How to Write Your First Resume

Figuring out exactly what to say on a resume is often a difficult task for even the most experienced person. When it's your very first resume it all seems very daunting. You can rest easy in knowing that from the entry level receptionist all the way up to the president of the company – every one has at one point in their career had to construct their "first" resume.

Perhaps the most difficult aspect of creating your first resume is the fact that you may not have a whole lot of experience to begin with. After all, you're creating this resume so that you can land a great job. Yet, employers are expecting you to have substantial experience on your resume before they want to hire you. So which comes first, the great job or the great resume? In most cases, it all starts with a great resume.

Before you start on your resume, it's important to sit down and do a quick assessment of yourself. On a blank sheet of paper write down every accomplishment or credential you can think of that applies to the type of position you're looking for. Some of these things might include volunteer experience, educational degrees and awards, school club leadership, and extracurricular activities. Now that you have a starting point to draw from as you construct your resume.

In addition to your name and personal contact info, every good resume includes five basic sections: objective, summary of qualifications, experience, education, and skills.


This section is intended to state the type of position you want. This section can be changed to fit whatever position for which you're applying. Your objective statement can be broad, but it should never be vague. An example of a good objective is: "To obtain a customer service position in a team environment." An example of a bad objective is: "To obtain a job at a great company." Your objective statement shouldn't state the obvious. Rather, it should state that you have some sort of focus around your job search. The objective statement goes at the beginning of a resume.

Summary of Qualifications

This section is where you should summarize the key points of your qualifications that you want to highlight. This is where you should mention things like how many years of experience you have in certain areas of expertise or your expert skills. If someone was looking for a position as a receptionist, for example, they might write something like, "Two years of experience with multi-line phone systems." The summary of qualifications should be brief, bulleted, and comes directly after the objective.


Of all the sections in your resume, this is the most important. Potential employers want to know what you've done in the past. They want to see if you have previous experience that matches or would prepare you for the position for which you are applying. No matter how irrelevant you may think your previous experience is it's important to list something in this section. You want to look like you've been productive up until this point.

This section should include your past employment history, including dates, location, company names, your position (s) held, and your responsibilities in each position. If you don't have a lot of previous work experience you can also list volunteer experience in this section. Just because you weren't paid doesn't discount the experience. When listing accomplishments or responsibilities of your previous positions, always use past tense. For example, "Recruited and managed a team of three volunteers." The experience section should make up the bulk of your resume and should be directly after the summary of qualifications.


This section should highlight any formal education you have. Formal education generally includes college, university, vocational training, and accredited certificate programs. If you are still in college or haven't attended college, you can also include high school information. Each school or degree should be listed separately along with the type of degree or diploma, date of completion (graduation), and major or minor if appropriate. Sometimes it's also beneficial to list your grade point average. If your gpa is particularly low, you may want to omit that information.

If you are lacking experience, the education portion of your resume becomes more important. Those with less work experience may want to also highlight certain courses completed. The education section of a resume doesn't have a set location. Generally, it comes after the experience section, but it can also be at the top of a resume, just after the objective statement. New graduates in particular may want to highlight their education by listing it higher up in their resume.


This section should highlight any special skills that would interest employers. This isn't the place to mention that you're a black belt in Tae kwon do (unless of course, that pertains to the job). You should, however, list things like what types of computer platforms and programs you know, typing speed, programming languages, and spoken languages. These are just a few examples of the types of things to be included in this section. The skills section should be toward the bottom of your resume.

The great thing about structuring your first resume is that once you've done it, you can always tweak it as needed along the path of your career and never have to start from scratch again.

Effective Resume Writing

Your resume is an essential part of your job search, it is your opportunity to make a good impression on employers. For this reason, the information on your resume should be pertinent, easy to read, and attractively laid out.


Your resume needs to provide the reader with a general review of your background. Do not clutter your resume with frivolous details. Some critical areas to include are: identifying data, education, work experience, and student/community activities.

