How Do I Make a Resume?

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job-seeker-resume-laptop-frustratedShin from Houston Community College asked:

“I have never made a resume before. How do I make one?”

Thanks for your question Shin –

A resume is the ultimate selling tool for you to leverage when applying and interviewing for jobs. It is becoming the most popular way of applying to positions in today’s job market. Many employers are moving to electronic systems when prospective candidates simply upload an electronic copy of their resume instead of filling out long applications. In some cases, all that is required is a link to your LinkedIn Profile. Your resume has now become a personal branding document that will serve many purposes throughout your career in a variety of networking and recruiting situations, as well as helping you get involved in professional organizations.

There are many different forms that a resume can take but for the purposes of helping you create your first one, I will share with you the structure of a “standard” resume than can be used in a wide variety of situations and will be accepted by nearly every industry or company.

A standard resume typically has the following information in this order:

  • Basic Contact Information
  • Education
  • Professional Experience
  • Certifications
  • Extracurricular Activities, Professional Organization Involvement, and Other Accomplishments

In some cases, your resume may include more information than this but usually the above categories are included. In addition to including information in those listed categories, here are three frequently asked questions I get from students, along with my usual responses:

Should I have an objective statement?

Objective statements can be very helpful for a recruiter, especially in a networking situation. A one-line statement at the top of your resume that describes who you are and what you are looking for can help a recruiter at a career fair match you to an opportunity and guide the conversation in the appropriate direction. When you are ready to apply for a job posting, make sure you change the objective statement to meet the specific criteria for the roles and responsibilities.

How long should my resume be?

This question depends largely on the amount of experience you have had up to the point in which you are writing the resume. There is a rule of thumb that there should be one page for every ten years of experience. Most college students will have less than ten years of experience so it is safe to say that a good starting point would be one page. The reason for this is that recruiters often have hundreds of resumes to sort through and the average resume gets read in about 30 seconds or less. With that being said, I would suggest keeping your resume as concise and informative as possible. This will give you the maximum opportunity to get your best experience noticed on a resume.

Should I list my G.P.A?

This can be an interesting topic and definitely depends on the individual and the field that you are trying to get into. Some companies will only interview candidates with a certain G.P.A. and in those cases, it is important that you 1) Find out what the G.P.A. requirement is and 2) Include it on your resume if it meets the requirement. However, if your G.P.A. is something that you aren’t necessarily proud of and could be a lot better, then I would suggest leaving it off. A high G.P.A. will show high work ethic and initiative, while a lower one may lead the recruiter to believe that you aren’t that hard of a worker and may lack initiative.

There are many other questions I answer about resumes but these are some of the most popular. Your career center has a great page with a job aid that is very helpful with templates and additional information.

Hopefully these strategies will get you started and on your way to success.

Good Luck!


About the Author

Dan Schwartz

Dan Schwartz is the Founder and Chief Education Officer of the Ground Floor Leadership Institute (formerly College Coach Dan). Dan is a contributing author for the Association for Talent Development. He has published several articles in the areas of career development, leadership development, employee engagement, and learning & development. He is the Author of TD at Work: Managing as a Ground Floor Leader and Winning Strategies: Achieving Success in the Classroom, Career and Life, and a contributing author to Find Your Fit: A Practical Guide to Landing a Job You'll Love. Dan also regularly speaks to college students and young professionals, seeking to positively influence their success in the classroom, launching successful careers and becoming future leaders in the workplace. To get connected, FOLLOW @gflinstitute on Twitter. To learn more about Dan, visit www.groundfloorleadership.com.

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