Are you sending out your resume but not getting called for the interview? Your resume might need some fine-tuning to turn it into a powerful marketing tool. Learn the important "Do's and Don'ts" of resume writing and how to design a resume that showcases your unique competencies.
A resume is a marketing tool designed to motivate a prospective employer to interview you. Effective resumes are tailored to a specific position/occupation and target the employer’s needs with clear information detailing your most related skills, knowledge, and accomplishments.
There are several types of resumes, but all resumes should follow these basic guidelines.
- Try to limit your resume to 1 page. In some instances (with a strong history of related employment), 2 pages are acceptable. However, be aware that hiring managers will be reviewing your resume quickly so get important information to the reader efficiently.
- Use plain white or cream paper if you are printing your resume.
- Choose a classic font (Times New Roman, Ariel, or Garamond) and format headers consistently throughout your resume.
- Make sure that your margins are not too wide (1” is a good width) and that there is a balance of text and white space.
- Proofread your resume -- it needs to be error free and accurate.
These are common resume sections. Please keep in mind that the sections you include, and their order, will vary depending on your experience, work history, and career goals.
- List your name, mailing address, phone number, and a professional-sounding e-mail (do not use a work e-mail or phone number).
Summary of Qualifications:
- Highlight in 3–6 bullet points your most related qualifications for the position.
- Do not use vague statements; quantify whenever possible.
- List university degrees in reverse chronological order (most recent first).
- Include graduation date even if it is in the future.
- A related course work or academic projects section can be helpful if you lack related work experience.
- List any technical or language skills that might interest the employer.
- List any relevant certifications and licenses.
- Focus on your transferable and related experiences.
- Quantify whenever possible.
- Use resume action verbs to describe your accomplishments and avoid saying “Responsibilities included...”
- Don’t list job duties; give information on your accomplishments and results.
- Avoid the use of the first person.
- Use the accomplishment statements worksheet to document your experiences.
Volunteer Experience (Optional -- can be useful if you are changing careers and lack related professional experience):
- Include related volunteer experience citing examples from your community or professional organization.
- Be careful not to include information that is illegal for the employer to ask about (e.g., religious/political affiliation).
Interests/Hobbies (Optional -- can be useful if you are changing careers and lack related professional experience):
- Only include these if they are directly related to the position.
- Do not say “References available by request.”
- List 3–4 references on a separate document (use the same header that you use on your resume).
A chronological resume focuses on employment and professional history. This style works well if you have experience that relates to your career goal. Chronological resumes are preferred by some employers.
This resume format focuses on your transferable skills as they relate to the position or type of position that you are applying for. A functional resume can be appropriate if you lack directly related experience or if you are changing careers.
Resume Writing Tools
Use this tool while you are writing and reviewing your resume.
Career Services will review your resume. To submit your resume for review, please fill out the career appointment form at alumni.wgu.edu/careerappt
and email your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org
"Wordle" Your Resume
This is a fun tool that allows you to “see” your resume with fresh eyes.
To "Wordle" Your Resume:
- Highlight and copy your resume
- Go to www.wordle.net
- Click on the “Create” tab
- Paste your copied resume into the text box
- Click “Go”
- What do you see? Does this visual image portray your core skills and accomplishments?
Has anyone told you that cover letters are an important tool in your job
search? View this webinar to learn about the purpose of a cover letter
and best practices for writing compelling job search correspondence.
The purpose of the cover letter is to briefly expand upon the skills
and experiences in your resume and to link them to the position that you
are applying for. A cover letter is a one-page document targeted to the
specific position you are applying for and directed to the company
offering the position. When employers read your cover letter, they will
be evaluating your writing ability; therefore, spell-check and proofread
the cover letter multiple times to avoid grammar and spelling errors.
The cover letter:
- Showcases your writing style and ability
- Tells the employer why are you uniquely qualified for this position
- Gives you an opportunity to describe related skills and accomplishments in more detail
- Lets the employer know that you are professional and proactive
To write an effective cover letter:
1) Review the job description and note three requirements or roles of
the position you are applying for.
-What roles and responsibilities will be most significant for this position?
-What will you be doing and what skills are required?
2) Cite your top three accomplishments that make you qualified for the position.
-What are your top three key experiences that relate to this position?
-What accomplishments will motivate the reader to call you for an interview?
3) Review format and guidelines in the cover letter template
(a step-by-step cover letter writing guide) and sample cover letter.
4) Have someone review and critique your cover letter before you send it.