Identifying data: Your name, address, and phone number are mandatory. An e0mail address may also be included. Do not include information such as height, weight, and race as they are not qualifications for the job. Information such as willingness to travel or date of availability could be included in an “Additional Information” category at the end of the resume.

Objective: Although there are different views on whether or not to include a career objective, this information enables the reader to quickly learn about your career interests. Objective guidelines: too specific may be limiting, too broad is meaningless. If you include an objective, think about writing 2-3 versions of your resume, each with a different objective. If you choose to have an objective, it should be no more than two lines. You can also leave the objective off and include it in the cover letter.

Sample Objectives:

“Seeking an entry-level position as an accountant in a public accounting firm.”

“To obtain a position as a financial and investment analyst with a major investment bank or large corporation.”

Education: This information should appear in reverse chronological order, with your most recent education first. Include institution, title of degree, major(s), and any honors awarded. Include your GPA only if it is clearly an asset. If you have questions about including your GPA on your resume, please talk with a Career Services staff member. Any publications, professional licenses, or special training may appear in this section., Information about high school generally should not be included. Finally, the degree to which you financed your own education may also be included here (e.g. 80%)

Work Experience: Usually listed in reverse chronological order (present-past), the information includes the organization’s name, location, position held, dates of employment, and a description of your accomplishments. Focus on areas that relate to the position you are seeking and provide evidence of your ability to assume responsibility, follow through and work hard. IF you have had numerous part-time jobs, highlight the most related experiences. Military experience may be included in this section or in its own category.

Student Organization/Community Activities: Here is your opportunity to show your commitment to your major field and to leadership positions outside of the classroom. This may include social organizations such as sororities, student clubs and volunteer work. Additional categories maybe included to emphasize specific accomplishments, such as “Honors” or “Activities.”

References: Do not list references on your resume. Rather, state on your resume that your references are “Available upon request.” Prepare a separate list of professional references (3-5), including name, title, address and business phone number of each person who agreed to be a reference for you. Remember to include your name at the top of the page. Take your Reference List with you when interviewing.

Targeted Resumes

“Targeting your resume means you are customizing your resume for a particular position, company, different objectives, or career field. For example, you may be interested in both financial banking and accounting, but do not want to use the same resume for both areas of business. This is when targeting your resume is useful. You can tailor your resume to each industry, narrowing the focus of your resume. If you download your resume into Microsoft Word, this is where you can make and save different targeted ones.


The appearance of your resume is critical.

Margins: Keep margins even, using appropriate balance of whitespace to printed word.

Style: Sentences need not be complete. Do not write in first person, singular case (do not use “I”). Use 8.5″ x 11″ bond resume paper of a conservative shade.

Length: Try not to exceed three pages, unless you have significant and relevant experience.


There are two commonly used formats:

Chronological: Presents education, experience, extracurricular activities, skills, and achievements in reverse chronological order under each category. Advantages to this style:

Employers are comfortable with this style because it is used often

It is the easiest way to write

Achievements can be displayed as a direct result of work experiences

Functional: Organizes skills and accomplishments into functional groupings that support your job objective, which should be stated. Advantages:

Draws attention to your accomplishments

Allows for greater flexibility in presenting skills gained through low paying jobs or personal experience

Useful when you have a brief or scattered employment record or when changing career fields

Choosing a Format: If skills and accomplishments coincide with your most significant work experiences, go with the chronological format. If you must pull together certain skills and achievements from a variety of experiences to display your strengths, the functional format may work best for you

No two resumes will look alike; format choice is a personal one. There are two basic questions to answer:

Am I communicating the skills I have attained in a way which will fulfill the needs of the employer?

Is the layout I have chosen the best way for those skills to be presented?


