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Creating an Effective Resume

Resumes That Get Results

You must have an effective resume in order to conduct a successful job search. The resume is usually your first introduction to the employer during the employment screening process. Employers typically spend between 15-30 seconds looking at a resume to pre-screen a candidate. You must create a resume that markets your skills and abilities to the needs of the employer quickly and clearly.

Your resume is a concisely written document that summarizes your qualifications and accomplishments from your personal, educational and work experiences. There is no single model of a resume that is appropriate for all people in all circumstances. There are a number of styles and formats that you can consider before selecting the one that best fits you.

Career Services can help you develop your resume. Contact our office at 507-537-6221 or stop by at BA 156 to make an appointment.

To create an effective resume, follow these steps:

Establish your objective and create your profile. What position are you looking for? Resumes need to be targeted to the specific job or industry. Employers don’t have the time to determine where you would be a “fit” in the company. Your objective should specifically express what position you are seeking. For example, if you are interested in a corporate tax accountant position, indicate that title in the objective or profile.

Identify and assess who will be reading your resume. Who hires for the position you want? What are the skills, knowledge and qualities the employer needs for the position?

Gather a list of your accomplishments and qualifications. Now that you know what the employers are looking for, you need to identify where you have demonstrated or obtained these qualifications. Determine how you are a match for the position. What qualifications, buzz words or action verbs do you need to highlight on your resume?

Focus on your accomplishments. Employers are interested in what you have achieved. Your resume should highlight your successes (i.e. college degrees, honors, internships, research projects, job promotions, outstanding recommendations, leadership positions, volunteer experiences, etc.).

Choose your format and design your layout. Which format will best showcase your experiences and demonstrate your qualifications for the position (chronological, functional, combination). You want your information to be easily digested by the reader. Choose a layout that is pleasing to the eye and represents your accomplishments in a clear way. Click here to view resume examples.

--- Length
Most resumes are generally one page. Two page resumes are acceptable if your experiences relate to the position and industry you are applying to. 
--- Font Size
Employers typically only spend 15-30 seconds on a resume. Really small fonts are hard to read and don’t photocopy well. General rule of thumb is 10-12 font for Times New Roman and 9-11 font for Arial.
--- Margins
Your margins should be at least one half inch. You really don’t need more than one inch. Make sure your “white space” is appropriate for the layout you’ve chosen.
--- Layout
You want your layout to be clean and easy to read. Don’t use template wizards. Employers can spot a template very easily. You want to stand out in both content and quality of layout. Stay away from the “canned” resume which will make your resume look like everyone else's.
--- Printing quality
You’ve spent a lot of time developing a high marketed resume. Make sure you print your resume on a laser printer and on good bonded paper (resume paper). Conservative colors are the best.

Use action verbs and quantitative examples.

Prepare, revise and critique your resume. It is critical that your resume be marketed to the needs of the employer if you want to be considered for the position. Counselors at Career Services can critique your resume for you. Contact our office to schedule an appointment.

Make your resume look professional. Use a word processor and laser print your resumes on resume paper.

Action Verbs and Use of Keywords

Companies are using screening and tracking systems to handle applications today so it’s important that you include keywords that are found in the job description and or advertising for a position that you’re interested in. The computer program searches for keywords that describe the position and the professional skills needed. Reference the Action Verb handout when writing your resume and describing your experiences. Click here to view the Action Verb handout.

A helpful strategy for using these verbs:

  • Go through the entire list and check off all the action verbs employers in your intended field look for.
  • Go through the list a second time and check off all the verbs you have used in the experiences you are describing in your resume (i.e. work experiences, internships, etc).
  • Note all the words that you have checked twice and incorporate them into your resume to promote your accomplishments and skills.

Last Modified: 3/29/23 5:28 PM | Website Feedback