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Résumé Writing

A résumé is your marketing tool. You have a product to sell and that product is you. The main purpose of the résumé is to present information about yourself that shows you are a professional and competent person. Everything in your résumé needs to be focused toward the job desired. Your résumé should get the attention of your reader, and hopefully get you an interview. Your résumé should also help your interviewer remember you after the interview. And don't forget to include a cover letter when sending your résumé to a potential employer (see the Cover Letter Writing handout).


  • a summary of your accomplishments, skills and abilities, not a summary of your job duties.
  • about you, not just about the jobs you have held.
  • focused on your future, not on your past. It states what you can do for the employer today.
  • a record of your skills and experience that support your career goals and objectives, your transferable skills.

Spend time conducting a self-inventory of your experiences, activities and skills. Begin by brainstorming and write everything down. Review your educational, extracurricular, employment and volunteer experiences. Think about responsibilities, achievements, honors and skills you have developed. When you put your résumé together you can gradually eliminate less important information as you focus on the position you are currently seeking.

Decide if you should use a chronological or functional résumé. The chronological format is the most widely used and is the type many employers are most familiar with. Work experiences are listed in reverse chronological order, with the most recent positions given the most space/attention. The functional format is highly flexible and allows you to highlight areas of expertise and skills that most relate to the job you are seeking. The key to both types of résumés is transferable skills.

Use a chronological résumé when:

  • you want to call attention to a very stable work history.
  • you want to call attention to consistent upward mobility and promotions in your career.
  • you are applying for a job in a very conservative field.
  • the name of your last employer is an important consideration.
  • you think your next employer will be more comfortable with a traditional looking résumé.
  • your prior titles are impressive

Use a functional résumé when:

  • you are making a career change.
  • your job titles do not do justice to your accomplishments and responsibilities.
  • your best accomplishments and most impressive work experiences are not from your most recent jobs, but farther back in time.
  • your work history is complicated or has long stretches of unsalaried periods.
  • your most impressive skills came out of unpaid or volunteer work.

Transferable Skills
Transferable skills are non-job specific skills you have acquired during your life (through jobs, volunteering, school, etc.) that can be used in every occupation, regardless of th

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