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Review the Parts of a Résumé

Contact Information (Header)

Must include name, mailing address, both campus and permanent if you are still here, phone and email.  It is a good idea to have a professional email address.  If you list your cell phone number for your job/internship search, be sure that you  don't answer it during a party or other loud place.

Play around with the format until you find one that pleases you. 

Sample header #1

Arnold Smith

184 Baldwin Road, Williamston, MA 04276
CS Box XXXX The College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA 23187
Home: (413) 423-xxxx~ Cell: (413) 662-xxxxx
Email: arnold.smith@jobwanted.com

Sample header #2

 

CS Box XXXX,
The College of William and Mary
Williamsburg, VA 23187
(757)-221-XXXX

Arnold Smith

Email: Arnold.Smith@jobwanted.com

184 Baldwin Road,
Williamston, MA 04276
(413)-662-xxxx

Sample header #3

 

Daniel Smith

CS Unit 0000, P.O. Box 8793   
Williamsburg, VA 23186-0000
(757) 221-xxxx xxxxxx@wm.edu                 

3414 W. Collet Avenue
Richmond, VA 23235
(804) 346-xxxxx

 

Job Objective

More students agonize about whether or not to include a job objective than about anything else on a resume. If you do choose to use one, there is little doubt that most employers prefer a carefully worded, targeted job objective; it shows that you have focus.

Samples

"To secure a position as a computer programmer, analyzer, or designer."

"Because of past involvement in environmental research and land use policy, I am seeking a market research position with a firm managing natural resources."

Contrast the examples above with the following example:

"To secure a position that would utilize my leadership abilities."

This job objective doesn't add anything to the resume and may even detract. Unless a job objective gives an employer a clear impression of the type of position you are seeking, it may be best to explain your objective in the cover letter. This way you can target it to the position you are applying for. Another tactic is to have different job objectives for different career fields. Instead of trying to cover all bases with one statement, you can slant your objective towards a particular position. Thanks to word processing, this is a relatively easy solution.

Education

B.A. SOCIOLOGY Minor: French May 2002

The College of William and Mary; Williamsburg, VA

GPA: 3.32/4.0

- exposure to computer, cartography, surveying
- one week internship in Quebec City; took aerial photos, conversed in French

A.A. LIBERAL STUDIES June 2000
Berkshire Community College Pittsfield, MA

It is common practice for recent college graduates to start their resumes with an Education section. Like many other resume writing rules, there is nothing set in concrete which dictates that Education must come First. It just works out best for many students to highlight academic accomplishments at the outset to catch an employer's eye. As you will note from the samples cited above, a number of items can logically be included in the Education section.

Courses: If you list specific courses, be sure that they are courses which will be of interest to an employer. A sampling of courses from every academic discipline is not necessary; employers will assume that The College of William and Mary has offered you a well-rounded education. If you really feel it is important to include a list of your courses (there are cases where it is appropriate, particularly when developing a resume for an internship) then list courses that will be important to the employer or show a special academic focus that is not obvious from your degree title.

G.P.A.: Some employers are very interested in your grades, while others are not so interested. Deciding whether or not to include your G.P.A. will depend on your past performance. Keep in mind that you should always present your accomplishments in their best possible light. G.P.A. is an educational accomplishment; however, there isn't a rule saying that only your overall G.P.A. can be placed on your resume. Often, if grades from the freshman year are removed, G.P.A. improves. Feel free to list your G.P.A. in different ways if it improves your presentation; just be sure to mention how you arrived at your tally. For example:

G.P.A. 3.5 from a 4.0 scale during the last four semesters

Also, there is this unwritten rule that says if your G.P.A. is not over a 3.0 then it is not worth mentioning. HOWEVER, most employers would be impressed by someone who received a 2.9 G.P.A. while working a 30 hour job or being a single parent, for instance.If you are proud of your G.P.A., then put it on your resume, even if it is a 2.7.

