Resume Series Part #1: Preparing Your Resume

Posted by Steve Flynn on 3/20/12 8:39 PM

Your resume is one of the most important tools in your career search strategy. It is often the first image of you that employers will see. It serves as a marketing device for your job candidacy. You should take great care in preparing your resume, paying attention not only to the content but also to formats, grammar, and spelling. The goal of a resume is to stress the strengths and accomplishments that set you apart from others seeking similar employment opportunities, and to get you that first interview.

It is recommended by most recruiters and career services offices that your resume be only one page. For those of you with multiple years of experience, this may be difficult. You must remember to delete anything from your resume that is not relevant to the position you are seeking. When describing your job responsibilities, highlight the most important accomplishments and skills. It is quality, not quantity that employers will notice.  Contact Phoenix Group International to learn more about the best way to structure your resume for success!


Career Objective - This section is optional. Only use a career objective when you can state precisely the type of job you are seeking and the specific skills you can bring to this position. It tells employers that you know exactly what you want. Otherwise, leave the objective off your resume and use the cover letter to customize your contact with each employer. An exception to this rule regards changing careers when it is unclear from your resume the field you wish to move into. It is still important for you to state precisely the career you are seeking and how you can contribute to this new field.

Professional Summary/Profile- This section provides an opportunity for an experienced candidate to express personal and professional characteristics that he/she offers to a company. These highlights can appear in a short paragraph or bulleted form, and can be changed depending on the company, position description, and your career goals. It gives the reader a quick list of criteria that establishes a "fit" for the position.

Education - List post-secondary schools in reverse chronological order. Include the school, the city and state in which each school is located, the degree you earned or will be earning, the year the degree was/will be finished, your major and minor areas of study, and your grade point averages. Use comments to clarify or highlight relevant educational information. Other education, such as company-sponsored schools, study abroad, military schools, and seminars may also be included.

Experience - Be sure your information is in the present tense if you are currently employed and past tense if you are no longer with your last employer. In reverse chronological order, list the jobs you have held describing your responsibilities and accomplishments. Include the company name, the city and state, the position title(s), and the dates you were employed in that capacity. Use action words to illustrate what you did and your personal attributes, emphasizing teamwork, responsibility level, analytical ability, creativity, problem analysis, problem solving, and accomplishments (a list of action words is attached to give you some ideas). Use quantitative and concrete illustrations of results and contributions (e.g., sales, percentage increases, people managed, promotions, etc.) You can list military experience in this section, or create a separate section for military experience.

Activities/Honors/Skills/Publications - You can arrange these sections the way that best emphasizes your attributes. In this section(s) you should include membership in student organizations, scholarships and other academic honors and awards, community-related activities or awards, volunteer activities, membership in professional organizations, and publications in journals or newspapers. You may also want to list skills that distinguish you from other students, such as a unique computer skill or fluency in non-native languages. The information in this section should be relevant to the position you are seeking.

References - We recommend you create a separate page for your references that can be included depending on the application situation. Make sure the people you list are aware they have been included and are able to give you favorable recommendations. It is not necessary to put "References Available on Request;" employers know you have references and will ask for them when you become a finalist for the position.

It is up to you to decide how to structure the order of the various sections. Some choose to put education at the top, and others want to emphasize work experience by placing this section at the top. Whatever you choose, remember to make your resume reader-friendly. If the reader has to search for the information they are seeking, your resume is ineffective. The ultimate goal is to market yourself in the most positive light.  If you are looking for a new career opportunity, and ways to enhance your resume, contact Phoenix Group International today!

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Stay tuned for the next blog in the series: The Important Five

Tags: Candidate Tips, Phoenix Group International, Resume Tips, Careers