities and honors tell an employer about your interests, motivations and skills (i.e. organizational, leadership, interpersonal, etc.).  Activities and Honors can be one combined section or two separate sections, depending on how many you have, the types you have and how you want to sequence them.  For example, if you have several activities that are related to your career objective, you might list Activities nearer to the top of your resume, while listing Honors nearer to the end.  If you have one honor, or items that could fall in either category, use a combined section. 

It isn't necessary to list hobbies, however, they can provide additional insight on your personality and interests.  Keep in mind though that certain hobbies can also have a negative effect. 


Almost every resume should include a skills section.  The heading might simply read "Skills" and include a list of various skills.  If all the skills you list are of one type (i.e. computer skills, laboratory skills, organizational skills, etc.), then head the section "Computer Skills" or "Laboratory Skills" or Organizational Skills,  etc.

If you have skills in several categories, then head the section "Skills" and include subheadings to organize your categories such as "Computer Skills", "Laboratory Skills", "Organizational Skills", etc.

If your skills are more closely related to your career objective than other parts of your background, it's a good idea to place this section higher on your resume than other less-related sections.


Typically, you shouldn't include references on your resume. You can also leave off the line "references are available upon request" since it's assumed you can provide names if asked.  It's a good idea to prepare a reference list on a separate page from your resume.  Be certain that you have permission from your references before you give their names to potential employers.  It's a good idea to call each reference for permission, then write a thank you note and send them a copy of your resume.  This will serve as a reminder that they may be contacted by a prospective employer as well as provide them with additional information about you when a call does come.

If you are developing a curriculum vitae, it is common to include references since some employers ask for your reference list at the time of application.

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