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Resume Guidelines

Guidelines for What to Include in a Resume

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Resume Guidelines
Copyright Alison Doyle

When you are writing a resume there are a number of resume formats you can choose, including chronological, functional, and targeted resumes.

However, regardless of the format of resume you select, there are certain guidelines that most resumes should follow.

Here's information on what to include in your resume, as well as what shouldn't be listed on your resume. There are also guidelines for resume length, font and page margins.

Resume Guidelines

Resume Length: Your resume should be as concise as possible; two pages is the maximum length, but one page is preferable. Here's more about resume length and how long your resume should be.

Font and Size: Do not use ornate fonts that are difficult to read; Times New Roman, Arial, Calibri, or a similar font is best. Your font size should be between 10 and 12 points, although your name and the section headings can be a little larger and/or bolded. Here's how to select a font for your resume.

Page Margins: The standard page margins in word processing programs (1" margins on the top, bottom and left and right sides of the page) work for most resumes. However, if you need to tighten the margins to reduce the length of your resume, it's fine to reduce the margins to a 1/2" on the sides and top and bottom.

Layout: However you decide to organize the sections of your resume, be sure to keep each section uniform. For example, if you put the name of one company in italics, every company name must be in italics.

Information to Avoid: Do not include personal information such as birthday, height, weight, marital status, children, etc., unless the position requires it.

Accuracy: Be sure to edit your resume before sending it. Check spelling, grammar, tenses, names of companies and people, etc. Have a friend or career services counselor check over your resume as well.

Information to Include in Your Resume

Objective

  • This section is optional. If you decide to include a resume objective, keep it concise and specific; state your desired job or field, and what you hope to accomplish in that field.

Profile

  • Another optional section is a resume profile which includes a summary of your skills, experiences, and goals written specifically for a job posting.

Identification

  • Include your name, address, telephone number, and email address at the top of your resume.
  • Use a professional email address (i.e. johnsmith@gmail.com rather than soccerlover@hotmail.com).
Here's what to include and how to format the identification section of a resume.

Education

  • Include the degrees you have received in reverse chronological order (with the most recent degree listed first).
  • Be sure to include the name of each institution, its location, and your date of graduation (or expected date of graduation).
  • When applicable, include your major/minor fields, as well as your GPA and any honors, publications, and projects.
  • Unless you are a current high school student, do not include your high school degree.
Here's more information on what to include and how to format a resume education section.

Experience

  • Include your work experience in reverse chronological order (with the most recent degree listed first).
  • This section can include jobs, internships, and volunteer work. High school students might also include clubs and sports teams when applicable.
  • Include the name of the company, the position, and dates of employment.
  • List roughly three important tasks, accomplishments, or skills gained at each job. Use action verbs to describe your achievements; avoid passive phrases such as responsible for and duties include.

Here is more information on the experience section of a resume, including what to list, and how to format it.

Skills (Optional)

  • Include any computer systems with which you are proficient, particularly if they are related to the position for which you are applying.
  • Include foreign languages with which you are familiar; state both the language and your level of familiarity (beginning, intermediate, proficient, fluent).
  • List any other skills you have that relate to the job but are not included elsewhere in your resume.

Here's information on the skills section of a resume.

Volunteer Work (Optional)

  • You can include a volunteer experience section to convey your leadership, communication skills, etc. List the name of the organization, the dates of your volunteer work, and your achievements.

Hobbies and Interests (Optional)

  • You can also include a section on your hobbies and interests if they relate to the position. For example, if you are applying to work at a sporting goods store, you can include your passion for basketball.

Resume Samples
It's always helpful to review sample resumes to get ideas for your own resume and to see what a properly formatted resume should look like. Here are sample resumes for a variety of occupations, types of jobs, levels of jobs, and resume formats to review to get ideas for your own resume.

Resume Templates
Use these resume templates as a starting point for creating your own resume. Add your information to the resume template, then tweak and edit it to personalize your resume, so it highlights your skills and abilities as related to the jobs for which you are applying.

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