WRITING WINNING RESUMES

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1 WRITING WINNING RESUMES GETTING STARTED Your resume is one of the most important documents in your job or internship search. Knowing how to create an effective resume is a skill you will utilize throughout your career. A resume is a marketing document (about YOU!) that communicates your skills and qualifications for specific opportunities. It must relay why you are a good match, using keywords and highlighting skills and characteristics appropriate for the industry, employer, and position you are interested in. Just thinking about getting started on this important task can feel overwhelming. Students often overlook how significant their experiences and accomplishments are and do not take the time to articulate them clearly. Dedicating a little time at the beginning of the process can go a long way toward making the actual formatting and writing simpler; it also ensures a stronger result on the first attempt! Take a few moments to review the following suggestions, which will help you build content for your resume: What is your Value Add? 1. Make a list of your skills, work and volunteer experience. The action word list also available in the Resume Toolkit will help stimulate your thinking around your current skills. Take 3 5 minutes to write about these experiences. It will help get you thinking about what you did, what you are proud of, and what you found meaningful. These ideas are the beginning of your bullet points. Wherever possible, think about how you contributed to the organization, project, team, etc. What impact did you make? What would your supervisor, teammates, or others say about you that indicates your value add? Perhaps you can demonstrate this with quantifiable data even better! For example, did your efforts increase sales by 20% over a 5-month period, resulting in higher revenues and improved customer interactions? Once you have this completed, you will begin to see how your experiences can be organized in a way that is unique to you AND great content for your bullets. Attempt to identify and flesh out 3 5 specific skills that will become bullets once you begin writing the actual resume. 2. Prior to writing your resume bullets, consider the following: Make three lists: one for skills and knowledge gained, a second for tasks or duties performed, and a third for results achieved. Combine these to write bullets that include all three elements. Review the job descriptions and other industry/company materials you are interested in and make a list of keywords and action verbs you see most frequently. You can use these to begin your bullet points and add your own details. (This helps to create a resume that is tailored to a specific opportunity) Current Isenberg Students: You should utilize Optimal Resume. This will help standardize your formatting and content. For assistance logging in, see the Optimal Resume Quick Start Guide.

2 FORMATTING BASICS Determining how to format your resume can be confusing. There is no one specific way or format to use, however, the following suggestions can help you avoid some common mistakes. 1. Don t use Microsoft, Adobe or other templates. Templates limit what you can include and force font sizes and styles. They also don t always transfer correctly when sent electronically and can therefore look disjointed on another computer. 2. Use bullets instead of writing paragraphs. Bullets allow for directing the eye to key actions words and phrases. Bullets also make your content easier to read and understand. 3. Limit it to one page. Most undergraduates do not have the depth of experience to support two pages. While this can pose a challenge for those with significant experience and requires careful editing, a one-page resume is a best practice and what employers expect from a current student or recent graduate. 4. Leave some white space. The standard margin is 1 inch. However a smaller margin (no less than.5) can be used if white space is used effectively in other areas of the resume. 5. Be consistent with format. Use the same font style, sizes, placement of headers, etc. throughout the document. A simple and easy-to-read font style, such as Times New Roman, Calibri, Arial or Tahoma, is recommended. If you choose to use larger font sizes on your headers, be certain to do so consistently. Also be consistent in the spacing between bullets. NOTE: Sometimes it is tempting to cut and paste information from a previous document into a new resume. Be careful when doing this as you will transfer the old formatting which may not be consistent with the new document s. 6. Be consistent if you use bold, italics, underline and CAPITAL LETTERS in your resume. Do not use too many of these elements. 7. Use space effectively. Follow these general guidelines for the amount of space on the page that should be dedicated to each section of the resume: Name and Contact Information: 5% Education: 10 15% Relevant Experience and/or skills: 75% Other (activities, awards, memberships, computer skills, interests): 5 10% 1

