Basic Resume Types and Content Categories

  • Two Most Common Types of Resumes:
    • CV (Curriculum Vitae)
      • Every position, place, education: the whole she-bang
      • Your life story abbreviated to categories (see below)
    • 5-Year Abbreviated Resume
      • Only list experience from the last five years.
      • Include experience relevant to position, or positions whose duties would overlap skill sets
  • What is typically on any resume
    • Name (Legal Name, no nicknames)
    • Contact info:
      • Address
      • Phone Number
        • Cell phone number (pertinent in 2014 whatever model you have.)
        • Home phone if separate and applicable.
      • Email Address (Professional email address- you can use gmail or yahoo, msn, or an sbcglobal or similar address. Beware Netscape, hotmail, or pre-2000 technology.)
    • Objective: Optional. More useful incorporated into cover letter, but can be used on the resume.
    • Skills: If your skills are more recent than your most recent experience, or you are changing careers, this is a good way of highlighting and including capabilities that otherwise may not show up. If you include software under Skills, try to keep current on recent editions.
    • Experience: Applicable work history or cv.
    • Education: Highest degree, followed by undergrad. Only include high school if that is the highest level attained. Include further professional training either here or under Professional Memberships, wherever it would best apply. Also include any college-based extracurricular activities here that may apply such as Phi Beta Kappa for history, or IEEE Student Member, or SAAS Example University Chapter President
    • Military Service (if applicable): See example resume and do not include specific classified information. You can, however, provide Security clearance level. (Secret, Top Secret, etc.)
    • Professional Memberships: National Association of X, American Association of X, X Union, and include any board or officer positions held with or by you in those groups, accomplishments, etc.
    • Volunteer Work: Extra-Curricular stuff that takes up more than 5 hours/week, but does not have to include anything that would violate EEO anti-discrimination (Equal Employment Opportunity: Race, creed, gender, etc. etc.) standards. Missions are okay to put on resumes, but I do not include typical, weekly Church calling services on a resume as those are part of everyday Church and not a full-time commitment (no matter how busy it gets).
    • Awards, Publications, Professional Blogs or Websites
    • If you notice, just by writing this material out in a basic format, [if you print this out or copy it into MS Word] I have already gone over a page. That is allowed if the information is important and/or pertinent. Do not just go one to three lines over to add an additional page. Unless it is a full and necessary paragraph of text, see if the resume will fit legibly on a single page (unless it is a cv, in which case, it is expected to run longer than a page).

Simple Formatting Tips

Layout matters. Make sure that the resume is easy to read, and clean.

  • Resume should be organized, with simply-written, active verbs.
  • Do you organize your words visually? i.e. With appropriate spacing, legible font size, reasonable style, proper punctuation, avoiding jargon potentially unfamiliar to the recruiter.
  • Do you use bullets or levels of words to lead the reader or for very easy scanning? You may only have two seconds once the pre-weeded resumes are removed. A person who really wants the job will go to the trouble of using their resources to make a clear presentation.
  • Do not make a recruiter dig for anything. It should be obvious where your name, address, email, and phone are first. Then your experience, education, military, volunteer work, or other applicable skills should be easy to search. Treat your resume like a search engine. If you wouldn’t be able to tell something quickly and easily, neither can the HR person.

Resumes and Hiring

  • When you go to an interview, always make sure to send a thank you card IMMEDIATELY afterward. That can make the difference between a hire and a “Next.”
  • Bring two or three clean, nice resumes with you on nice paper. Don’t expect or ask the interviewer to print it out for you.
  • Bring references with you, including phone numbers, email addresses, titles and current companies (or retired) and addresses. Make sure to ask your references if you can use them as references before you ever put their names down. It is bad manners to automatically assume someone will give you a good reference whether or not you knew them well at the previous experience.
  • Quick Vocab: Opportunity is somewhere you would like to work; experience is where you have worked.
  • ACTIVE verbs mean you worked. PASSIVE verbs do not help. If it takes more than two verbs together to say something, reconsider the phrasing on the resume. “Could have been” is not the same as “Assisted/Activated/Implemented.”
  • DO make sure to comb the website and review the social media of the company for which you are applying. You should know the basics of the company, and be ready to be confident about where you are applying.
  • Do not apply for jobs that will bore you unless necessary. If you are really under-paid, under-challenged, or completely unhappy with your work, you will start looking for another position before a year is out.
  • Working less than a year at a position looks flaky unless it is an internship or summer jobs. Post-college jobs should be kept at least a year unless there are extenuating circumstances.
  • Lay-off’s or firings are not the end of a career. Due to the economy, many people have given up job searches and being unemployed longer has less stigma than it did during the early 2000s. The new Head Hunter is the Temp Job Recruiter. Sign up with at least three companies simultaneously, and more if possible. Many permanent jobs come from initially temping with a company versus direct-hires.

