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Resume Tips & Hints

Updated on August 24, 2015

For some people, the very thought of putting together a resume is enough to start their hearts racing and their hands shaking.  In reality, though, putting together a resume to be proud of is not all that difficult.  The key is to understand the anatomy of an effective resume so you can put the right information in the right places.

Resume basics

Let’s start with the very basic purpose of a resume.  It is a document designed to present your most positive skills and abilities to an employer, in a way that makes it clear how your qualifications are relevant to the job position.  Your resume should be concise and clear, making it easy for the prospective employer to understand why you should be considered for employment.

In most cases, your resume should be kept to a single page, or if absolutely necessary, no longer than two pages.  Choose a professional quality paper, such as linen or heavy bond cotton, in a color that is conservative and classy, such as white or light cream.  Use a font that is easy to read, such as Times New Roman, Arial, Verdana, or Century Gothic.  It is okay to use one font for headers and a different font for the main body of content.

The 5 Types Of Resume

The five main types of resume are:

  • Functional Focuses on your overall skills, abilities, and experiences across all of your work history rather than job by job.
  • Chronological Begins with your most current position and lists the rest of your work history in reverse chronological order.
  • Combination Includes skills, abilities, and experiences at the beginning and finishes with your employment history.
  • Targeted Customized to highlight your skills and abilities that are most important for the specific position available.
  • Mini A short version of your resume, with a brief summary of qualifications and career background; often used for networking purposes when a full resume is too long.

Most job searchers will prepare a functional, chronological, and combination resume so they are fully prepared for likely job search situations.

Sections of a resume

There are several sections you should include in your resume:

  • Personal information  Name, address, phone number, email address, etc.  Be sure your email address is something that sounds professional, such as, rather than something casual and personal, such as
  • Overview  A general overview of your skills and what kind of job you want to pursue.  This section should be no more than a single paragraph in length, preferably three to four sentences at the most.  Be sure to include strong, action oriented words such as coordinated, executed, directed, organized, generated, resolved, facilitated, prepared, adjusted, discovered, persuaded, and the like.
  • Skills and abilities  A discussion of the specific skills, abilities, and expertise you have to offer an employer.  This section is most often used in a functional, combination, or targeted resume.  Be sure to use strong skill categories, such as leadership skills, communication skills, technical skills, analytical skills, teaching skills, financial skills, problem solving skills, creative skills, and the like.
  • Work experience  A list of your employment history, starting with your most current position and working back from there.  This section is most often used in a chronological, combination, or targeted resume.  Each entry should include the name of the employer, the position you held, the dates of employment, and a brief (one or two sentence) description of your responsibilities.  In most circumstances you should not list work history more than ten years back, unless you were in a position for a very long time or there is a particular skill from a past position you want to highlight.
  • Education  A list of your educational background, starting with the highest level of education achieved and working back from there.  Also be sure to include any relevant certification, licensing, accreditation, and the like.
  • Other interests  A very brief description of what you enjoy doing in your spare time.  Resume and employment experts disagree on whether you should or should not include this section; the best approach is generally to focus on the previous five sections in this list, and only include this section if space allows.

Final thoughts

Throughout the resume preparation process, keep in mind that this document represents you when you are not there to represent yourself.  It should contain the vital information that a prospective employer needs to determine if you should come in for an interview, and generally demonstrate your level of professionalism and attention to detail.

It is a good idea to enlist the help of a trusted friend, relative, or mentor to review your resume and provide feedback before you start sending it out to prospective employers.  Often these “fresh eyes” will find misspellings, awkward phrases, or areas where you could improve the power of your resume to clearly communicate your skills and abilities.

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    • Roseann Cole profile image

      Roseann Cole 7 years ago from Midwest USA

      Great article and advice. Having a friend or family member read over the resume is a good idea.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      Very good tips and advice for people who do this.