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Building a Resume

The Resume

Your resume communicates your qualifications and your brand—who you are and what makes you different—to employers and recruiters. In a tough job market, you need a resume that helps you stand out in a sea of applicants.

The purpose of a resume is to get you an interview!

It is the resume that gets you the interview! In today’s market, many companies utilize resume-tracking programs - a computer selects your resume based on keywords.  You not only have to impress the employer, you must impress the computer as well! The purpose of any resume, electronic or otherwise, is simply to get you an interview.

Other Reasons for a Resumes
  1. Prepares you for the interview. Most employers will use your resume as a guideline when they interview you. They will ask you to explain in detail many of the statements you have made in your resume.
  2. Organizes you. Preparing a resume prompts you to assess your skills. This in turn will help you evaluate the many employment options open to you. It will also help you plan an effective job search campaign.
  3. Gives you a sense of security. It is a good idea to always have an updated resume accessible. You never know when you will want to seek a better job or just a change. Also, in case you unexpectedly lose your job, it is wise to have your resume ready.
  4. Can be used as a calling card. It is available when you want to conduct informational interviews to test potential opportunities.
  5. Required for scholarship applications. Some scholarship applications or volunteer experiences may require a resume as part of the application. 

The Format

What type of resume do you want to create? There are two basic resume formats: chronological and functional. The main difference between them is the amount of emphasis you give your job history compared to the amount you give your skills.

  • Chronological format highlights your employment history. This format can work if you have a solid work history in a particular job or field and you’re planning on looking for a similar position.
  • Functional format highlights your skills. Use this format to show what you’re capable of doing, even if it’s not directly related to your work history. It’s the best choice if you’re changing careers.
  • Combination format communicates your strongest qualifications while providing employers with relevant information on your employment history. Choose two or three skill areas to categorize your experiences.
The Sections of a Resume

A resume consists of several sections, each of which delivers essential information. The table below explains what each section of your resume should tell your reader. Resumes are unique to each person. What you include is up to you, and always should be relevant to the position you are applying for.

Resume section

What it tells the reader

Top portion of resume (first third to half)

If your resume is worth reading further. This opening “snapshot” should entice readers to read more.

Header (name and contact information)

Your preferred name and how to contact you. The reader shouldn’t have to think about this (e.g., wonder what name you go by). It is recommended to include e-mail, phone number, and LinkedIn if possible.

Headline, Summary Statement or Professional Statement

What you’re looking for and why you are qualified. Announces your job target and quickly sums up why you are a good candidate. Note that experts recommend this approach to replace what used to be called "Objective" on many resumes. It may be written in a paragraph or bulleted list. This is optional.


Whether you have the required skills. Helps the reader quickly match your skills to the position requirements.

Work Experience
or Professional Experience
or Employment History

What you have accomplished that is relevant. Explains what you have achieved that could also benefit the reader’s company.


Whether you meet the education requirements. Again, helps the reader quickly match you to the position requirements.

Continuing Education
or Professional Development
or Additional Training

What further training you have pursued. Matches you to job requirements as well as illustrates initiative and commitment to learning.

Other Information

What other assets you offer. Provides additional information (professional memberships, awards, etc.) to support your candidacy.

Now that you've seen some examples and reviewed the sections of a resume its time to start gathering your information. One way to do this is by using our Resume Worksheet to group your experiences onto one piece of paper. Use this worksheet as a beginning place.

The First Draft

Writer’s block is a common problem when writing a resume. The solution? Expect to write a draft first, not a finished resume. This way you can write freely now and edit later. Here are some tips for getting started:

  • Begin by assembling the basic sections of your resume. At this point, don’t worry about the order or wording of each section. Just get information down.
  • Use whatever writing tool works best for you. For example, you may prefer to write on a yellow legal pad before starting a document on your computer.
  • To show employers what you’re capable of, include transferable skills and accomplishments, and/or a summary statement.
  • Make good use of keywords, integrating information you’ve gathered in your research. Don’t forget to be specific, utilizing a job description to tailor-make your resume.
  • Less is better for resume length. Usually one-page resumes works well for recent graduates.

Edit and Proofread your Resume

Now it is time to proofread and edit your resume. You developed a rough draft. Use our checklist to see how you did. Then, schedule an appointment with Career Services to review the resume and get feedback.

Riverside Campus
Career Services, G-205
Redwood Campus
Career Services, L Building