G.P.A. 3.1 in major

High School: There is nothing wrong with stating where you went to high school and listing singular achievements or achievements that show a pattern  Showing high school information on your resume generally more appropriate if you are still a Freshman or Sophomore.  If you organized a major conference or raised money for a charitable cause, these activities may bring skills to an employer's attention which are not prominently displayed elsewhere on your resume. Also, there is some advantage to indicating a longstanding commitment to an interest, such as journalism, by tracing that interest back to high school. For many, however, high school was a pretty standard event and it would be better to leave it off. It is assumed that if you made it to college, then you probably made it through high school and have more recent, relevant experience.

Jargon is something to avoid at all costs on a resume. Recipient of the John Christopher Megabucks scholarship may mean a lot to you but will mean little to an employer unless there is some explanation included. Beware of slipping in abbreviations which might be household words at your college but foreign to employers.

Other Information: Some students cite honors and awards, academic experiences off campus, proficiency in languages, computer skills and a line indicating the % of college cost financed through employment.

As an undergraduate, your education is usually the most interesting thing about you and should be listed right after your Contact section.

  • List the full name of your college, including city and state
  • List the month and year you will graduate.  If this date is in the future, employers will understand.
  • List your full degree and major(s).  List your minor if it is relevant to this job.
  • Generally speaking, list your GPA.
    • Most employers are more interested in the practical experience you are bringing to the table, so don't worry if your GPA is less than spectacular, especially if you can demonstrate lots of useful experience.
    • Some employers require a high GPA, research your career field to see how important it is to show a good GPA
    • If your GPA is quite low, consider leaving it off the resume altogether, unless yours is a career field that requires a good GPA, such as Investment Banking.
    • Some W&M students list their GPA in their major first, then list the overall GPA; this is helps de-emphasize the GER slump.
Honors and Awards

Sample

G.P.A. 3.4; Dean's List five semesters

John Christopher Megabucks Scholarship finalist: one of 20 students to receive the highest scholarship honor award of the College, based on academic achievement, campus leadership and community service.

Students who have been the recipients of numerous honors and awards often have a tendency to put everything down on a resume. Generally speaking, employers are much more interested in the practical experiences you have to offer.  It is better to select honors and awards which present a composite picture of your strengths than to list all of your triumphs. For example, nominated to Who's Who in America may not have much of an impact, however, indicating that you were the recipient of the Faculty Scholar, an award given to the top three students in your major, will cause an employer to take notice.

Experiences

Samples

RELEVANT EXPERIENCE
Senior Project, Colby College, Waterville, ME (Jan. 2010)
- Analyzed the data flow of the College's maintenance department, implemented a procedure that increased accuracy by 20% 
- Created a database to handle an inventory of over 2200 items as well as all invoices for a maintenance department (up to 50 daily)

OTHER EXPERIENCE
Migrant Tutorial Outreach Intern, Boston, MA
- Tutored junior and senior high school students from migrant farming families.
- Assessed academic subjects that needed to be strengthened, increasing students' academic competency
- Assisted students on an individual basis.
- Coordinated subject matter with students' teacher. Spring 2010

Make your descriptions specific and succinct.  Talk about outcomes wherever you can. 

Whether you lead with your position title or the name of the organization is a matter of preference.  Avoid leading your descriptions with dates.   Try to group your experiences with your most relevant experiences being listed on top in a section entitled Related Experience. Another alternative would be to create sub-categories like Counseling Experience or Leadership Experience. You may find that grouping jobs by functional categories will aid you in organizing your resume. It will also make it easy for the employer to read your resume. Employers should be able to follow a pleasing format which concisely highlights your skills, abilities and accomplishments.

Finally, have a friend read your resume and ask him or her to tell you the highlights that stood out in their mind. Hopefully, it will be the points you want to have stand out, otherwise you may have to restructure your resume. Here are some general points to keep in mind:

How far back should I go in terms of listing past jobs?
Usually listing 3 or 4 jobs should suffice. If you did something back in high school which has a bearing on your future aspirations for employment, list the job. For the most part, though, high school jobs can be eliminated in place of college employment.

Should I differentiate between paid and non-paid employment?
Most employers are not as concerned about what you were paid as they are about how much responsibility you held and what you accomplished, so it is quite appropriate to place your internship(s) under this section. You could also place college activities under this section, particularly if you had a leadership or a management role.

