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All About Resumes

A high-quality resume is important in getting most jobs, so you
should spend quite a bit of effort in making yours an outstanding one.
At the same time, you should realize that the resume is only one part
of the overall job-hunting process, and is not by itself the "magic bullet."

The great majority of employers (especially in large companies), do not carefully study the many resumes that come across their desk.  Instead, they quickly glance through the resumes (perhaps two or three a minute!) to eliminate as many people as possible and get down to a much smaller number they would like to interview.

You will need to prepare and submit a well-crafted resume that catches the attention and interest of the employer and gets you past "stage one" of the hiring process.  How your resume should look and what it should say is described and discussed below.


The paper itself should help make your resume stand out from the rest.  This includes

  • 24 pound weight (not 18 or 20)

  • Completely smooth, with  no special texture

  • Something other than white.  Very light tan or light canary are good.  Any other colors may be distracting and hard to photocopy or scan if the company wishes to do so

Type Style

  • Recommend "sans-serif" font, such as Verdana, Helvetica, Tahoma, Arial

  • Use same type of font throughout.  12-point size is optimal for text

  • Don't use italics or underlining.  Bolded 12-point can be used for section headings, bolded 16 or 18-point for main (top of page) header

Page Format

  • If at all possible, entire resume should be on a single page, including a good amount of white space on all sides, and between the text elements themselves.

  • The main heading (your name, telephone number with area code, and e-mail address) should be centered at the top of the page.  All other material should be flush to the left, except possibly a short sentence at the bottom, centered to visually match the centered heading.

What to Leave Out

  • Don't include words or phrases that are obvious or redundant, such as "Resume of....," "Name," "Available for Interview," etc.  "References Provided on Request" is an old cliche .  Either omit it or rephrase in a more conversational way, such as "I'll be glad to provide full references on request."

  • Don't include any photos, graphic designs, cute sayings or personal mottos

  • Leave out all personal information including your home address, Social Security number, family composition, group memberships, hobbies or other pastimes (unless these are directly relevant to the job)

Types of Resumes

There are two major types of resumes:

  • One Size Fits All
  • Targeted

The "One Size Fits All" resume is well-known for its simplicity and ease of preparation.  You just compose it once, send it to a lot of potential employers, and wait for the replies NOT to come back (except possibly for a form letter that reads something like "We've received your resume and will let you know if anything shows up between now and the next century.  Have a great afternoon."

"Targeted" resumes, on the other hand, are carefully aimed at applying for a single specific job or type of job.  Targeted resumes take more time and effort, but they have a much greater chance of drawing favorable attention during the 20- or  30-second scan they get from the busy reader.

Preparing Targeted Resumes

First, learn as much as you can about the company and the specific job you're applying for, and use this information to tailor your resume.

One caution:  Don't simply parrot back the job description or required abilities by using essentially the same words as in the announcement (since most employers will easily see through this copy-cat approach).  Instead, use your own words and phrasing to describe what significant things you have accomplished in similar positions and/or will be able to accomplish in this position.

Targeted resumes are often arranged in this section-by-section order:

  • Heading - Name, phone number, and e-mail address

  • Short purpose statement - Position you're applying for, together with a short and confident description of your own background and experience and how this will enable you to do an excellent job in this particular position.

  • Prior experience in the specific area you're applying for - Cite companies worked for, general type (or title) of your position, and from-to dates of employment.  Under each, briefly describe your duties and your specific accomplishments in carrying them out.  Use reverse chronological order (most recent employment first).

  • Other employment experience -  You don't need to put down each job you've ever had, but include those that show a pattern of longevity (several years at the same job) and/or significant effort on your part that resulted in tangible benefits to the company.  If there are years/periods when you were not working, don't include this in your resume, but save for explaining during the interview (if the issue comes up).  

  • Education -  List most recent education first, showing dates, degrees awarded or completion certificates obtained.  Include high school attendance/graduation as appropriate, but leave out grade school information.  Include GED completion if relevant, as well as any technical training programs.

  • Very short ending statement, something along the lines of "Thank you for considering me for this position, and I'll be glad to provide any further information that might be helpful in this regard."

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