The goal of your resume is to get an interview with the employer of your choice. Most employers will spend about one minute looking at a resume. Therefore, it is usually best to keep it to one page and to make every word count. The main strength of the resume is the service you can provide for the employer.
The ABCs of the Resume
- Accuracy: be honest and specific
- Brevity: hit the highlights with action verbs; do not write in long sentences or paragraphs
- Clarity: invest time in layout and design; your grammar, spelling, and appearance should be flawless
- Contact Information: Keep this as streamlined as possible. Include name, address, phone, and e-mail address. For college students, listing a home and school address may help the clarity.
- Education: List your highest degree first. Include month and year of completion and institution. Give your major and minor. Depending on the position you are seeking, you may want to include applicable courses, grades, internships, and skills. Include GPA if 3.0 or above.
- Experience: List your most recent employment first. Give the years of service and significant duties. Highlight relevant employment. Use a variety of vivid language to clearly explain responsibilities. “Designed and implemented marketing strategy” is better than “helped with sales plan.” When an action verb is used with a direct object and level of accomplishment, the resulting phrase makes a much more complete and impressive statement. The combination describes what you did and how well you did it (i.e., Increased sales by 20 percent).
- Objective: Although an objective is not necessary, most employers have come to expect one. A good objective tells not only what you want (“To serve in a Christian elementary school in the Dallas area”) but also how you will benefit the employer (“to help young people love and serve the Lord Jesus Christ.”) Try to customize your objective for each particular employer when you print or email your resume. By including the employer’s name you are able to personalize your resume and stand out from other generic resumes.
- Accomplishments: This can be the most valuable part of a resume. List significant activities, awards, honors, interests, memberships, and offices. Some are easily overlooked: “employed since the age of eleven,” “appointed residence hall assistant,” “served as vice president of Phi Sigma Chi literary society,” “Employee of the Month (June 2009),” “performed in University Chorus,” “merited a dean’s list GPA while earning over 50% of room, board, and tuition.” Include only those that may prove helpful for the employer to know; an accounting firm may not be interested that you coached softball, but a school surely will.
- Skills: Sometimes it is appropriate to list specific skills in a separate area, especially if your field of employment requires certain languages, licenses, software applications, tests, etc. However, beware of overwhelming your prospective employer with unnecessary information. Stick to the critical essentials.
Resume Layout and Design
Avoid using templates: usually outdated, too restrictive for future editing, too lengthy because of excess white space.
- Your layout and design depends upon your employment.
- Your page should be balanced. An accountant or engineer will want to have a very classic and conservative presentation. A creative designer or a musician will want to employ a more adventurous and stylish presentation.
- Check out the resume examples to give you an idea of how to start.
- Use the highest quality paper. You cannot give too much attention to detail.
Customize your resume for the position. Design your cover letter to match your resume (font styles and design). Prepare a separate list of references to give when requested. If you have a portfolio, streamline it, and know it. Attend an interview workshop and seek interview coaching. Posting your resume on CareerCentral, BJU’s online placement service, will greatly improve your exposure.
Some employers are beginning to use technology and software packages to sort through the multitude of resumes they receive for a particular opening. Note the following guidelines:
- Don’t use any special formatting like bullets, tabs, boxes, indents, shading, etc.
- Use a basic font like Arial and font size between 11 and 12
- Keep your contact information at the top using separate lines for your name, address, phone number, email, etc.
- Only use capital letters for section headings
- Save as a plain text file in a pdf format
- Print it on regular, 8 1/2 x 11 white paper (don’t fold or staple)
- Don’t abbreviate words
- Describe your experiences using similar words that are found in the employer’s job description
Resume Advising Service
To receive timely assistance with your resume, current students and alumni are welcome to email your polished draft to Career Services. We will gladly review your draft and provide professional advice.