The company you want to work for is hiring. As you craft your resume, think about why you are suited for the position. Consider your experience, training, accomplishments, expertise, and educational background.

The resume is like a calling card. A prospective employer may only scan the resume for less than a minute before moving on to the next one in the stack. So, you’d better make it a good one!

The business resume should sum up who you are. The tone and writing style should be professional. Leave the lingo, texting language, and the emoticons out of your resume. While your resume needs to stand out from the should stand out for the right reasons. An employer should finish reading your resume with a positive impression of you.

Is There a Resume Standard?

No. All resumes are different. The language, design, and content of the resume must show the potential employer who you are as a person, and as a professional. A good resume will give the employer no choice but to find out more about you through the interview process. A poorly written and executed resume is likely to end up in the shredder.

What Should I Include?

Unless you are applying to only one specific job, you will need to tailor your resume. A general resume may save you time, but in the long run a resume that isn’t tailored to the job you want is worthless. An employer wants to find the ideal candidate for the position. A resume showcasing skills, expertise, and accomplishments will stand out from one that is vague and general in tone.

While most resumes employ the traditional style of listing jobs in reverse chronological order, you can create a resume that is functional. In a functional resume, each skill is listed with its associated educational, job, and training qualifications.

Start from Scratch

you are retooling an existing resume or starting from scratch, take a moment to jot down what you have to offer to an employer. Write down:

  • college and graduate experiences -- degree with year and area of concentration
  • work experiences -- paid and unpaid
  • honors
  • awards
  • special recognitions
  • certificates
  • membership to industry or technical associations

As you jot this information down, include dates of employment, etc., job titles, leadership roles, promotions, and most importantly, any skills earned. Look through your notes to see which experiences are most relevant to the job. Read through any materials from the job description or interview materials to hone in on what the employer wants to see in a potential candidate.

Parts of a Resume

Contact information -- Include full name, street address, city, state, zip, phone number, cell phone, email address, website. Place at top of the page, boldfaced, usually centered on the page.

Education -- List all colleges and universities, starting with the most recent degree. If applying for a job immediately after graduation, include GPA. Highlight any collegiate or graduate experience relevant to the job. For instance, if you were a graduate assistant in the engineering lab, include dates you held the position, any skills acquired, or honors you received.

New York University -- MBA -- Accounting -- May 2010

Taught two sections of a freshman accounting class. Awarded the J.W. Albright Award for Excellence in Accounting. Placed 4th in a class of 52 MBA students.

Fordham University -- BA -- Accounting -- May 2007

Chosen to assist the department chairperson with a study of accounting practices in the biotechnology industry. Awarded the Herbert Franklin Prize for Economics.

It is not necessary to list high school education. If you do not have a college degree, omit the education section. Instead focus solely on work experience. Don’t forget to include on the resume any specialized training classes, particularly those relevant to the position.

Experience/Work History -- List all jobs beginning with the most recent job. Craft job descriptions to highlight the parts of each job most related to the job you want. If your work history is a little patchy due to unemployment or time spent at home taking care of children, add volunteer work. Do you volunteer at your child’s school? Are you the BoxTops for Education coordinator for the local middle school? Do you chair the fundraising committee at church? Also, include temporary positions, substitute teaching jobs, or tutoring.

Cecil, Bennett & Jones, LLC, Chartered Public Accountants -- New York, New York Staff Accountant -- June 2010-present

Coordinated the auditing of 1 million health care spending account documents. Named Employee of the Month for the February.

New York State Banking Department -- New York, New York Intern -- June 2007-August 2008

Chosen as the only intern for the 07-08 year. Handled a variety of tasks before leaving to pursue an MBA at New York University.

The more actions words used the more powerful the resume. Use action words to describe job duties and accomplishments. For your present job, use the present tense. For jobs held previously, use past tense.

Technical Skills -- Do you know a software inside and out? Do you teach a class in your field? Are you considered an expert by others? List all computer hardware, software, or network server experience. Add in coursework and training relevant to your chosen field.

References -- There’s some debate between employment experts about including the phrase “References available upon request” at the end of the page or including a separate sheet of references. Experts say that using the phrase takes up space. If you include a list of references, check that you have the most up-to-date address/phone/email for each person. As a courtesy, alert each of your references that you are adding them to your resume.

Common Resume Mistakes

Proofread your resume! Remember, your resume shows the employer who you are. A typo or grammatical error can send your resume to the shredder. Give yourself a chance by asking a friend or work colleague to read through your resume.

Look carefully at your resume before sending it to the employer, and definitely before having it printed. Check for the following common mistakes:

  • too long -- keep resume to one page
  • too skimpy -- beware of cutting too much from each job description.
  • disorganized -- if an employer can’t figure out why you are applying for the position from reading through your resume, likely you need to reorder the material
  • poorly typed or printed -- change that printer cartridge, STAT!
  • irrelevant information -- the fact that you have a sailing certificate is not relevant to the accounting leave it out
  • misspellings, typos, grammatical errors

A well-crafted resume moves you one step closer to the job of your dreams. Good Luck!