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Tips For Job Seekers
Résumé Writing

The résumé is often the first contact a potential employer has with a job seeker. It must capture the employer’s attention quickly. The current practice of corporate personnel is to give each résumé a quick glance (7-10 seconds). Employers still ask for résumés, and a good résumé continues to provide a competitive edge for the majority of job seekers.

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What Does A Résumé Accomplish?

A résumé tells the prospective employer what you have accomplished in the past and what you can do for their company now. The résumé's primary function is to sell your talents and skills to an employer – clearly and quickly. It serves as your advance contact to spark an employer's interest and to generate an interview.

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When Is A Résumé Used?

  • Networking - An essential part the job search. Talking to people formally or informally about your job search. Leave copies of your résumé with your network to remind them what you are looking for and what you have accomplished, especially if they are also serving as a reference.
  • Responding to a job posting - The most effective résumés are tailored for a particular job. If the job requirements listed are vague or unclear, use resources like, ONET to understand the job duties, education, and experience requirements.
  • Interviewing - The résumé operates as a script for both you and the employer. When you compose your résumé, keep in mind that it gives you the chance to choose those topics you wish to discuss during the interview. Be prepared to expand on all the accomplishments you listed. A rehearsal with friends and honest critics will help.

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What To Include On Your Résumé

Be prepared to spend some time and effort in writing an effective résumé. You will need two types of information:

  • About Yourself - You need a clear picture of your job talents, work history, education, and career goals. It may be helpful to refer to the Occupational Information Network (ONET). It may be helpful to contact former employers, review W-2’s, Income tax returns or even contact the Social Security Administration (fee involved) if you need assistance putting together your work history.
  • About the Job - Gather as much specific information as possible about the position for which you are applying. Your résumé should show that your skills, education, work experience, and past job achievements are related to the position requirements. The ONET may prove helpful here.

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Where To Get Additional Help

There are many sources of information on how to write the best résumé.

  • Books - There are as many variations in résumé styles and formats as there are books on the market. Most books describe these variations in great detail and provide numerous examples. Some are specific to particular industries or to specific groups of job seekers. Check your local library or bookstore for more information.
  • Websites - There is variations in résumé styles and formats as there are websites on the internet. Most describe these variations in great detail and provide numerous examples. Some are specific to particular industries or to specific groups of job seekers.
  • Workshops - Workshops at American Job Centers will provide you with information on how to create your resume. In addition, many American Job Centers offer resume critiquing services. Our Certified Professional Resume Writers will offer suggestions to improve the content and visual appeal of your resume in order to attract the attention of employers and secure job interviews.

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Making Yourself More Marketable - Transferable Skills

People who have held or who are seeking middle-management positions face increased competition. To help prepare for this increased challenge, it is important to emphasize transferable skills. When you are thinking about your past work history (especially your most recent positions), think about skills you developed and responsibilities you had that could be appropriate to the performance of other jobs in different industries. For example, if you are in a sales or marketing position within the insurance industry, think about how you could apply those skills to the health care industry. The same is true for your accounting, computer, management, communication, and analytical skills.

To get a better idea of transferable skills, it might be helpful to go to the ONET and perform a Google search; by emphasizing transferable skills, you will expand your potential job market.

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Types Of Résumés

There are three résumé formats: reverse-chronological, functional and combination. The key to writing an effective résumé is choosing the right style for you - one that emphasizes your strengths and de-emphasizes your weaknesses. Whichever résumé style you choose, be sure to include examples of results that you produced that benefited your previous employer(s). Employers want to see measurable achievements. They want to know they are going to hire someone who can contribute to their organization's bottom line.

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The Reverse-Chronological Résumé

This format lists the jobs you've had by dates of employment, starting with your most recent job. The usual arrangement is:

  • Name, city and state of company.
  • Dates of employment (all the way to the right after company information).
  • Name and address of company.
  • Job title.
  • Description of the duties performed using fragment sentences and incorporating achievements.

Make sure you include all transferable skills. This format stresses what you accomplished in each of the positions you held.


  • Favored by employers.
  • Easy to read.


  • Can emphasize employment gaps, unstable work history or limited experience.
Recommended For:
  • To highlight increasingly responsible experience/promotions.
  • Advancing within present career field.
  • Steady work experience with limited or no periods of unemployment.
  • Experience that relates directly to the work sought.