What should I do about all of those odd jobs which indicate my willingness to work hard?
Again, assess the skills that you gained in those jobs and how they might relate to the position for which you are applying. It may not be necessary to list all jobs. Some students elect to lump together a variety of jobs in a summary statement that suggests that you have worked steadily throughout college. A strong work ethic is important to some employers.

Should the Experience always follow Education on the resume?
Lead with your strengths! If your past work closely relates to the employment you now seek, by all means push the experience section to the top of your resume. Similarly, if you are weak on the academic side but have a surplus of good work experiences, consider reversing the order of your presentation to lead with work.

How should I present my accomplishments or work-related responsibilities?
Be sure to convey any information that can give an employer a better understanding of the depth of your involvement at work. Did you supervise others? How many? Were you responsible for certain projects? Did you gain skills that are appropriate to the employer? Were you promoted? Did you work there for several years? Did you work two jobs at once? Where appropriate, quantify and don't be concerned with complete sentences. Write your statements in quick phrases that begin with action verbs. For example:

- Designed and wrote a brochure and handbook explaining the hospital's volunteer program
- Recruited student volunteers by visiting junior and senior high schools

 

Activities

Sample

Leadership and Management Activities

President (March 2002-2004) Vice President (March 2009-2010) Student Government, The College of William and Mary

- Reviewed budget proposals and allocated $140,000 to thirty student organizations
- Restructured the investment patterns of student senate funds
- Communicated student issues to the Board of Visitors
- Directed an eight-member executive committee on issues relevant to campus
- Met with College administration and faculty to address student concerns

Overseas Semester in International Management, Fall 2009
- Met with corporate executives and government officials to discuss German managerial practices as compared to those existing in the United States

For some, a listing of activities may take precedence over job experience or education. The placement of this category on your resume depends upon how much you wish to trumpet your extracurricular activities versus your other involvements. If you used relevant skills in this activity, put it up in the Experience section!

Activities in which you had a leadership role are always worth promoting. Noteworthy athletic accomplishments or responsible student government posts merit inclusion. Mere membership in organizations is not always noteworthy, so be selective about the memberships you list. Being elected co-chairperson of the Winter Carnival Committee may be significant, however past membership on that Committee may be extraneous information. Keep asking yourself: What am I trying to convey to a prospective employer? Do the activities in any way stress my strength in relation to my job target?

Dates often aren't as vital in this section as they are under the work heading. Don't clutter up your resume with an abundance of irrelevant numbers. Also, don't feel obligated to go into lengthy explanations about each activity. If elaboration will help an employer understand the depth of your involvement, then by all means provide necessary details. Lastly, chronological order is not as important.

Sample:

References

'References are available on request'

This is a standard tag line which has lost much of its meaning. No harm done if you elect to scratch this reminder to employers. If checking references is important to an employer, they will ask you for names and addresses whether you indicated this on your resume or not. What you may want to do is to create a separate sheet to your resume that would list only your references. Only provide the reference sheet to employers who ask for it. On the reference sheet include:

Reference name and title
Organization they work for
Address (street, city, state, zip)
Work phone
Home phone (check with your reference First)
Internet address (if appropriate)
A brief statement telling how they know you

You should always ask permission of persons serving as your references before providing their name and contact information to an employer.

References are an important part of your credentials and you should choose your references with care. Have at least three people who can speak on your behalf. Faculty with whom you have studied and supervisors from present and previous employment are the best references to use if you are seeking employment. Faculty are the best references for graduate schools. Do not use any personal references, i.e., friends. If prospective employers request personal references, be prepared to provide them for that particular employer.

If a letter is required, ask only those individuals who know you well enough to write a meaningful reference. Hand them a copy or draft of your resume, this is not only a courtesy but also helps them direct their reference to your own plans. Be sure you tell the reference writer what it is you are seeking -- employment or graduate school. It is always helpful to hand your reference a description of the job or graduate program. It is also helpful to agree upon a date by which your reference writers expect to have completed and returned your references. When possible, be sure you give your reference a good amount of lead time.

Finally, if you have established a credential file with your career center, it is up to you to check it periodically to make sure all your references are in.