Resume Do’s and Do Not Do’s in Plain English

This advice comes from being the former file clerk for a global consulting firm in their HR department and previously working for an immigration attorney. I have reviewed hundreds of resumes of the people who get hired. No, I won’t share anyone’s specific details. That’s illegal. I also don’t give legal advice, and won’t pretend to do so here. I own my own business, and sorry- no, I’m not hiring currently. I’m not going to stomp on you, however. What owning my own business means is that I don’t have a conflict of interest in sharing some resume tips. I’m doing my thing, and I want people to get hired and to do good work especially if you’re long-term unemployed.

Here are some things to consider when preparing the all-important resume for something (even if it’s just trying to submit a resume to fill the quota in order to get next week’s unemployment check.)

  • Resumes are the College 101 Class in the Human Resource Department:
    • They are meant to weed out people who won’t work before they ever review the people who do qualify. Often, computers do the weeding before a recruiter reviews the ones who pass through.
    • Treat resumes like paper/electronic first dates, without the picture involved, and where all that you can share about yourself is what you have actually or intend to (in some cases and pertaining only to education) accomplish.
  • DO USE the SAME or extremely similar wording (close synonyms allowed) on your resume or cover letter as whatever is in the ad.
    • Companies spend a lot of time and money on making sure that their ads are properly legal. Companies have been sued before over what is in an ad, so they will automatically disregard and dismiss resumes that do not include their ad’s “buzz words.”
    • Some job ads use highly specific wording due to their being part of immigration cases based on specificity of skills, expertise/experience that does not currently exist in the US. The demand requires someone with a certain job skill set. Although there will be ads for the job, and every applicant has to be interviewed, someone already has the job. Don’t despair. This is another reason for being very careful with the ad’s “buzz words” and ALWAYS applying for multiple jobs even while waiting to hear back on anything.
  • DO NOT have any spelling or grammatical errors.
    • Do not assume that Spell Check or that Grammar Check is your friend. Find at least five people who use big words correctly and ask them if they can check your resume for you.
  • DO be honest. Dishonesty is a one-stop ticket to getting fired, especially if you have falsified any credential, accomplishment, etc.
    • You should be willing to have anything and everything on your resume verified via background and social media/Internet search checks.
  • DO NOT EVER share your Social Security Number or Alien Residence Number unless it is required as part of a W-9.
  • DO NOT ever pay to get into a job. A job that solicits your money in advance of hiring you is a scam.
  • Be careful of working in a place where you are paid in cash without a payroll or accountant, and where you are responsible for your own taxes unless you are the owner of the business.
  • DO NOT overshare.
    • Humans are not perfect. That means that you do not need to tell them about your most spiritual experience in your religion or about how your kid scraped his knee in Little League. They need to know whether or not you can get to the job, do the job, and whether or not you will fit in with their existing company members.
    • You can choose whether or not to put on your social media information. Were I to be in the actively-seeking job market, I would not include it on my resume. Know that HR Departments regularly check Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., especially before hiring people.
    • Everything on a resume has to be checked before hiring occurs, including social media. If you give an employer your username, you’re asking for any little thing to be looked up and researched (So, You ate a doughnut Christmas morning 2009. Are you really “friends” with a friend of Stalker 1234?) Social media bleeds information. Even craft stores and Subway shops require background checks.
  • DO NOT include a picture of yourself on your resume. That is what an interview is for unless you are an actor, dancer, etc. Then you need a professional headshot. Otherwise, no. Social media searches will likely take care of giving you a picture to match on interview day. Social media can also be your friend if it is professional and not ludicrous, crass, or incriminating. Weed your feed before you apply, even if your Google search results appear over-whelming.
  • DO NOT automatically include references on your resume unless required. See Tips page for more info.
  • Special Cases: Be willing to do what it takes (and work to do what it takes) to remove (expunge) past penal (court, law) issues. Arrests matter, no matter where or when. Having issues like this does not completely bar a person from employment, but it does put you down the list.