resume writing help

November 22, 2005 at 12:10 AM · does anyone have some advice on writing a resume as far as what should be included and not included. also, if i graduate in may how do i list that degree when i don't officially have it yet? any thoughts would be helpful!

Replies (6)

November 22, 2005 at 12:23 AM · I would just write the degree and the school, and beside it in parenthesis put (May, 2006). Don't include dates with the others in the list.

November 22, 2005 at 12:54 AM · thanks! any advice as far as what else should be a part or the format? is list okay?

November 23, 2005 at 03:57 PM · You don't give much detail so its hard to offer advice specific to your situation. I'll offer up some generic tips. If you have some work experience it should take precedence over your education background. Detail the work experience in list format and follow it with a summary of your education like

University of Kegstand 2000-2004 BA in Arts

College of Fun and Games 2004-2006 Masters in Fun (Jan 2006)

That's it. If you don't have much work experience to talk about then expand the education section and include two or three examples of high-level course work relevant to the position you are applying for as well as references to any extra-curricular activities that have some bearing on the position you are applying for.

My personal experience is that education background was never a consideration after the first two or three years of my career. After that prospective employers only cared about what jobs I'd held, where, and what specifically I did at those companies which made me a valuable employee.

Good luck

November 23, 2005 at 05:45 PM · I've pulled these excerpts from my own Web site.

I have been in business for myself nearly ten years, and résumé-writing is my dominant occupation. I'm not interested in promoting myself here, and I'm not looking for more work; so consider this the equivalent of free legal advice. If you'd like to see the site itself, e-mail me, and I'll give you the link privately.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

I try to put myself into your position and ask myself these questions:

1. What if I were the applicant presenting this material to a prospective employer?

2. How would I want it to look? How would I want it to sound?

3. What are the strong points I'd like the employer to notice right away?

4. Is this piece something I would be proud to have go out over my own signature?

Spelling, punctuation, and grammar are crucial. Lapses in these areas can detract from impressive credentials and performance. And they can sink your credibility.

Don't send a résumé without a cover letter — unless an employer has instructed you otherwise. Make the letter less than one full page — with short paragraphs. It introduces you to a prospective employer and should clearly state:

1. Your objective regarding the position you're seeking.

2. Your key qualifications.

3. If possible, one or two specific examples of your achievements.

Be sure you have a definite interest in working for any company you are writing to, and let your interest show in the letter. Don't address the letter to "Dear Sir or Madam" or "Dear Human Resources Manager," etc. