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Contributors:Lisa Daugird, Amy Leigh Shutts, Allen Brizee.
Summary:

This résumé workshop provides detailed explanations, as well step-by-step processes, for creating an effective résumé. The Purdue OWL also maintains résumé quick tips resources and a résumé PowerPoint slide presentation. Please visit those resources for shorter discussions of the résumé.

Résumé Workshop

This résumé workshop provides detailed explanations, as well step-by-step processes, for creating an effective résumé. The Purdue OWL also maintains résumé quick tips resources and a résumé PowerPoint slide presentation. Please visit those resources for shorter discussions of the resume.

What is a résumé?

A résumé (also spelled resume) is a brief document that summarizes your education, employment history, and experiences that are relevant to your qualifications for a particular job for which you are applying. The purpose of a résumé (along with your cover letter) is to get an interview. Research has shown that it takes an average of ten (10) interviews to receive one (1) job offer, so your résumé needs to be persuasive and perfect. Given this, your résumé must be user-centered and persuasive.

The general purpose résumé usually contains four sections:

Writing the contact section of your résumé

This section of your résumé is definitely the easiest to write, but you do have a few options for design and content.

What is a contact information section?

Unlike other sections of your résumé, this section does not have a special heading like "Contact Information." Instead it simply lists the information below at the top of the page:

Of course, as with the rest of your résumé, you'll want to double-check that all the information you include is current and accurate. Mistyping your phone number could easily cost you an interview! Also, if you list an e-mail address, be sure to check your e-mail regularly or you may miss an important message.

If you live on campus, you should provide your campus address. But you may also want to provide your home address.

Designing your contact information section

Employers will probably look first and last at your contact information section, so it's well worth your time to make this section easy-to-read and appealing to the eye. Whatever design choices you make, try to coordinate them with the rest of your résumé. Here are some specific design options:

  1. Use page design strategies to present information in a usable format. For example, to help readers find desired information, you might place your name in a larger font size, center it, boldface it, or anything to make it stand out. If you have a permanent and local address, you might want to play with columns.
  2. You may want to add a graphic element such as a horizontal line to help section off your contact information. Make sure the visual does not distract from your textual information.
  3. Coordinate with your cover letter. One way to make your application documents a professional package is to match your cover letter and your résumé. You might do this by creating stationery or a letterhead for both documents. For instance, if you use two columns for your addresses and a double line on your résumé header, you might adapt it for the top of your cover letter as well. Make sure to use the same fonts (size also) for both documents.

Questions to ask

About you

About the company or organization

Job seekers at Purdue University may find value in the Purdue career Wiki here.

For more information about how to develop a résumé, visit these OWL resources:

Contributors:Lisa Daugird, Amy Leigh Shutts, Allen Brizee.
Summary:

This résumé workshop provides detailed explanations, as well step-by-step processes, for creating an effective résumé. The Purdue OWL also maintains résumé quick tips resources and a résumé PowerPoint slide presentation. Please visit those resources for shorter discussions of the résumé.

Education Section

Education sections vary tremendously on résumés—sometimes they are only a couple lines while other times they span half a page. What's the best way for you to approach yours? The resource below contains a number of options.

What is an education section?

An education section highlights your relevant schooling and academic training. If you have substantial work experience, this section may be very brief, simply listing the information below. If you are a currently enrolled college student or a recent graduate, however, you may want to build this section substantially.

The education section usually includes information about:

Why write an education section?

Where should you place this section?

Education sections, like experience sections, are usually placed in the middle of a résumé, somewhere between the objective statement and the honors and activities section.

If your educational background is your strongest qualification or may help your résumé "stand out," then you'll probably want to put it near the top. Especially if you are a recent graduate, this section may be a major focus for recruiters. On the other hand, if your experience sections are stronger, then you'll probably want to move your education section below them.

How to build your education section

If you have the space on your résumé and/or if your educational background is particularly relevant, you may want to expand this section by including some of the content listed below as it applies to your experiences and career goals.

Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN. Candidate for B.A. in English, GPA 3.2. Focus: Professional Writing; Pre-Law. Expected to graduate in May 2008

NOTE: If you have enough information, you may wish to turn some of your content into subsections or even into separate sections. For example, if you know several relevant computer technologies, you might want to list them under the heading "Computer Proficiency" rather than tuck them under your Education section.

Generally, you want to include your overall GPA, and even your in-major GPA and minor GPA. But if your GPA is below 3.0, you may not want to include it.

