At some point in your lives, I’m almost certain that you’ll be applying for a job or career. In whatever field it may be, you will likely be asked to provide your resume. I’ve come to you today to give you pointers on how to create the perfect resume for your future employer.
What is a resume?
A resume is a document used by a person to present their backgrounds and skills. Resumes can be used for a variety of reasons, but most often they are used to secure new employment. A typical resume contains a “summary” of relevant job experience and education.
I will show you section by section some of the important things that should be included in a resume.
Just as a disclaimer, there are thousands upon thousands of resume templates online. So, if you prefer a different format or approach than mine, that is okay. However, there are simply some items that need to be included, and I will be going over those items specifically using my own resume as an example.
Also, my resume that you are about to see is not something I just created on the fly. This is the actual resume that I have used to apply to countless jobs, including the Staff Nurse position that I currently have.
Let’s take a look:
Before I get into the details of the actual resume, let’s talk about formatting. Think about it this way, if you’re on a blind date, and you’re meeting someone for the first time, what’s the first thing you notice about them? How they look, right? Well the same thing can be said about a resume. You want your prospective employer to be impressed with the look of the resume first, then its content.
Let’s discuss some formatting rules, shall we?
Word Processor Just FYI, I use Microsoft Word 2011 for Mac.
Margins I like to keep the margins between 0.5″ and 1″ on all sides. Sometimes, a slight adjustment to your margins can eliminate the problem of a second page with only a few lines of text on it.
Font Stick with clean fonts like Arial, Tahoma, Times New Roman, or Veranda. I always use Times New Roman as my default. It’s clean, simply, and easy to read.
Font Size Stay within the 9pt to 12pt range (never higher or lower). Play around with the size of the typeface you choose, since 10pt in one type can be bigger than 10pt in another. Section headings can be a few points larger than the body text so they’re easy to find at a glance.
Font Style Use bold or italics to make certain parts of your resume stand out. But whatever you do, make sure you’re consistent—if you italicize one job title, make sure to italicize them all. Also pay attention to punctuation and line spacing.
Indents The most important thing to remember is to keep all indents aligned vertically down the page. If you indent your bullet lists, make sure all bullet lists have the same indent.
As I stated before, there are tons of pre-made resume templates out there for you to use, but I prefer to start from scratch. Working with a template can sometimes limit what you can do as far as customizing your resume. If you do use a template, however, the same rules apply. Ensuring that the above tips are followed is already a great start to creating a professional resume.
Parts of a Resume
These are the general parts of a resume. Depending on the job that you are applying for will determine which of these parts you can possibly omit or consolidate. Those parts that are imperative will have an asterisk (*) by them.
The first part of a resume that your reader sees is the Information Section.
Provide the identifying information at the top of the resume. You can center the information or left-align it. One thing to keep in mind is that the entire format must be simple.
Here is a picture of the top of the Information Section of my resume. My name is centered using my first name, middle initial, and last name in size 16pt font with a mid-toned blue color. The next line of text is double-spaced and includes my address, city and state, contact number, and email address (to promote privacy, the details are false) using 12pt font in black. Each of those elements is separated by a single bullet point as seen above.
Quick tips on the Information Section:
- Here, it is appropriate to use a larger font for your name and a smaller font for your other information. Your name should be distinct; make it larger. If you want to keep your name black, that’s fine. I chose a darker shade of blue which is appropriate too.
- If you are a college student, do not use your school email address. If you plan on building onto this resume in the years to come, your college account will eventually be discontinued upon graduation. Use a personal email address that consists of your first and last name (or a variation of it); 1 or 2 numbers in addition to that is appropriate. If you still have a whacky email address you used from middle school, make another account. It is not professional to use anymore.
The Objective is one of the most important parts of a resume. It appears near the top of the resume after the Information Section. The Objective provides a focus for your document.
Make the objective a short phrase. If you make it long and complicated, the reader will be forced to work to read your Objective.
I like to start of with “To obtain…”, then finish the phrase with whatever position you are applying for and at what company.
The word “Objective” is in 12pt font, in black, and bolded. The Objective statement is 10pt font in black.
Education is one of the most necessary parts of a resume. The employer wants to know what level of education you have achieved. If you omit this section, the omission may exclude you from any further consideration.
This section can be presented very simply.
Present your education in reverse chronological order–the most recent first. Make it easy to read and consistent from entry to entry. Make the important information jump out at the reader.
As you can see, the universities that I attended are in reverse chronological order. I started with the name of the university, and the city in which the university is. I tabbed over until I reached the end of the margin and put the month and year that I started the university and the month and year that I ended.
Under each university, you want to put any relevant academic awards/scholarships that you received while you were there.
Because I only did 2 years at UGA and did not complete a degree, I did not put my major under the UGA section. Under the college of which I graduated though, I included the type of degree, then the actual major (e.g. Bachelor or Science, Nursing instead of Bachelors of Science in Nursing).
Underneath that, I included my GPA out of the 4.00 scale that my university uses.
As you can already tell, the formatting and spacing can be tricky. The key is to remain consistent throughout the resume though, however you do decide to format.
Quick Tips on the Education Section:
- I imagine that I’m speaking to young adults–whether you’re entering college, almost out of college, or are already out and are finding a job/career.
- New college student As a general rule, you are allowed to include your high school education and awards/scholarships for the first year of attendance. After that, you must use only college information under this section.
- Rising college sophomore and onward Use only college information. No high school information should be used on your resume unless it is specifically related to the job for which you’re applying.
