Video of Resume writing tips from WMU Career and Student Employment Services
Standard chronological resume format
The standard chronological resume format is suitable for anyone. One page is common although it varies by major and extent of experience.
- The resume fills the page but is not overcrowded. There are no grammar or spelling errors. It can be easily scanned.
- Written in clear simple font style, size 11-12, side margins 1 inch, top and bottom margins 1/2 to 1 inch.
- Organized, clear, and well defined. It highlights the most pertinent information and includes: institution and its location, graduation date, major, degree, GPA, study abroad (as appropriate), and any relevant course work.
- Information relates to the intended career field. Places of work, location, titles, and dates are included for each position. Descriptions are clear and formatted as bullets beginning with action verbs. This section could be split into related and other experience.
- Activities and honors are listed, and descriptions include skills gained and leadership roles held. Dates of involvement are listed.
Objectives, summaries, profiles, and branding statements
Objectives work best when you know the job title, you have minimal experience in their field, e.g., student or recent graduate, or you career goals are not obvious from your experience and education.
Objective statements should be brief, simple, and specific. A recruiter is interested in what you bring to the company.
Be specific and align with employer needs. State the job title if applying for a specific position. Identify what strengths or areas of expertise you can contribute.
Some people do not use objectives at all - it is a personal choice.
Don't use personal pronouns (I, me), and don't talk about your needs or desires. Focus on what you have to offer the employer.
"Enthusiastic management student seeking a summer internship with Target Stores. Offering strong communication and customer service skills to maintain satisfied and loyal store guests."
"Creative and enthusiastic classroom leader seeks a 6-12 secondary English teaching position with Kalamazoo Public Schools. Skilled in inquiry-based learning and available for after school academic and athletic programming."
A personal brand is how others see you. A branding statement should address these three things:
- Who is your audience?
- In what way can you help solve problems?
- How do you do this differently than others?
Energetic health services recruiter with the contacts, finesse with people and persistence to attract top talent.
Summaries are used when you have a variety of experiences. Summaries highlight the most important experiences relevant to the position, giving visibility to key strengths and talents for a specific field or academic discipline. With a summary, customize the cover letter or email for a specific position.
"Four years of editing and writing experience for college and high school newspapers. Interned as an assistant account executive with copywriting responsibilities at local advertising agency. Sold advertising space, managed advertising sales, promotion, production, and circulation. Winner of the 2013 Western Michigan University Lawrence, Clara, and Evelyn E. Burke Journalism Scholarship."
Profiles are best used for experienced candidates and graduate students. Profiles are opening statements packed with skills, personal attributes, and often bullet several accomplishments and qualifications.
"Seeking a health services position leading a team to improve the lives of patients. Redesigned an outpatient clinic that resulted in a 15% increase in productivity. Led a project team to evaluate space utilization in a pharmacy that managed over 3,000 medications. Utilized data, focus groups, and process improvement teams to lead space utilization and process improvement initiatives with 12 food service employees."
Focus on the transferable skills you used to complete your work. This is particularly helpful when your responsibilities are not directly related to your future career. Start your skill statement with an action verb, and tell the reader what you did and how you did it. For example:
- Maintained termination files of temporary employees in a database using attention to detail and accuracy.
- Utilized professionalism and excellent communication skills when interacting with customers on a daily basis.
- Employed problem solving and sound judgment resolving conflicts among 10-15 year old campers.
- Managed multiple projects simultaneously using time management and organization.
Identify keywords and phrases
- Analyze job postings for position-specific keywords.
- Highlight the skills, personal qualities, and knowledge required for the desired industry.
- Use O*Net to identify additional competencies that employers desire.
Reflect on experiences
- Brainstorm all the ways in which you have gained knowledge, skills, and abilities desired by employers.
- Remember that you don’t need to get paid to gain from an experience. Think of all the skills you have acquired from work, volunteer activities and coursework.
Focus on accomplishments
Think about your accomplishments using the STAR method:
- S/T” – SITUATION/TASK: What was the situation/task you were working on? What factors contributed to a particular challenge, e.g., budget cuts, tight deadlines, new goals from management, etc.?
- “A” – ACTION: What steps did you take to address the challenge or solve the problem?
- “R” – RESULT: What was the outcome of your actions? Did the employer use your solution? Did you save time or money?
Effective accomplishment statements
- Specific examples of something you are proud of because you contributed to the employer’s or team’s success.
- Start with an action verb and include results.
- Tell the reader what you did, how you did it, or how well you did it.
- Highlight actions that you performed using your strengths.
Examples of accomplishment statements
- Spearheaded three-year strategic plan and annual fund development program to ensure long- term financial stability; secured $10,000 grant from W.K. Kellogg Foundation for its launch.
- Designed and created brochures and guidelines that were adapted by the organization to increase volunteer recruitment.
- Collected and analyzed data and created comparative charts to assist units of local government in reviewing and revising a comprehensive plan for next decade.
- Demonstrated knowledge of current products and pricing in order to assist customers and guarantee return business.
- Trained six peer mentors to provide resume assistance to student externs.
When writing your resume, focus on the transferable skills you used to complete your work. This is particularly helpful when your responsibilities are not directly related to your future career. Start your skill statement with an action verb and tell the reader what you did, how you did it and why you did it.
What to include on your resume to communicate your job skills
Balance two to five statements within the three areas below, blending all three when possible. For example:
"Tell me about a time in your most recent job when you were required to demonstrate specific job."
Technical/job specific skills
- Computer skills
- Job or industry-specific knowledge and skills
- Academic knowledge that prepared you for the career.
"Accurately maintained termination files of temporary employees in a database using attention to detail and accuracy."
Communication and human relation skills
- Customer service
- Rapport building
- Public speaking
- Conflict management
- Teamwork/team building
"Utilized professionalism and excellent communication skills when interacting with customers on a daily basis."
- Goal setting
- Data collection and analysis
- Problem solving
- Sound judgment
- Time management
- Organizational skills
- Priority setting
- Project management
- Decision making
"Managed multiple projects simultaneously using time management and organization."
"Employed problem solving and sound judgment resolving conflicts among 10-15 year old campers."