Use language which is as persuasive and descriptive as possible. The use of action words will assist in the development of a concise and businesslike resume

Scannable Resumes

Many employers today use computerized scanning systems to review resumes. It is a good idea when sending your resume to a company that you send two versions: your usual resume and one marked “Scannable” at the top. If you are uncertain or hesitant to send two resumes, the human resources or college recruiting department of most companies should be able to inform you if they utilize resume scanning programs. Below are some ideas to keep in mind when designing your “scannable” resume:

Use only plain, white paper, letter sized (8.5″ x 11″)

Keep your resume to one side only

Laser-printed resumes scan best (not a dot matrix printer)

Do not use underlining or italics, as these do not scan well

Try to keep to a 12 pitch font

Send your resume in a large envelope: do not fold it as words in the folds will not scan properly

Limit your use of bullets and avoid use of graphics

Scanning systems often scan for key words or descriptors, so review your resume to make sure you have appropriately used key words that are relevant to your field

The Electronic Resume

An “electronic resume” can mean several things, but generally refers to a resume that is sent to an employer electronically-either via the internet or email. Some companies’ homepages will include a form that you can complete online and submit, which is a type of electronic resume. Some websites, which are geared towards job search assistance, also include these types of resume services. Many students are also putting together personal homepages which includes a link to their resume. More ideas about using technology with your resume can be found in the Electronic Resume Revolution by Joyce Lain Kennedy.

Organize Resume Writing

Step 1 – Write a rough draft and set aside for a day or two

Step 2 – Edit rough draft, seek feedback from Career Services staff

Step 3 – Make changes to final draft

Step 4 – Have two people proofread for spelling

Step 5 – Take a laser printed copy to a printer to have copies made. Obtain extra paper and matching envelopes for cover letters

Federal Resume Do's and Don'ts

The majority of us have at least taken a stab at writing a regular resume, but writing a federal resume is somewhat different. You can't simply follow the guidelines of writing a regular resume and expect that it will get you that government job. Nowadays, writing the resume on the government resume form is the right protocol; It is also called the OF-612 form. Here are some dos and don'ts when it comes to writing a government resume

Include contact information as requested: Be sure to include full contact information, such as your full name, mailing address and email, reinstatement eligibility if applicable and job series and dates of previous jobs as applicable.

Include educational history in chronological order: Unlike the average resume, you're going to provide your background info and qualifications in chronological rather than reverse chronological order. So, for education, you'll want to start with your high school education, and move on up from there.

List any major studied, and include the total credits earned: It might be appealing to use bullet points for these sections, but watch out; while bullet points are perfect for civilian resumes, they are less applicable in federal job applications.

Be as detailed as possible: Again, while civilian resumes focus on being brief and to the point, government job seekers are going to want to know exactly what you have done, specifically as it relates to education and experience.

List equivalent experience: There may be times when your education doesn't specifically match the qualifications needed for the job, but if you've had experience that will qualify you nonetheless, make sure you list it.

There are a few don'ts when it comes to preparing your government resume, as well.

Don't forget to include specific information as it pertains to the job you are applying to: it's possible to fill in the gaps if you don't have the required education for a specific job by detailing experience, but if specific information is required, make sure to include it.

Don't skimp: write everything with the most details possible.

Don't make the KSA a copy of the resume: Write the KSA as precisely and succinctly as possible

Is Your Resume Selling Yourself or Your Career Short Now?

A resume is not just a piece of paper that is meant to list the jobs you've held or the education you've acquired. It is your introduction to a prospective employer and represents the essence of your career, capabilities, and skill sets. When you are interested in a job you have one opportunity to gain the attention of a prospective employer and it is done when you submit your resume. Within a matter of minutes (or more likely seconds) someone will visually scan the resume and make a determination of your potential candidacy for an open position.

It is possible that the person who will make this assessment of your qualifications may not know the specifics of the job you've applied for beyond the actual job description, and for better or worse that means your resume must stand out in a way that ensures You are able to move beyond that initial screening. To accomplish this goal you must have a well-designed, well-formatted, and well-written resume that markets your skills, experiences, and education in a manner that creates a connection to the open position. Unfortunately most resumes resemble DIY projects that are easily overlooked and quickly discarded by recruiters. When you consider the highly competitive nature of most careers, you cannot afford to have a resume that sells yourself and / or your career short.

