Your resume is a summary of your qualifications. You can think of it as an expanded business card. You use a business card to introduce yourself, or to leave behind as a reminder of who you are, and what you represent. In this case, the product you are representing is you!

Many organizations receive hundreds of resumes for a posted job openings; therefore, most interviewers spend about 30 seconds (or less) skimming over the average resume. In that brief time, your resume must "hit home" with the employer by showcasing how your skills and experiences qualify you to be considered for the job.

A resume will be most effective when it is focused. When you are applying for a specific position, use the job title as your objective. Then, if your resume is put in a file or stack with multiple resumes, the employer will be able to see quickly the position for which you are applying. (If you are attending a job fair, you can take some resumes with no objective or a more general objective at the top. A good strategy for job fairs, however, is to research companies ahead of time that will be at the job fair to see what types of positions they have open. You then can bring a resume that is tailored for each position of interest.)

Depending on the job for which you're applying, you can choose either a chronological or a functional format. A chronological resume is an arrangement of your qualifying experiences and training listed in reverse chronological order. A chronological format is most effective when you are applying for a position that is similar or directly related to work you have done previously.

A functional resume highlights your skills and qualifications for a position regardless of the time of occurrence. In a functional resume, you make use of the skills and duties from all of your work history (paid and/or volunteer), education and leisure activities which relate to and qualify you for the job objective. Use the functional format if you do not have specific work experience related to the job you want and/or you feel it will best showcase your skills.

Place your name, address, phone, e-mail, and LinkedIn URL at the top of your resume. Make sure that both your email address and that your voice mail message give a professional image.

The purpose of this section is to gain the employer’s attention by highlighting some of your key qualifications for the position at the top of your resume. This section can include such things as the amount of relevant experience; key accomplishments and transferable skills; content skills you have (for example knowledge of specific software programs, computer languages, foreign languages, etc.); and personal skills (personality traits such as hardworking, honest, flexible, loyal, etc.). Example:

Objective: Office Manager

Highlights of Qualifications

Two years’ experience supervising a staff of six student workers.

Strong organization and planning skills.

Able to handle multiple responsibilities in a busy environment.

Excellent record of dependability and thoroughness in accomplishing tasks.

Experienced in the use of computer programs including Microsoft Office and QuickBooks.

Generally, your education section should go under your “Highlights of Qualifications” section if it is your most important qualification to date for the job for which you are applying or if possession of a requisite degree (or degrees) is a requirement for your job target. However, as your education recedes in time, it will also recede as a factor in your current qualifications.

It is not necessary for college graduates to indicate the high school attended, unless there is some aspect of that experience that particularly supports your objective (such as applying for a coaching position at a school you attended). Include degree(s) received, academic major(s) and/or areas of concentration. Job applicants with limited work experience may also want to mention such things as special academic honors, a high GPA, student activities, etc.

To begin, write 10-20 skill statements that show your qualifications for the job you are targeting in your objective (or at least prove that you can learn how to do the job quickly). Regardless of which resume format you are using, you will attract employers by describing the skills you have that will address their need. Ultimately, the results that you can produce are the only thing that interests an employer. The following bulleted items are illustrations of skill statements that demonstrate quantified and specific results.

Initiated a new training program for resident assistants that increased their ability to identify freshmen students experiencing severe adjustment issues. After one year, there was a 15% increase in freshmen retention. Restructured lesson plans and developed a parent participation strategy that resulted in approximately 20% more parents attending the reading program with their at-risk children. Designed and implemented a new method of recruiting student volunteers, resulting in more enthusiasm and commitment from the students participating in a phone-a-thon fundraiser.

Each statement starts with a transferable skill name: initiated, restructured, designed and implemented (Here is a large list of transferable skill names that you can pick from). These words connote action. Use past tense for previous activities, experiences or acquired skills. Use present tense to refer to ongoing or current activities. The skill statement then describes how the skill was used and, most importantly, what result was achieved. While it is not always possible to quantify results, strive to give at least a subjective description of the results you produced.

Once you have written your skill statements, you are ready to begin a resume draft by placing those skills in the chosen format. For a chronological resume, your skill statements will go into a section entitled “Experience,” “Work Experience” or “Professional Experience.”

For a functional resume, you can use the title “Experience,” “Professional Experience” or “Relevant Experience.” If you are using a functional format you will also want to have a “Work History” section to provide the names of the companies for which you have worked, where they were located, the job titles you held, and the dates you worked at each company.

Include other information only if it is relevant to your job target. Other factors that can be included are professional memberships, publications, special honors, qualifying licenses, interests, volunteer activities, etc. (For your first resume, you may need to include some of this type of experience to fill up the resume page. As you gain more work experience, you can edit out the less relevant information.)

When editing your resume, remember that there should be a reason for everything you include; organize information in descending order of importance; use correct spelling (have someone proofread your final copy even if you are a good speller); do not abbreviate; avoid jargon, and, as a general rule, limit your resume to one page as a new college graduate.

Format your resume so it is visually appealing. Highlight key information by using boldfaced type or CAPITALIZING or underlining it. Bullets (large dots) are effective in drawing the employer's attention and eye to competencies, accomplishments and/ or achievements. Use white space for eye appeal and easy reading. Use a 11 or 12 point font so that it is easily readable by employers.

Persevere! Writing a good resume can be challenging and time-consuming, but it will pay off for you. As you write your skill statements, you are not only working on your resume, but you are also preparing yourself for future interviews. Developing your resume takes you through the essential process of learning how to connect your education and experience with prospective employers’ needs.

© Article copyright by Kevin and Kay Marie Brennfleck, All rights reserved. The above information is intended for personal use only. No commercial use of this information is authorized without written permission.