How To Make An Effective Resume

Elizabeth Enck

Elizabeth Enck

Career Counselor

As you begin to apply for jobs it's inevitable that you will be asked to provide a resume. The resume serves a few purposes. The first purpose of a resume is to provide information. This document allows you to highlight your education, experience and skills. Employers will look at this information to help them determine if you are qualified for the position. Second, the resume is often a first impression of you. Many times you are applying to jobs and have never met the hiring manager or anyone in human resources. It’s important to keep in mind that first impressions are important and make sure your resume is professional and error free. If you don’t put time into your resume the employer may assume that you wouldn’t put time into the job. Finally, keep in mind that the resume itself doesn’t get you hired. The resume gets you an interview. You want to provide enough information for the employer to see that you are qualified and want to learn more about you. The interview will help them to see if you are a good fit for the position and organization. In this article I will discuss what important information to include so your resume gets you noticed.

Getting Started

Starting to write your resume can feel overwhelming. Instead of trying to start plugging information into a resume format, it can be helpful to start by just getting information and experience down on paper. I call this an Experience List. Think back to past jobs, volunteer experience, activities or involvement in groups or associations, and your education. Don’t worry about wording things perfectly. Just start to write down position titles, employers, dates and some descriptions of what you have done. Once you have this down you can start to organize it and format it into a resume.

Contact Information

The first part of your resume should always include your contact information. This would be your name (which should be the largest font on your resume), address, phone number and email address. If you are posting your resume online where people other than the employer can see it you should leave off your home address for safety and privacy. Remember that putting your contact information on your resume means employers will be using it. Make sure your voicemail is a professional message and that you have an email that you wouldn’t be embarrassed about. If your email is dragonslayer@gmail.com it’s probably not the best one to use. If you need to you can create a new email address for free through Google, Yahoo or other sites. Just make sure you check it on a regular basis. You also want to leave off any personal information such as your social security number, birth date, gender, marital status, photo, etc.

Objective/Summary

Some people choose to include an objective or summary on their resume. If you choose to include one of these it would come after your contact information. An objective is a short phrase stating what type of position you are looking for. It is optional to include this and if you need space on your resume you may want to leave it off. You may want to include a summary instead, which can provide the highlights of your resume to an employer. This will be one of the first things an employer would see and would include a brief description of your experience and qualifications. Think about including the first thing you would want an employer to know about you.

Experience

Your experience section is the most important part of your resume. Employers want to see what experience you have in order to see if you are qualified for the position. For this section you want to include previous jobs and other relevant experience. Each listing should include your position or job title, name of employer, city and state and dates of employment (typically month and year). You then want to use bullet points to write phrases beginning with action verbs to discuss your achievements and describe what you did in that role. Avoid using personal pronouns such as I, me, or my.

It’s important to think about what the employer is looking for and make sure to mention anything relevant to that position in your resume. You don’t have to include everything that you did in your job. Choose to talk about the parts of your job that are most relevant to what you are currently applying for. This also means that you may need to tailor and change your resume for different positions you are applying to.

Skills

If you have skills you want to highlight such as computer, technical, or equipment skills you may want to have a separate skills section. Avoid “soft” skills such as communication or organization skills. This section should be for more technical skills that are relevant to the positions you will be applying to. Use job postings to get a good idea about what skills the employer is looking for.

Education

Your education section should list your highest level of education first and then any relevant previous degrees or diplomas. You also want to make sure to include relevant training, certifications or licenses.

References

Although references are a part of your application, you don’t need to list them on the resume itself. It’s best to create a resume page separate from your resume. You can list the same contact information at the top of the page and then provide full contact information for 3-4 references. You may also submit references on a job application when applying.

These are the basic sections of a resume. You may find that you need to add new ones to best showcase your experience. Some people include sections such as Volunteer Experience or Community Service, Professional Development, etc. The great thing about resumes is that you can tailor them to best highlight and fit your experience. Don’t feel like your resume needs to look like someone else’s. You want to stand out!

About The Author

Elizabeth Enck
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Elizabeth Enck

Elizabeth Enck was a career counselor at The University Of Tennessee for 6 years. She worked with undergraduate, graduate students, and alumni with their career planning and job searching. This included providing assistance with resumes and cover letters, interviewing including conducting practice interviews, and guidance through the job search process. She has a Master’s Degree in Counseling with an emphasis on career counseling.

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