Samples

Major/minor grade point average (GPA)

Major and minor areas of study, concentrations, emphases or specializations

Special projects

Relevant coursework

Familiar computer applications

Continuing education courses, programs, training units, etc.

Academic honors or graduated with distinction

Check with your university or college to see what the requirements are for these distinctions.

Funding

Certifications

Questions to ask

About you

About the company or organization

Tailoring for your audience

To improve the effectiveness of your education section, you will want to know what content will be most valued by the company hiring. You can get a good sense for which of educational qualifications are most relevant by analyzing job ads and company literature as part of your job search.

You may tailor your education section in three main ways:

1. Select and include only your most relevant educational content: Based on your career goals and the qualifications called for in job ads, you may choose to include or omit certain kinds of information. For example, if you earned a degree in a very specialized field (one employers may need to know more about) or have taken specific courses directly relevant to the position, then you'll want to include a listing of coursework. However, if your degree is self-explanatory and employers likely will know your more specific credentials, then you may omit this section.

2. Emphasize content through placement and design: Since the eye is drawn to section headings and the uppermost portion of sections, you may choose to put your most impressive and relevant educational experiences in either (1) their own sections/subsections, or (2) near the top of a section. For instance, if you have substantial computer skills or have undertaken a special project, you may choose to put this information in its own section rather than simply list it beneath "Education."

3. List most relevant schooling first: While you may wish to use reverse chronological order (most recent schooling first), you also have the option of placing your most relevant educational experiences first.

Click on the link at the top of this resource for a sample resume.

For more information, please see the Interactive Résumé.

Contributors:Lisa Daugird, Amy Leigh Shutts, Allen Brizee.
Summary:

This résumé workshop provides detailed explanations, as well step-by-step processes, for creating an effective résumé. The Purdue OWL also maintains résumé quick tips resources and a résumé PowerPoint slide presentation. Please visit those resources for shorter discussions of the résumé.

Experience Section

Many job ads call for individuals with relevant experience, and all employers prefer experienced people to inexperienced ones. Your experience section can be the "heart" of your résumé. How can you put your experiences in the best light? Read below for some strategies.

What is an experience section?

An experience section emphasizes your past and present employment and/or your participation in relevant activities. Sometimes this section goes under other names such as the following:

Feel free to customize your headings for this section, especially if you are writing a tailored résumé. For example, if the job ad calls for someone with editorial experience, you may want to create a section with the heading "Editorial Experience." Even the busiest reader will notice. Usually, résumé experience sections move from most recent to oldest experience. But with a tailored résumé, you may want to note important and applicable experience first, thus not following a chronological order.

Also, you may discover you need more than one section to organize your experiences. For instance, you may want a section for volunteer work and another for your work history or one for technical experience and another for supervisory experience.

The usual content for an experience section includes:

Sample:

Subaru of Indiana Automotive Inc., Lafayette, Indiana Security Officer, January 1997 to present

Assisted with loss prevention, access control, fire prevention, and medical response

However, you need not put all this information in this order. For example, if you wish to emphasize the jobs you held rather than the place of employment, you may want to list position titles first. Also, it is often much easier to read if the dates are aligned all the way on the right side margins. This way, it is easier to navigate through which experiences have been the most recent.

Why write an experience section?

Where should you place the experience section?

Most people put their experience somewhere in the middle of the page, between their education section and their activities. If you have significant experiences, you may wish to emphasize them by placing your experience section closer to the top of your page. If your experiences are not obviously relevant, however, you may want to put your experiences beneath, for example, your activities/leadership section.

Questions to ask

About you

About the company or organization

Lastly, some college students may not have a lot of experience that pertains directly to the job/intern position/graduate school to which they are applying. Don't panic! In these cases, setting up experience sections with two subcategories (responsibilities and skills learned) can help communicate skills learned that are applicable to future positions:

Experience

Sales Associate, Hot Topic, Lafayette, IN 12/1/2010-Present

Responsibilities

Skills Learned

While you may not think that the retail work you perform carries much value, the skills you're learning transfer and apply to a number of positions in a wide variety of organizations. For example, the interpersonal skills you learn dealing with irate customers during the Christmas rush can help you in stressful professional settings.

In addition, the process of working with customers to help them find what they need can help you if you want to work in sales and marketing. Moreover, the retail environment itself affords you the opportunity to participate in the distribution and sales of retail goods, which is applicable to business and even industrial engineering disciplines.

Click on the link at the top of this resource for a sample résumé.

