A résumé is a document that highlights information about you. It is a picture of you and your qualifications. As it is primarily used when seeking employment, it is important that the information highlighted in the résumé be complete, accurate and pertinent to the position that you are seeking. Finally, the résumé that you create should be an expression of who you are, what you know and what you can offer an employer.
Regardless of concentration, background or job objective, the résumé is one of the most important tools in the job search. It is a snapshot of you and your abilities, and is often the first impression that you will make on a potential employer. Therefore, it is crucial that you invest significant time and effort to prepare a thorough and outstanding résumé.
It is important that you keep in mind the purpose of the résumé, which is to get an interview.
By itself, the résumé will not get you a position in a company, but it can get you to the interview stage of the hiring process.
Since the résumé will get you the interview, and the interview will revolve around your background, it is wise to invest a lot of time to make the résumé complete. Additional effort up front will both better your résumé, and make you more conscious of the things you will need to discuss in the interview.
It is very important to understand that you will probably not be present to further explain the content of your résumé to the reader. With this in mind, it is essential that you make the résumé not only complete, but very clear.
There is no right or wrong way to construct a résumé. There is no governing body declaring any standards. Therefore, the content and layout of the résumé are completely up to you. There are, however, more and less effective ways of going about it. At the Career Resource Center, we have done a significant amount of research on résumés and have talked with a number of recruiters, and feel that the "Building Your Résumé" portion of this handout is very effective for most situations.
Once you have started to generate at least a first draft, the staff in the Career Resource Center will be happy to assist you. Do not expect us to write your résumé for you as this defeats the purpose and keeps you from preparing yourself for further stages in the job search process. However, there are a number of books available in the Career Resource Center and in the local libraries on résumé writing.
Both the content and the appearance of the résumé are important. One without the other is generally ineffective. People who focus on the appearance prior to fully developing content usually find that they limit themselves to the confines of the paper, resulting in a less effective résumé. Generally, people find that they produce a higher quality product when they start by focusing on assembling complete content, and work with formatting only after the content is complete.
When starting your résumé, it may be a good idea to simply sit down with a pen and paper to first develop the content. Only use a computer when you feel that you have generated complete and accurate information. This will prevent you from worrying about superficial things such as font sizes and spacing in the early stages of development.
After developing the content of your résumé using pen and paper, go to the online Career Resource Center Résumé Templates to format your résumé. The CRC Résumé Templates have been customized specifically for UB School of Management students. This tool helps you create a professional résumé that is both easy-to-read and attractive to top recruiters.
Note: The Career Resource Center requires and recommends that students use these customized résumé templates only, and does not recommend use of any other résumé templates
This information focuses on a hard copy paper résumé. Click here for information on electronic résumés.
We have included information on both the content and the formatting for each section. Because complete content is so critical, only address the "Format" portions after you have addressed the "Content" portion for all sections.
It is necessary to include all of the information that an employer would need to contact you. This includes your mailing address (both home and school if applicable), home telephone and email. The presence of the email address not only provides a recruiter with a way to contact you, but also indicates that you are familiar with current technologies.
There are a number of different formats that you can use to present this information. Be sure to make your name stand out either by separating it from the other information, or altering the font type or size. Make sure the mailing and telephone information is easy to locate. This section is usually found at the very top of the résumé.
This is a statement of your career objective. Write a strong and positive statement of your career and job objective, focusing on your strengths and how you can add value to a potential employer. When creating your objective, use clear and concise language. Try to avoid writing an objective that states the obvious or is too general. There are three different ways to structure the objective, and there are pros and cons to each:
It is important that you do not use the space for the objective to say "nothing." For example, although the following statement sounds nice, it really does not say anything that isn’t already assumed by the reader.
Likewise, a statement where you try to leave yourself open for all available positions can indicate a lack of career direction or focus. For example, the following statement does not give the reader a good idea of what you would best be suited to do in an organization.
If you include an "objective" or "summary," state it in terms of what you can contribute to the company, not what you expect from the company.
The "objective" or "summary" section, if included, generally appears directly beneath the personal information. A simple sentence or two is adequate; a paragraph is neither necessary nor recommended.
A new or recent graduate will likely wish to emphasize education. Placing this section near the top of the résumé will help to accomplish that. Be sure to include the following information:
This section is generally the first section beneath the personal information and objective for recent graduates. It may be laid out in a number of ways, but the key considerations are:
The “experience” section of your résumé is one of the most important. The reader will review this section to see whether you have skills necessary to do the job. Often, candidates focus too much on their job responsibilities and daily tasks rather than on their accomplishments and on the skills used or demonstrated on the job. This is valid, but not necessarily the best method for conveying this information. The CRC has identified five methods that you can use to add effectiveness to your experience content. These methods can be used both separately and in combination for each bullet.
