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UMGC Career Connection Simple Steps for Crafting a Successful Resume

UMGC Career Services
By UMGC Career Services

Crafting an effective resume is a crucial step towards impressing recruiters during your job search. Your resume serves as a personal marketing tool, showcasing your qualifications and experiences to potential employers. No single type of resume is perfect for every job opportunity, and the industry in which you work will help determine what your resume should look like. While your resume should be adaptable, successful resumes share fundamental features that contribute to their effectiveness in capturing the attention of recruiters.

Formatting Your Resume

Your resume is like an advance messenger who greets potential employers and explains why you would be a terrific hire. That means your resume should include important details about you, such as:

  • Work history and accomplishments
  • Hard and soft skills
  • Education

A well-tailored resume presents this information in a clear way, using bullet points. Employers should be able to quickly read the resume and see what makes you a good job candidate. Most resumes are formatted in one of the following ways:

  • Chronological. This format begins with your most recent job before moving into the past, job by job.
  • Functional. This format emphasizes your skills before your job history. Many workers use this format if they have gaps in their work history or if they have recently made a change to a new career.

Some workers combine these two formats, presenting a blend of both their work history and their relevant skills and giving each equal weight.

Including the Right Information in Your Resume

After settling on a format, you can begin filling in your resume with key details. This might include:

  1. A summary or objective statement: A summary that quickly lists your experience and skills will help to highlight your professional or academic success. On the other hand, an objective statement might include your career goals that can briefly explain your desired career pathway. 
  2. Education, degrees and certifications: Include a section that highlights where you went to school and the degrees you earned. This is especially important for workers who do not yet have an extensive work history. Also, highlight certifications that are relevant to the job for which you are applying. 
  3. Job history and skills: This is probably the most important part of a resume. Here, you want to list all professional details that are relevant to the job you seek. This includes both a recap of your work history, and individual skills and accomplishments. It is important to be specific in this section. Talk about your skills and how you used them to achieve specific, measurable results.

Avoiding Resume Mistakes

A good resume can sell you to potential employers. By contrast, making mistakes in this document can limit the effectiveness of your job search so make sure to proofread and strive for an error-free resume.

For example, some employers set up filters in their software to search for keywords in resumes. If you fail to include the right keywords, your resume might not make it to a recruiter. Since machines read the majority of resumes, more candidates are screened out before their resumes reach recruiters. That means recruiters do not have to wade through as many resumes as in the past and can spend the time necessary to read through resumes that fit their candidate criteria.

  • Skip using charts tables and graphics: Maintain simple formatting throughout your resume so that nothing is missed when your resume is scanned during the initial screening process. Avoid usage of icons and any graphics that will detract from the body of your resume.
  • Do not use “I” to describe your experiences: It is best practice to not use first or third pronouns when describing your previous work. Use action verbs to clearly and concisely explain your most important contributions.
  • Do not Include personal data: Do not add information such as your social security number, photo ID, date of birth, or other sensitive information.
  • Do not include negative information: This information can pertain to why you left your previous job or negative thoughts about old employers. Having that information on your resume will reflect poorly on you and hurt your chances at being considered for a new role.

Learning More

For more information on how to craft a well written resume check out our Resume Tips from Career Advisors. If you require immediate resume assistance, log into your CareerQuest account and utilize the VMock resume tool that will provide immediate feedback on your resume and offer ideas on how to enhance it.