Why Consider a Resume Writer

As a professional resume writer with over 12 years of experience, I have just about seen it all with regards to the style and type of resumes that most people try to develop on their own. And just because someone has hired a resume writer it doesn't mean their work is all alike or of the same quality. People generally seek out a resume writer when they are not getting the results or results they hoped to receive. Someone who truly wants to help their customers won't take an existing resume and simply re-type or re-format it. That may be helpful for someone who only wants to have their resume updated but most people need more help than that – as a truly effective resume won't be needed for long because a good resume gets noticed right away. And even though I have potential clients who are in need of a new resume, and they are willing to consider hiring a resume writer, there are still many misconceptions that must be addressed before they become willing to take the next step.

Misconceptions about Resumes

One of the first misconceptions is that a resume writer should have samples and templates available to share with prospective clients. I can describe the method I use but I cannot share resumes I've completed due to a signed confidentiality agreement. More importantly, I don't have samples as every resume I write is custom-developed and designed for each new client. Another misconception is that a resume has to be limited to a single page. What happens is that people who take this approach will use small font sizes and / or try to fill the one page with so much wording that it becomes almost impossible to read, and for most resumes it sells the person's career short. For those candidates who have developed significant career experience it is not unlikely that their resume will consist of two or three pages of content. Of course the caveat is that it should not be pages filled with verbose wording and hard to read paragraphs that have been typed in a small font size. A resume must be easy to read and highlight the best of a person's career, from their skills to their accomplishments.

Reasons for Misconceptions

Another misconception involves the cover letter, which is often written as several paragraphs in length for people who believe a lot is required on that first introductory page. But that defeats the real purpose of a cover letter and minimizes the time a recruiter is likely to spend reading the resume. A cover letter only needs to express interest in a position and generate a desire within the recruiter to read the attached resume. The underlying reason for these misconceptions is due to the unlimited number of online articles and posts written about resumes, along with templates and samples that are easily accessible. Whenever someone begins to sort through all of these resources the end result is often a patchwork of various themes and styles. What makes this worse is that there are few people who can write objectively about their career and the jobs they have held. As an example, I've written resumes for sales professionals and even professional writers. In addition, many people lack exemplary writing skills. It is not uncommon to observe resumes with uneven font sizes and errors with spelling, grammar, punctuation, capitalization, and other mechanical errors. I've also observed verbose wording, jobs written like a standard job description, and clichés (thinking outside of the box, being a team player, etc.).

Making an Investment in Your Career

When you consider all of these aspects of a resume and how easily it can become ineffective, you begin to realize that an investment in a professionally written resume is actually an investment in the development of your career, whether you need a new job now or you are passively looking. Consider this perspective: if you wouldn't walk into an interview in old, worn out clothes then you shouldn't submit a resume in the same condition – anything less than professional looking. A resume represents you and your career, and your potential job prospects depend upon on how well you can convey the best of who you are and what you are able to offer a potential employer. If you are uncomfortable with any aspect of writing a resume it will show up in the final product. In addition, if you cannot convey your thoughts well it will also be reflected in the overall tone that is projected in your resume.

Contacting a Resume Writer

If you decide to contact a resume writer, take time to learn about their background, their approach to resume writing, and their general disposition towards helping their clients. A certificate from a resume institute or something similar does not automatically guarantee they are proficient with formatting and editing. And should a resume writer charge excessive fees and make promises about the results you can expect, also be cautious as the resume is only the first step needed when trying to secure a new job – and it is a very important starting point. If you don't gain an opportunity to speak to someone about your background then your prospects with that employer have been minimized. This underscores the importance of hiring a professional to develop your resume. You cannot afford to wing it on your own, so to speak, especially if the timing for a new job has become critical or you have found it difficult to gain the attention of recruiters and prospective employers. An investment in your resume becomes an investment in your career, one that may result in helping you find and acquire a new job. If you have any hesitation about sending out your current resume, now is the time to contact a professional.