Tips for preparing a Reverse-Chronological Résumé:
  • List your most recent jobs first.
  • Give dates for each job.
  • Briefly describe the main duties you performed and your accomplishments in each job.
  • Emphasize duties performed and past accomplishments that are relevant to the job you currently seek.

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The Functional Résumé

This format emphasizes your skills and accomplishments as they relate to the job for which you're applying. Like other résumé formats you should include all transferable skills. A functional résumé presents a profile of your experience based on professional strengths or skill groupings. Your employment history usually follows, but in less detail than in a chronological résumé.


  • De-emphasizes gaps in work history.
  • Focuses on skills and accomplishments first.
  • Provides opportunities to reflect experience gained through volunteer work, internships, college/school activities not related to paid work.


  • Sometimes viewed with suspicion by employers due to lack of information about specific employers and dates.
  • De-emphasizes growth/job titles.

Recommended For:

  • No previous employment.
  • Gaps in employment.
  • Frequent job changers.
  • Career changes.

Tips for preparing a Functional Résumé:

  • Study the duties for the job you are seeking; identify a few general skills that are important to the job.
  • Review your background and experience.
  • Identify talents and accomplishments that demonstrate your ability to perform the job skills.
  • List these talents and accomplishments under the job skills to which they are related.
  • Emphasize activities that demonstrate qualities such as leadership and/or organizational skills, at work or in organizations such as clubs or fraternities.

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The Combination Résumé


  • Highlight significant skills and qualifications and supports these statements with information regarding work history.
  • Highlight industry keywords and buzzwords most suited to the candidate’s objectives.
  • De-emphasizes irrelevant employment/time gaps.


  • Confusing if not well organized.
  • Requires more effort and creative preparation.
Recommended For:
  • Career changers or those in transition.
  • Strong work histories and progressively responsible experiences.
  • Combining skills developed in a variety of jobs or other activities.

Tips for preparing a Combination Résumé:

  • Start with skills, achievements and qualifications.
  • Follow with work history (include dates) and education.


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General Guide To An Effective Résumé

The following suggestions apply to any type of résumé. The order below is recommended, but you can be flexible:


  • Contact Information - Your name, address, phone number and email address should be prominently displayed at the top of the page. You are strongly encouraged to include your LinkedIn address.
  • Headline Statement- A word or phrase that communicates who you are and your job target. It replaces the Objective.
  • Summary - highlight your experience and accomplishments in three to six sentences. Clearly communicate why you are qualified for the position. You can include a line about your computer skills. It attracts the reader’s attention, encouraging them to read on. It should be modified or adapted for specific positions.
  • Experience - Indicate your major responsibilities. Emphasize accomplishments and their measurable benefits to your former employer, e.g. situations improved, savings/earnings, new concepts adopted by firm. This can include paid, unpaid or volunteer work.
  • Education - Start with the most advanced degree and give the name and location of the institution, major and minor (if applicable).
  • Additional Personal Data - Include only if career-related, such as memberships in associations.



  • Be positive.
  • A one or two page résumé is acceptable.
  • Identify your relevant accomplishments; they should be quantitatively stated where appropriate and describe how they benefited the employer.
  • Have friends who know your professional accomplishments comment on your résumé and suggest items you may have forgotten or perhaps dismissed as unimportant.
  • Be specific; choose words carefully, make every word count, and eliminate unnecessary words.
  • Use concise sentences.
  • Use bullet entries for a clean, easy-to-read look.
  • Use action verbs.


  • Don't devote space to items not directly related to the job you are seeking, such as hobbies or descriptions of jobs from your previous career.
  • Don't explain employment gaps.
  • Don't include references; a separate list of references should be prepared ahead of time and should be available for distribution to employers on request, especially at the interview.
  • Don't include salary requirements.



  • Have a balance of white space and text to make the résumé easy to read
  • A font size of less than 10 points is difficult to read; 11 or 12 points is most common.
  • Do not use more than two different fonts.
  • Adding lines, column, white space or tables may enhance the document’s visual appeal and separate sections.
  • Formatting (enhancements, punctuation and spacing) must be consistent.
  • Proofread your résumé carefully and then have someone else proofread it (be sure your spelling, grammar, and punctuation are flawless).



  • Do not bold, italicize and underline the same word.
  • Do not staple documents together.
  • Use the word “I” on your résumé; it is assumed the document is about you and should be written in 3rd person. For example, instead of “I processed claims” use “processed claims” as the start of a bullet.


table of Contents | Tips For Job Seekers

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