- When using a 4.00 GPA scale, if your GPA is not above a 3.00/4.00, then do not include this particular piece of info in your resume. Omit it!
Clinical Experience/Work Experience*
This section is going to be different for everyone. Because I had been applying to nursing jobs, this section includes all of my relevant clinical experience. However, if you’re applying, for instance, to a position at a music store, then it would include any relevant musical experience. In any case, this section would be named “Work Experience” for the rest of you not in the medical field.
Instead of talking mostly on clinical experience, I will talk about generally what goes underneath this section as related to work experience.
Again, you want to put all relevant work experience in reverse chronological order beginning and ending with the both the month and year.
When you start an entry, begin with the facility’s name and city. Tab over to put the beginning and end date. Double-space and put your position in the facility (McDonald’s Crew Member or TJMaxx Sales Associate…or whatever the official title is). After that, double-space again and list specific duties you completed while working there. This is not the time to be generic. Set yourself apart from your peer/competitors. Start each statement with a verb, then describe what you did. Try to limit the number of bullets to no more than 5 per section.
*For clinical experience, also include the approximate number of hours you spent at that facility if at all possible.
You know how I was talking earlier about not using high school information after your first year of college unless it relates specifically to the job for which you’re applying? Well, here is that exception. I attended college from August 2012 to May 2016. If you notice, I have clinical experience listed from 2010 to 2012; during those years, I was enrolled in the clinical program at my high school. Those types of experiences are relevant and should be included.
Quick Tips on the Work Experience Section:
- What if you haven’t held a job? Then your resume would be more on the functional side. Hone in on skills instead. You can title this section “Skills”, “Relevant Skills”, “Related Skills” or “Related Strengths and Skills”.
- It’s important for employers to see longevity in the workplace. Starting and quitting jobs every 3 months can make you look unreliable and you probably shouldn’t include that on your resume unless you have a valid reason for a short stay (e.g. moving away to another city/state). Any job held over 6 months and is relevant to the position for which you’re applying is fair game.
- Many people ask, if I’ve worked at a job before but it’s not exactly relevant to the position that I’m applying for, should I include it? Sometimes you can. For instance, if you’re applying for a Patient Care Technician job but you work at Wendy’s, you might would put that you work at Wendy’s because customer service in fast food restaurants can be paralleled to patient care in the hospital.
Skills and Accomplishments*
This section can possess a bit of fluidity as far as the title, content, and format. Just as with the Work Experience section, I will give some general pointers.
List any relevant skills and/or accomplishments using bullet points. As you can see, each of my certifications and accomplishments is related to the field of nursing, as should yours to the job for which you’re applying.
Quick Tips on the Skills and Accomplishments section:
- If you’re in the nursing/medical field, I suggest you calling this section “Certifications and Accomplishments”.
- If the certification is a tangible one, like receiving a CPR or First Aid card, try your best to note the date it was received.
I don’t have this section on my resume, but it very well might be included in your resume. If it is, I’ll give you a few pointers:
- Keep the entries here short.
- Limit the entries that are political and religious to avoid controversy at this early stage.
Two candidates who have similar education and experience might be differentiated by their volunteer activities. One who is active in the community may appear to be a more valuable employee than one who has not given thought to this worthwhile activity.
Anything you can add to your resume to highlight your strengths and character will be beneficial for you.
This section is specifically for those who are applying to a job in the medical field, nursing field, law/judicial field, business field, journalism field, or any such professional job as that. If you are a part of a professional organization that is related to the job for which you are applying, then put it down.
So essentially, these are the elements of a resume.
The order goes:
- Information Section*
- Work Experience*
- Skills and Accomplishments*
- Volunteer Experience (if applicable)
- Professional Associations (if applicable)
*Denotes required field
There are a million and one ways that you can create the perfect resume. The example I have shown you is just how I did mine. Before I leave you today, I will give you some final pointers on how to perfect your resume.
- Limit the page length. A resume should be no more than 2 pages. That’s a pretty standard rule.
- Be consistent with your format. As you can probably tell by looking at my resume, everything is consistent. I’m very picky about formatting, and you should be too. If you italicize one section, italicize them all. Make sure that the font, font size, font color, etc is consistent as well.
- Proofread. Nothing irks me more than grammatical errors. It can look to your employer like you’re uneducated, unmotivated, and not worthy of the position. Go over your resume at least twice to ensure that everything is spelled correction and is in proper agreement.
- Tailor your resume to the employer. Employers like specificity. A resume is supposed to be a summary of you, not an entire book. Be as specific as possible and pack a powerful punch with every entry. Refrain from using generic statements.
- Don’t be lazy. When we are applying to several jobs at once, we often have the urge to use the same resume for each employer. Take the time to fix each resume to the liking of the employer. It will be worth your while.
- Frequently update your resume. There’s nothing worse than trying to remember what you did 3 years ago. If you got a new job, go into your resume one day and add that entry. That way, when you happen to be applying to somewhere else, you will already have your most recent information posted instead of trying to backtrack.
- Make yourself stand out. Chances are, if you’re applying to some place, someone else is too. If you have a chance to highlight something extraordinary, do so.
As always, I like to include resources for you guys if you need more to look at:
- 10 Resume Mistakes to Avoid
- Augusta University Career Services – Augusta University Career Services will review and critique your resume for you for free! Just make an appointment and they will help you one on one. I’ve done it, and it was extremely helpful. They are located on the Summerville Campus.
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask me. I will also email you guys my entire resume if you’d like to see it.
I hope you all enjoyed today’s post!