5 Things That Must Be on Your Resume

The first step to getting a job interview is having a stellar resume. Here are 5 things that must be on your resume if you want to get to the first step in landing a new job.

Contact Information

This is the most basic thing, but so many people do not get this right. You need to have your cell phone, email address and LinkedIn address. You also must include your town. This is important because employers want to see where you are located in relation to the job. You can leave your street address off if you do not feel comfortable having this information out on the web.

Dates of Employment

Hiring managers hate job hoppers and will look for gaps in your resume, so alleviate this concern by putting dates of employment in chronological order. If you have gaps in your employment, put what you were doing with a short bullet point.


Always put your education on your resume. If you have a 4-year college degree put Bachelor's degree. Do not just put the name of the college you attended. If you do not have a college degree and have had a few classes, put the name of the college attended and expected graduation date.


Make sure your resume does not look like you cut and pasted job descriptions under your employment. Set yourself apart by putting your work accomplishments in bullet format for each position.


This is something new, but very important, you must put keywords on your resume in order to be found by recruiters and hiring managers. Keywords are the words, titles and requirements of positions you are looking for. For example, if you are applying for a Sales Manager job and the company is requiring you have Sales Training experience for the job, add the keyword Sales Manager and Sales Training on your resume in as many places as possible.

Searching for your dream job can be over whelming and time consuming. One of the best tools for landing your dream job is to have your resume done correctly. It helps open doors to employers and recruiters. Follow our resume tips and get an edge in the job market. Looking for some help with putting your resume together, or need a resume rewrite, purchase a resume review and rewrite from Med Career News and have an experienced recruiter reach out to you today.

Resume Writing Made Simple

Before you get a job offer, you need to have a resume. Your resume is your personal marketing tool to be shortlisted and interviewed for a job.

Always remember to tailor your resume to each job application. This demonstrates the relevance between your skills and experience and the needs of the employer. Identify the requirements and selection criteria of the advertised job vacancy. Highlighting how your skills and experience are relevant to the organization's requirements.

Here are some pointers to good resume writing that will help you make a powerful first impression to your prospective employers.

Personal Details

It should include your name, postal address, contact numbers, email address at the top of the page. Consider using a reasonably conservative email address such as your name. I have seen some job applicants with the email address' little rascal "at hotmail address, prospective employers might not find it appropriate and you might missed your chance of being shortlisted.

Career Objective

Career Objective may not be necessary, however, if you are going to include one make sure it specifically matches the job you are applying for.

Professional Experience

The best resumes are short, concise and informative. Structure your work experience in chronological order with your most recent role first. If you have been working for a number of years, simply list the position title, the organizations you have been working for and the dates of your earlier roles. You should also include the following:

Date of employment : Remember to state the months and years for every position. If there are gaps in your employment, for example furthering of your education, explain this briefly in your resume and if you are shortlisted for an interview, you can elaborate it further to the interviewer.

Company and position title : Provide an overview of the nature of the business and include your designation and the duration you are in the position.

Job Summary : Summarise your responsibilities and achievements concisely for every role, showing your contributions to each of the organizations you have worked for.

Ideally, try to quantify your achievements. For example, increased sales by 35% over the period of one year. Structure and list your responsibilities and achievements in bullet point and introduce the point through action verbs, for example "managed", "delivered" to indicate how accomplished you are.

Skills Achievements / Education Qualifications

List your qualifications in chronological order and include the name of the institution, qualification, graduation date and your course of study. List also your skills and achievements in school as well as your past working accomplishments.

References and referees

It is not necessary to include referees on your resume, however, if you would like to include referees, you need to first ask your referee for permission to list them on your resume.

It is also important to ensure that your resume are free of spelling or grammar mistakes. Always highlight your accomplishments and achievements. Remember, the job search process can take time. Do not give up, the time and effort you take in personalizing your resume will pay off when the right role comes along.

