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What is an Effective Resume?

An effective resume gets you an interview, not a job!

  • Your resume is your marketing tool – it is a concise document that presents your most relevant and positive credentials for employment and internship opportunities, admission to graduate school, or other professional purpose.
  • An employer will spend less than 30-seconds reviewing your resume (typically a 5-10 second scan); therefore, the content of your resume must be clear, concise, and targeted to the type of job for which you are applying.
  • New college graduates should have a one-page resume unless you have extensive experience that causes you to have a two-page resume. Resumes should never be more than two pages. If your experience justifies a two-page resume, keep in mind that the most important information should be contained on the first page, and that the second page should include your name and page number, in case the pages become separated once they are out of your hands.
  • Never staple or clip a two-page resume! If your resume contains even one typo or grammatical error, it will probably jump off the page to an employer. This is a way to weed you out of a candidate pool. Your resume may be the only chance you get to make an impression, so make a positive one!

    Important Qualities of Any Resume

    Think Relevance. What you say on your resume should relate to your job objective or qualifications summary. Include computer skills, terminology from the field to which you’re applying, and technical skills.

    Limit resume to one page. Most of the time, recent college graduates do not have the experience to justify a two-page resume. If a second page is needed, put the most important information on the first page.

    Include a heading at the top of the second page to help the employer identify that this information is a continuation from page 1: “First name, Last name, Page 2 of 2” Make sure your resume is organized and neat. It should contain NO spelling and/or grammatical errors.

    Use action words. Avoid passive or weak phrases. Use a thesaurus to assist you. Be consistent with display techniques, punctuation, and verb tense.

    Be honest. Don’t exaggerate or make up job titles; it is a good idea to contact your employer to verify that the title is appropriate. Don’t make up information. You may be asked to expand on this information in an interview.

    Avoid abbreviations. An employer may have the perception if you’re willing to use “short cuts” on your resume, you may take short cuts on the job.

    Avoid controversy. For example, if you’re applying for a job to work with a Republican senator, but your previous experience has been working with the College Democrats, find another way to phrase the information (“managed a campus political organization”). Fraternity or sorority memberships can be controversial. If just a member, may not want to list it. If you held an office or served on different committees, you may want to include it.

    Do not include high school information.

    Do not include references on your resume. They should always be listed on a separate page. Only submit references if requested to do so by an employer.

    Your resume should look professional. Use white, cream, or gray resume paper. Don’t include fancy fonts, or unusual bullets. Use a laser printer if at all possible.

    Your resume should not contain any personal information! Social security number, marital status, number of children, sexual orientation, age, religion, gender, and personal photographs should not be included. It is important to include certain licenses or certificates you have obtained, but never include your license or certificate numbers on your resume – if this information ends up in the wrong hands, it could be a source for identity theft.

    Font size: 10 (minimum), 12 (maximum); Headings may be larger. Serif fonts have “tails” (Times New Roman). San Serif fonts do not have “tails” (Arial). Use only San Serif fonts on electronic resumes – they do not have “tails” that bleed and make it difficult to read/scan.

    Margins: 1 inch (ideal); inch (minimum)