Remember - there is no single right or wrong approach to presenting your experience. You simply should do whatever most positively highlights your strengths and minimizes your weaknesses.
1. Focus on skills.
One of the most effective methods of expressing your experience is to focus on the skills that you applied at each place of employment and what you accomplished with them. Be sure to focus on the business aspect of what you did
Tasks are usually job specific. Skills are usually job transferable.
On the other hand, a skills-oriented statement is much more effective and adds considerable value to your résumé. Here are two examples of skills-oriented statements.
2. Show the results.
You can spotlight your capabilities by selecting and expanding on specific achievements and showing the results of your work where possible. (See Appendix 1.)
When you illustrate a specific achievement, make sure it is clear how you accomplished it. Show exactly what you did to make it happen Try to quantify the results. If you increased sales, try to show a percentage or dollar amount increase. Numbers make it easier for the reader to visualize your abilities
Using skills and results-oriented statements are usually the most effective ways to convey an experience. However, students with little experience or non-business experience often find it difficult to identify a sufficient number of work-related skills and results that they achieved in their previous jobs. Those students can also use one of the following recommendations to boost the experience section.
3. Explain the purpose
Some jobs do not require the application of complex skills or in-depth knowledge. Sometimes, it may be difficult to identify the direct impact or results of your work. If this is the case, you may instead want to concentrate on explaining the purpose of particular tasks. Mentioning an important purpose will help to add significance to less complex, seemingly trivial activities.
4. Add Depth
You can add depth to your statements by showing that you assisted in an important project. A different way to do so is to illustrate that you reported directly to a highly ranked manager. Show that you were the part of something that resulted in a big impact or made a difference
5. Add Breadth
Conveying volume, complexity or variety of job activities will add breadth to your bullet points. Expand your statements by showing that you dealt with different situations, people or problems
Information that is expected for each position is:
Approach this section the same way as the experience section. It can be incorporated into the experience section or developed as its own as you see fit.
Activities such as organizations and clubs (both in and outside of school), and sports or civic organizations can be used to show leadership, teamwork, involvement or other relevant and desirable characteristics. Information on outside activities also shows "well-roundedness". This is particularly important for less experienced underclassmen for use in filling out their experience section.
This can be a simple listing, or it can be developed similar to the employment section. At the very least, include the organization, position held and dates of involvement. Expand on them if they will further demonstrate relevant and beneficial characteristics.
As we are all very dependent on technology, it is very important that computer skills be included on your résumé so employers understand your capabilities. Consider all of the programs you know how to use and feel would be of value to an employer. Things that are commonly included are:
(Note: Avoid version/release numbers and outdated software and equipment unless relevant to the position sought.)
A simple listing is acceptable. Depending on the overall number of inclusions, a separation technique such as “bulleting” may enhance readability. This section can appear virtually anywhere on a résumé. If the position you are seeking is not very technical in nature, or if you do not have many applications to include, this section may be near the bottom of the page. If you are applying for a position that is more technical, this may be listed directly beneath the education section depending on the relevance of your experience.
Any time that you have excelled and have been recognized by your superiors or peers, it shows that you have a high level of achievement, and it is a good idea to include this information on your résumé. Consider any awards that you have received, such as Employee of the Month, Top Sales, Academic Scholarships, Sports Scholarships or Awards, and Civic Recognition (Eagle Scout, Good Neighbor, etc.) Do not include awards that date back a long time unless you feel they are particularly significant to your desired employment.
Awards and honors may be a separate section, or they may be nested in other sections. For example, scholarship information may be included in the education section, and employer recognition could be included in the work experience section. It is common to make these awards stand out by italicizing the information. If you choose to create a separate section for awards and honors, a simple reverse chronological listing is acceptable. Be sure to include the name of the award, the date received, and the organization it was received through.
References are assumed to be available; therefore, it is not necessary to state this. Although it is acceptable to state this on the résumé, you should not include a listing of your references on your résumé. If you begin to run out of space on your résumé, eliminating this statement is one of the easiest ways to make more room.
The best way to handle references is to have them printed on matching bond paper, with the same header as your résumé, and to take them with you to the interview. Only provide them if they are requested, but have them ready.
The general appearance of the employment résumé is very important to your job hunting campaign. Think of the résumé as an extension of you. If it is neat, crisp, and well organized, it will suggest to the employer that you are someone who is careful and concerned about the quality of your work. A sloppy, disorganized résumé, conversely, will create an unfavorable impression with prospective employers and greatly hinder, if not ruin, your employment efforts. It is imperative, therefore, that you be attentive to the general appearance of your résumé document, and that you take the necessary steps to make a favorable impression.
Although all of this may seem like basic advice, a high percentage of résumés do not meet these simple standards. The extra effort can have substantial payoff for your job hunt.