Adapted from the resume guide prepared by the Sociology Dept.
Resumes are vital to the job hunt. The primary objective of a resume is to generate enough employer interest to secure your interviews. The resume is a complete, concise, clearly stated summary of your strengths, as they apply to careers. Strengths are found in experiences, activities, education, personal qualities, skills, background, and objectives. Knowing both yourself and the requirements of the job/career you seek is essential to effective resume writing. This knowledge will enable you to do the best job of highlighting your background for potential employers.
A brief phrase outlining the type of job/career you seek. Be concise without being too restrictive. Focus on what skills you would like to provide an organization rather than on what you would like them to do for you (with opportunities for growth and advancement). Refer to a career area (i.e. public accounting) rather than naming an exact title (i.e. assistant auditor), unless you’re tailoring your resume to a specific job.
List, in reverse chronological order, the following:
- Schools you have attended and where they are located.
- Degrees and completed dates.
- Major(s) and Minor(s).
- GPA, if 3.0 or more, Major GPA, if 3.0 or more.
- Academic honors, scholarships, etc…
- If your work experience is limited, include highlights of coursework relating to your career objective. Do not include high school information, if citing bachelor’s degree (unless directly related to the work you seek).
Analyze experiences (full-time, part-time, and summer work, internships, assistantships, field work, research experiences, volunteer work, etc…) in relation to career choice. Use action verbs/skill words to help readers interpret your experience positively. Show how your skills, abilities, and achievements meet the needs of their organization.
Activities/Professional Affiliations (optional)
Include information on your activities, professional memberships, military experiences, community service, etc. Emphasize demonstrated leadership ability, communication skills, organizational abilities, and other qualities that may enhance your employability. Structure similarly to “Experience” section. Showcase the relevant skills you have obtained through your involvements.
Age, maritial status, religion, citizenship status, health, height, and weight should NOT be included.
Provide references with your resume. This will expedite the review process and be more convenient for the employer.
Resume Writing Action Plan
- Pick up a copy of The College of New Jersey Placement Manual at the Office of Career Services and read the section on resume writing.
- Review the sample resumes.
- Determine which resume or combination of resumes best reflects your background.
- Begin writing your resume: You are the single best resource on yourself – your coursework, your jobs, your activities, etc… As you write your resume refer frequently to the section on How to Prepare a Resume in the Placement Manual for pointers and also to model the resume for graphics.
- You can write your first draft either longhand or on a computer.
- Don’t worry about formatting and spacing on your initial draft.
- Don’t worry about the objective statement. For many students it’s the hardest statement to write. It’s probably a good idea to do your objective statement last.
- After revising, format your resume on a word processor. Keep it to ONE page if possible.
- Get some feedback on your resume. Drop off your resume to Career Services to have it critiqued by a career counselor. Turn around time is usually 5 business days.
- Have your resume critiqued by a professor or someone working in your field of interest.
- Make your “final” revisions. (it’s never really final. Your resume will keep evolving as your career unfolds).
Organizing Your Resume
When you decide what information to include in your resume, then choose a format to present it effectively. The most common format is chronological. This is a detailed list of experiences in reverse chronological order – most recent to least recent. Includes work experience, activities, volunteer experiences, and skills, as well as education. This format is the easiest to prepare, and is favored by traditional and conservative employers. If you do not feel this format represents you well, meet with a career counselor to determine better ways of presenting your qualifications.
Hints and Tips
- Keep your resume brief. Few college graduates have enough information to demand more than one page.
- Write in phrases, rather than complete sentences.
- Type your resume in neat, sharp, print. Use proportional spaced fonts, to ensure your resume is readable and professional in appearence.
- Duplicate on quality stock paper.
- Pay attention to spelling, grammar, and punctuation. All errors reflect on you.
- Your resume is an advertisement, not an autobiography; only include the most revalent information.
- Highlight important information for easy skimming – bold, underline, or capitalize key words.
- Use action words to convey involvement/accomplishment.
- Never use I – it’s understood.
- Maintain active voice when describing your experiences. Avoid “responsible for,” “duties include,” and “…ing.”
- Use present and past tense (typically, present tense for current experiences and past for completed experiences).
- Describe skills and knowledge – not experiences.
- Omit negative information, but be 100% honest.
- Do not apologize for a lack of experience.
- Target your resume toward the job you seek. You may need more than one resume.
- Stress accomplishments such as promotions, increases in responsibility, or results of your efforts.
- Have your resume proofread by a career counselor.
Action words are essential to effectively writing your resume. To describe your skills, experiences, and achievements more precisely, start your descriptions with strong action verbs. On the right is a list of action verbs that you may want to use when writing your resume.
Here is an example of how to translate experience or achievement into meaningfull, effective descriptions with the use of action words:
- Before: Member of the College Business Association Activities Committee; worked on raffle
- After: Organized and coordinated annual fund-raiser for College Business Association. Increased member participation and doubled amount of money raised in past five years.
TCNJ’s Office of Career Services employs a staff of professional career counselors who are available to assist you with all aspects of career decision making and planning. Career Services can be contacted by phone at (609) 771-2161, or you may visit the Career Services Website.