3 OVERALL PRESENTATION PAPER: When presenting your resume in person or mailing hard copies, print your resume using a good printer and on high-quality paper. Look for specifically marked resume paper in neutral colors, white, off-white or egg shell. Pay attention to the watermark and try to print your resume in a consistent direction. ERROR FREE: Make sure your resume is error free, both in spelling and grammar. Spell check won t catch everything, so re-read it yourself. Ask others to read looking specifically for spelling and grammatical errors. One effective way to do this is to read the resume backwards, starting at the bottom of the page. Because you are focusing only on the words, you are more likely to catch the errors. CONCISE and EASY TO READ: Use the minimum number of words to convey your meaning. Eliminate unneeded words such as a, an, and the from your bullets. Use short, concise bullets that begin with strong action verbs. Ensure consistency of tenses and that tenses correspond with time of experience. If the experience is in the past, use past tense verbs. AVOID ACRONYMS and ABBREVIATIONS: Spell out names, especially those related to campus specific activities. In some cases, the use of an acronym to spell a professional organization (ex: APICS. APICS is an industry recognized professional organization for operations management professionals) is accepted as it is an industry norm. AVOID PERSONAL PRONOUNS: Do not use I, me, my, or other personal pronouns in your resume. Write in third person. AVOID Hanging Widows : Hanging Widows are when one or two words wrap to a second line. These take up space and can usually be avoided with careful editing. SPECIFIC RESUME FORMATTING STYLES Reverse Chronological Format (Most Common): This format presents your education and work experience in reverse chronological order (most current to least current). This format is typically used when your experience is most directly related to the opportunity you are seeking. A chronological format is commonly recommended for college students but there can be variations. Functional Format: A functional format presents your experience under major skill headings, while job titles, employers and dates are listed separately. This format can be effective when your experience or degree is not directly related to an opportunity and you are highlighting relevant skills which make you a good fit for the position. Combination Format: For some applications, a combination format can be appropriate. If only some of your experience is directly related to the position, the combination format allows you to make the strongest impact by separating experience into categories and placing the most relevant first. Within each of these categories, list the experiences in reverse chronological order. 2

4 RESUME CONTENT Resumes consist of the following sections: Contact Information (Name, address, phone number, address, LinkedIn URL) Education include Study Abroad in this section o Honors and Awards Experience Activities Skills Interests CONTACT INFORMATION The top of your resume should include your full name, your home (permanent) and school address, one phone number and one address. Including your home address can signal the location of the position you will be seeking. Some employers only hire local candidates. Make sure: Your name is one/two font sizes bigger than all other content Your address is professional o EX of a GOOD o EX of a POOR You have created a professional sounding voice mail message (and cleared any distracting ring back tones from your phone) EDUCATION Education should be presented in reverse chronological order and include: Name of the College or University At The Isenberg School of Management, we recommend the following format to emphasize the national reputations of BOTH the University and the Isenberg School of Management: Example: University of Massachusetts Amherst Amherst, MA Isenberg School of Management Commonwealth Honors College students can highlight this accomplish in this way: University of Massachusetts Isenberg School of Management Degree Commonwealth Honors College Amherst, MA Sport Management majors will want to also highlight the name Mark H. McCormack for the department: University of Massachusetts Amherst, MA Isenberg School of Management Mark H. McCormack Department of Sport Management 3