Listing Education on a Resume

So you've gone to the time, expense and effort to complete some aspect of formal education. Or maybe you started to work on this, but then inevitably, life happened … had to take a job to pay the bills, got married, had kids, moved, etc. etc. There's a universe of things that life can throw at you that can interrupt even the most well-intentioned plans for education.

There are some rules of thumb out there when listing education on a resume which should be considered.

1. DON'T list the year you graduated. Unless you are in an education, government, scientific or highly technical field where having a date of graduation is essential, please don't broadcast how old you are by including this information. (Human resource managers do the math!) Sure, if you are an adult learner who just got done with a degree, it's new and important to you just like it is to a person fresh out of high school who immediately went to college. However, resist the temptation to perhaps look younger by listing the graduation date!

With the exception of the four fields mentioned above, the cold, hard truth about education is this:

Most employers really only care whether you graduated … Yes or No.

They don't care what your GPA was, how many times you made it to the Dean's list, what scholarships you landed, and sure, you can list that you graduated as magna cum laude or summa cum laude … but that often isn 't a deciding factor as to whether or not to hire you-it just becomes distracting with all of the scholarships, awards, grade points, etc. Keep it clean and simple.

2. A common mistake recent graduates also make is that they want to list their education FRONT AND CENTER … naturally because this is generally the MOST IMPORTANT THING the person has ever done in their lives to date. However, most human resource managers are really probing for what kinds of experience that the person has, not their education. So the best advice is to put the education later in the résumé rather than near the beginning.

3. DO list all of your education. Some people in this economy are becoming sensitive about feeling 'over-qualified' or 'over-educated.' Think of it this way-employers are in the catbird seat right now … they can afford to hire workers that they couldn't dream of hiring just five years ago. So they are 'cherry-picking' the top candidates and if they can find a top leader in a field who is willing to come work for them, they'll gladly take them. Who wouldn't?

Additionally, if you did not complete a degree, you can indicate: "Program coursework in: (area of ​​study).

Give yourself credit for the time you've put into it, even if the end result isn't what you had hoped for. It shows initiative and a desire to improve your knowledge and skills.

I've had a few clients that I've worked with who had put down a degree name on their résumé, but it turned out that during our consultation, that, well, they never ever REALLY ended up finishing their degree.

This kind of misrepresentation is one of the oldest tricks in the job search book … if this sounds like you, it would be in your best interest to be as forthright as possible about your educational background. Human resource managers are well aware of this trick !!! Quite honestly, the EASIEST background check to do in the world is to verify whether a person graduated or not from a particular institution. Fudging it or trying to convey a different impression is a fast-track to the trashbin for your résumé.

So this is an 'either' or an 'or' situation.

EITHER you got the degree OR you took program coursework in a field.

If you are currently in progress, you can indicate:
Degree name (spelled out, please): area of ​​study (anticipated completion date: ______)

As for the rest of your education, anything else that is not from a formal, accedited institution or career school falls into the 'professional development' category, and can include everything from industry certifications, workshops, trainings, continuing education units (CEUs), conferences, seminars, conventions and the like.

You'll want to call this specific section "Professional Development," which conveys to an employer that you are always actively taking steps to improve and hone your skills so you can do your job better.

Not working right now? Have some resources? Try keeping up on industry trends by registering for a class in your field through a trade association. It's a great way to keep your 'toe in the pool' and stay current.

Keeping your mind engaged while looking for employment is very important. Sometimes, being laid off is the very opportunity needed to open a new chapter for professional enhancement … there simply wasn't time for it previously. You never know where this can lead to! A recent client of mine spent the money to get certified with another industry credential. One of the requirements of the certification was to take an exam. When she showed up at the exam location, she found out that she was the only unemployed person there-everyone else was there through their company. The amazing thing was that she got three highly-qualified job leads by talking to the people there at the exam location … and she was so thrilled that the exam itself was the highlight of the day!