Creating Your Resume


What is a resume?

Different types of resumes

10 Valuable Tips

What you should NOT do

The basic parts of a resume

Examples of a resumes

Helpful links for writing OR posting resumes



Cover Letters

Cover Letters

What is a cover letter

Objective of a cover letter

What you should do

What you should NOT do

Examples of cover letters

Helpful links for writing cover letters


The resume is a selling tool that outlines your skills and experiences so an employer can see, at a glance, how you can contribute to the employer's workplace.

Your resume has to sell you in short order. While you may have all the requirements for a particular position, your resume is a failure if the employer does not instantly come to the conclusion that you "have what it takes." The first hurdle your resume has to pass--whether it ends up in the "consider file" or the "reject file"--may take less than thirty seconds.

The most effective resumes are clearly focused on a specific job title and address the employer's stated requirements for the position. The more you know about the duties and skills required for the job--and organize your resume around these points--the more effective the resume.

You will need information to write a good resume. Not just information about jobs you've held in the past but also information to select the most relevant accomplishments, skills and experience for THIS position. The more you know about the employer and the position, the more you can tailor your resume to fit the job.



The chronological resume is organized by job titles with the most recent position listed first.

Employer Rating:
Employers tend to prefer the chronological resume because the format lists prior positions beginning with the most current. Employers perceive this resume style as fact-based and easily skimmed.

Works Best For:
For job seekers with solid experience and a logical job history, the chronological resume is the most effective. Career changers and those who lack formal on-the-job experience (like new graduates) find this resume the most difficult to write.




The functional resume rearranges employment history into sections that highlight areas of skill and accomplishment.

Employer Rating:
Some employers dislike functional resumes IF they find it difficult to match up skills with actual job titles, level of responsibility and dates of experience. You can, and SHOULD, avoid or minimize this objection by including the company name in the "bullet" describing each accomplishment.

Works Best For:
The functional resume might be thought of as a "problem solving" format. It gives you latitude to "make sense" of your work history and match up skills and accomplishments that might not be obvious to the employer in a traditional chronological format. If any of the descriptions below apply to you, you may want to investigate the functional format:


A resume (chronological or functional) formatted to read well when scanned and searched by optical scanning systems.

Employer Rating:
Some large employers use electronic resume processing systems (or "automated applicant tracking systems") to handle large volumes of resumes. A smaller employer may subscribe to a scanning service that offers them a way to automate this function for their small (or non-existent) human resource department.

Electronic resumes are used by resume banks to match applicant qualifications with employer needs.

The resume is scanned and entered in a database that the personnel department or the hiring manager can search by keyword.

For example, a department manager may search the database for a candidate with

4 years of Teleconference Training or 8 years of JIT (Just-In-Time) Inventory Control.

Not only must your resume include any relevant keywords, you must avoid fonts and formatting that will not scan properly into the system such as italics, bold and fancy typefaces.

Works Best For:
The verdict is out on this! Are there really jobs offered on the basis of these employer databanks? Or is it just a convenient way for companies to manage a flood of paper? While any resume you post to an electronic resume job bank must be in a suitable electronic format, you can't always know if the resume you send to a classified ad is going into one of these databanks.

Extra advice: If you are applying to large companies (say, more than 100 employees), there is a possibility your resume will be scanned. Prepare for this by reading about electronic resumes and preparing an electronic version of your resume. Ask your professional network for advice: Is this a common practice in your industry?


  1. Keep it focused and businesslike. A resume should be specific and all business. Don't try to be too smart or cute. After all, you are asking an employer to invest significant time and money by choosing you over many other similarly qualified people. Employers want to know whether you are appropriately qualified and experienced, and if you have the ability to "deliver the goods." Save the fact that you are "cool" for all of your new colleagues after you get the job.
  2. More than two pages are too much. For students, recent graduates, or people with just a few years of experience, try to keep your resume to one page, two as an absolute maximum. Even a resume for someone with 20 years or more of extensive working experience, should not exceed three pages. In some cases, one or two "optional" pages can be referred to as "available upon request." These would be such optional annexes as a list of references or an inventory of recent projects and/or publications.
  3. Get the words and punctuation right. Make sure the grammar, spelling, and punctuation in your resume, are perfect. Any obvious mistakes will hurt your credibility. Also, be sure to keep the language clear and simple. If you draft it yourself, have someone with excellent writing skills do an editorial review and a careful proofread of it as well. If a professional prepares it for you, such reviews are the responsibility of the resume preparation firm. Use an accepted English language "style guide" if you want to be sure of the finer points of word usage, punctuation, capitalization, abbreviations, etc.
  4. Read between the lines. Customize the resume to match the stated requirements of the job that you are applying for, without being misleading. Review and analyze the job advertisement carefully. Look for, and itemize the key qualifications, skills and abilities the employer is seeking. Then identify certain key words that are usually repeated in such ads. Make sure that the wording and sequence of points in your resume reflect and address these "corporate terminologies" and "code words" as much as possible. When possible, study the company's annual report and Web site, and weave the themes and terms found there into your resume and cover letter as much as you can.
  5. Make sure it looks good. Use a crisp, clean, simple presentation format for a professional looking resume. Just a bit of simple line work and/or shading, done with standard word processing software will do the trick. If you don't have the aptitude for this, there is most likely someone among your friends or in your office, who can help you achieve a professional presentation. If not, seek professional advice. It won't cost much for a good simple layout, but it will make a world of difference to the product.
  6. Show what can you do today. Focus first and foremost, on your recent experience that is most relevant to the position at hand. Less relevant and/or dated experience should be either eliminated or summarized in brief point form near the end of your resume. When reviewing your resume information, a prospective employer wants to know what you are doing now, what you have done recently, and how that relates to the job requirements of the post they are trying to fill.
  7. Be a straight-shooter. Be completely honest. When people lie or "creatively exaggerate" on their resume, they are almost invariably exposed, sooner or later. Think about it - who really wants to get a job based on a lie(s) and then have to live in fear of eventually being found out? We often read in the newspaper about high-profile folks who get caught in a resume falsehood or exaggeration, and it isn't very pretty. Their stock in the public eye and on the job market suddenly plunges, and no one will ever completely trust them again.
  8. Follow the instructions. Submit your resume in exactly the form that the prospective employer requests. If they say e-mail or fax is okay, do it that way. However, if they ask for it by regular mail, send it the way they ask. They must have reasons for requesting it in such a form and they are geared up to process it that way. If your resume is to be sent by snail mail, use the complete address that they specify, or it could go to the wrong office, especially in a large organization.
  9. Don't get lost in the mail. Be careful to respect certain conventions that the prospective employer may require in your resume. For example, make sure that the cover letter mentions the exact name of the specific position you are applying for, and the competition number, if applicable. Sometimes an employer will request that the job title and/or number be printed on the outside of the envelope. You would not want to miss out on a job because you didn't follow minor administrative requirements.
  10. Don't repeat yourself. In the cover letter, don't repeat what is already detailed in the body of the attached resume. It is a "cover" letter. It should be short and to the point. Introduce yourself first, and then briefly summarize why you believe that you have the qualifications and experience to fulfill the duties of the position better than anyone else. Express enthusiasm about the job and the company. Close, by stating how you are looking forward to hearing more from them soon, and that you will follow-up if necessary.