For more information, please see the Interactive Résumé.

Contributors:Lisa Daugird, Amy Leigh Shutts, Allen Brizee.
Summary:

This résumé workshop provides detailed explanations, as well step-by-step processes, for creating an effective résumé. The Purdue OWL also maintains résumé quick tips resources and a résumé PowerPoint slide presentation. Please visit those resources for shorter discussions of the résumé.

Honors and Activities Section

What's the best way for you to approach your honors and activities section? Read below for some options.

What is an honors and activities section?

This section of the résumé highlights the relevant activities you have been involved with and the honors you have received that you could discuss with your prospective employer. You also want to communicate how these activities and honors might make you an asset to the organization.

An honors and activities section might include the following.

Samples:

Why write an honors and activities section?

Where should you place this section?

The honors and activities section is generally placed after the education and experience sections of the résumé. Since this section is usually the last one on the résumé, you can include as many or as few honors and activities as space permits.

How to build your honors and activities section

It is best to brainstorm a list of all your honors and activities before you write the honors section of the résumé. Then you can choose the most relevant and recent honors and activities from your list. Remember that this section is supposed to help you stand out from the crowd and demonstrate your qualifications for a position; consequently, you may not need or want to include all of the honors and activities from you list on the résumé.

Content to consider

Samples:

Scholarships

Academic Honors

Membership in Professional Organizations

Community Service Positions

Questions to ask

About you

About the company or organization

Tailoring for your audience

The activities and honors section of the résumé is a great place to tailor it for specific positions, companies, and organizations. This section can become customized for specific positions since you will probably not include all of your activities and honors but only those that make your résumé stronger. To tailor this section for your audience, you should apply the same principles that you used in tailoring the experience section of your résumé.

You should:

  1. Select and include only your most relevant experiences: Based upon your career goals and the qualifications desired by the company, you will likely find that certain activities and honors are less relevant for specific positions. For example, if you are applying for a mechanical engineering position, your role as a youth leader in a local group may not interest your audience. If you are applying for a teaching position, however, this same activity might be very relevant.
  2. Place your most relevant experiences first: Since readers are most likely to read information closer to the top of the page, place your most impressive experiences first.
  3. Appeal to your company's values: If the company values problem solving, for example, or taking the initiative or being a team player, then be sure to include activities and honors from your list that demonstrate that you possess those skills.

Click on the link at the top of this resource for a sample résumé.

For more information, please see the Interactive Résumé.

Contributors:Lisa Daugird, Amy Leigh Shutts, Allen Brizee.
Summary:

This résumé workshop provides detailed explanations, as well step-by-step processes, for creating an effective résumé. The Purdue OWL also maintains résumé quick tips resources and a résumé PowerPoint slide presentation. Please visit those resources for shorter discussions of the résumé.

Skills Section

While not all résumés contain a skills section, a skills section may be helpful when you want to emphasize the skills you have acquired from your various jobs or activities, rather than the duties, or the job title. If you do not have enough previous experience for a specific job you are seeking for, it is important to emphasize your skills pertaining to that job.

Skills can be just as important as work experience to employers. To prepare your skills section, you should:

Here is an example of what your skills section on your résumé may look like.

Leadership
  • Conducted monthly club and board meetings for Lafayette Junior Woman's Club.
  • Headed club's $8,000 philanthropic project sponsored by Tippecanoe County Historical Association.
  • Coordinated responsibilities of committees to sell and serve food to 1500 people at fund raiser.
Business Communication
  • Completed a formal report for Business Writing course.
  • Wrote annual state and district reports of all club's community service projects, volunteered hours and monetary donations.
  • Compiled, type, photocopied and distributed club books to each member.
Financial Management
  • Supervised the collection and dispersion of $4,000 in funds to various agencies and projects.
  • Wrote and analyzed periodic business statements regarding funds to specific projects/agencies.

For more information, please see the Interactive Résumé.

Contributors:Lisa Daugird, Amy Leigh Shutts, Allen Brizee.
Summary:

This résumé workshop provides detailed explanations, as well step-by-step processes, for creating an effective résumé. The Purdue OWL also maintains résumé quick tips resources and a résumé PowerPoint slide presentation. Please visit those resources for shorter discussions of the résumé.

Résumé Workshop Presentation

This résumé workshop PowerPoint presentation provides extensive information on how to conduct research for and compose a résumé. The presentation also includes activities for instructors/workshop leaders to use with students/workshop participants.