5 Bachelor of Science in Sport Management Degree/s to be conferred Write out the name of the degree and what it is in. Candidate, 20XX BBA should be written out as: Bachelor of Business Administration in (Marketing, Management, Finance, Accounting, Operations & Information Management) BS should be written out as: Bachelor of Science in (Hospitality & Tourism Management, Sport Management) Expected Date of graduation even if you will be walking prior to the date of graduation. The date should be placed on the right margin opposite the degree so it is visible. Minor/s and Tracks or Focuses should be written under your degree. GPA. The standard rule is that a GPA of 3.0 or above should be included. If your major-specific GPA is higher, you may want to use that one instead. You can include both if they each are impressive. You may use 2 decimal points but do not round up. EX: Cumulative GPA: 3.18, Major GPA: 3.63 Transfer information from another school (if appropriate) Academic honors and awards should be listed last in your education section. Make a bullet point to show Dean s List, scholarships, etc. Study Abroad experiences are listed after all of your UMass Amherst/Isenberg information. List them as you would any other school by giving the name of the University or program and dates you were there (Summer 2013, Fall 2013, etc.) Relevant courses are OPTIONAL, but may be included in this section of your resume. If you choose to include them, put your courses in a list OR highlight a relevant class project that is bulleted in the manner of a job experience. You don t have to list all courses you have taken for your major. For example, if you are a Finance major, it is a given that you would have taken Financial Modeling, Investments, and Corporate Finance as these are common to every Finance major curriculum. Only list the courses that will differentiate you or make you better suited to the position for which you are applying. EXPERIENCE This section of your resume provides the best opportunity to market skills and attributes through strategic content organization and the use of concisely written, accomplishment-oriented bullets. Organizing your content by listing the MOST RELEVANT (to the job or industry) experience first highlights content readers are most interested in seeing. Experience can include the following: Paid work experience off-campus/summer jobs and on-campus jobs Unpaid experience internships, volunteer work, club/org sponsored activity Leadership experience especially if in an industry-related activity (ex: Leadership in a student/campus organization directly related to an industry) For many students, experience may not always be directly related to an industry and presents an opportunity to demonstrate transferable skills. These are skills used in a variety of experiences that can be applied to many different opportunities. A careful review of the job description will help you identify what those skills may be. 4

6 Helpful tips: Use strong action verbs and active voice. Avoid responsible for and assisted with. You want to show ownership and importance. A list of action verbs is provided at the end of this handout. Indicate progressive increases in responsibility. You can show increased responsibility over a one-time experience or multiple experiences with the same employer. Highlight the position title or employer name. If the name of your employer is impressive or known in a particular industry, use that first. If your title carries more impact and you worked for a lesser known company, use your title first. ACTIVITIES This section encompasses any extracurricular activities outside of the classroom, including dlubs, sports, volunteer, community or civic engagement, etc. HOWEVER, if you already listed the organization/activity elsewhere, do not repeat information in this section. If you held a leadership position, be sure to indicate this. In some instances, an activity may be worthy of 1 2 bullets depending on the level of responsibility held and type of impact. If you have several activities (more than 4 or 5), you may want to avoid listing all of them. Recruiters want to see clubs/orgs because it shows contribution, time management, dedication to your major/industry of interest, and can offer an opportunity to utilize skills that you may not be illustrating elsewhere. Some clubs are college chapters of nationally recognized organizations. Your affiliation with them is important to recruiters and demonstrates strong industry interest and likely involvement in conferences and other valuable activities. Leadership in these organizations is highly desirable. SKILLS This section is for computer (technical, software, programming, licenses, certifications, etc.) and language skills ONLY. You should NEVER list things like good communication skills or customer service ability in this section. Those are considered soft skills and should be highlighted in the bullets in your Experience section. Computer Skills: College students typically have a good grasp of MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint and to some degree, Access. If you are highly proficient in one type of software (especially if relevant to the position), be sure to indicate this. Ex: Computer Skills: MS Word, PowerPoint and Access. Highly proficient in MS Excel (pivot tables and v-lookups). There may be additional software you are familiar with that you can include. You DO NOT need to indicate internet proficient. Unless you utilize a very specific internet research or analytics tool, employers expect you can use the internet. Language Skills: Being proficient or fluent in a second language is highly desirable. Make sure to indicate your level of proficiency. Fluency in English is assumed and therefore unnecessary to include. Ex: Language Skills: Fluent in Spanish and Portuguese. Conversational in Mandarin. INTERESTS This section is optional and can include references to hobbies and travel experiences. In some cases, interests can be relevant to career pursuits. For example, the fact that you manage your own stock portfolio would be very interesting to some employers in the financial industry. Extensive travel experiences may help support your interest in international career opportunities. If you do include this section, make sure it is compelling; indicating an interest in Sports, Working Out, or Reading do not differentiate you in any way. If this section is included on the resume, you are likely to be asked about it in an interview. Make sure you have something to talk about. 5

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