Identifying Information
The first item on a resume should be your full name, complete address (both current and permanent), telephone number, and email address. The identifying information should stand out clearly so the person reading your resume can easily find the necessary information to contact you.

State as clearly and concisely as possible your short term and/or long range career goals. It should be broad enough to interest a wide range of suitable employers, yet specific enough to illustrate your career direction.

List your current university first, the degree you are pursuing, expected graduation date, and grade point average. Continue in reverse chronological order with other post-secondary institutions or training. It is not necessary to include high school.

Work Experience
List in reverse chronological order your job title, employer, location (city and state), work performed, and dates. Use action verbs to describe your work. Whenever possible, quantify what you did (Example: led six-member team, achieved $ in quarterly sales). Avoid the term “responsibilities included” — instead use action words that emphasize results.

Honors and Activities
List academic honors (Dean’s list, scholarships) or other awards you have received. Also list campus organizations or volunteer community groups, including any leadership positions and accomplishments. Focus on your college experiences instead of high school.

Special Skills
List language fluencies, computer proficiencies, or operational knowledge of special equipment.

Stating “available upon request” is optional depending on space availability. On a separate sheet list the names, titles, addresses, and telephone numbers of three to five individuals who can speak positively about your qualifications.

Example Resumes







Cover Letters

What is a cover letter?

A cover letter provides, in a very real sense, an opportunity to let your prospective employer hear your voice. It reflects your personality, your attention to detail, your communication skills, your enthusiasm, your intellect, and your specific interest in the company to which you are sending the letter.

Therefore, cover letters should be tailored to each specific company you are applying to. You should conduct enough research to know the interests, needs, values, and goals of each company, and your letters should reflect that knowledge.


Objective of a cover letter

A cover letter should be addressed to the specific company and the specific individual who will process your application. You can usually find this through research or simply by calling the company to find out who you should address your letter to.

The letter should name the position for which you are applying and also make specific references to the company. Indicate your knowledge of and interest in the work the company is currently doing, and your qualification for the position. You want the reader to know:

In addition to tailoring your application to a specific job with a specific company, the cover letter should also

Request specific follow up, such as an interview.


What you should do?

A cover letter should be in paragraph form (save bulleted lists for your resume) with a conversational, though formal, tone.

The first paragraph should be brief, perhaps two or three sentences, stating

The body of your letter should consist of one to three longer paragraphs in which you expand upon your qualifications for the position. Pick out the most relevant qualifications listed in your resume and discuss them in detail, demonstrating how your background and experience qualify you for the job. Be as specific as possible, and refer the reader to your resume for additional details.

The concluding paragraph of your letter should request an interview (or some other response, as appropriate). State where and when you can be reached, and express your willingness to come to an interview or supply further information. Close by thanking your reader for his or her time and consideration.




What you should NOT do?


Don’t use a sexist salutation, such as “Gentlemen” when answering a blind ad.

Don’t waste your first paragraph by writing a boring introduction. Use the first paragraph to grab the employer's attention; give the employer the reasons you are qualified for the position.

Don’t use such clichés as “Enclosed please find my resume” or “As you can see on my resume enclosed herewith.” Employers can see that your resume is enclosed; they don’t need you to tell them. Such trite phrases just waste precious space. And don't use pleonasms (wordy phrases), which also waste space.

Don’t depend on the employer to take action. Request action. Request an interview, and tell the employer when you will follow up to arrange it. Then, Do So. It is imperative that you follow up. You will greatly increase your chances of getting interviews if you call the employer after writing instead of sitting back and waiting for a call. Those who wait for the employer to call them will generally have a long wait indeed.

Don’t send a cover letter that contains any typos, misspellings, incorrect grammar or punctuation, smudges, or grease from yesterday’s lunch.

Never, Never more than one page, and it’s best to keep it well under a full page. Each paragraph should have no more than one to three sentences.

Don’t rehash your resume. You can use your cover letter to highlight the aspects of your resume that are relevant to the position, but you’re wasting precious space -- and the potential employer’s time -- if you simply repeat your resume.





Links for Sample Cover Letters



Helpful Links for Cover Letters

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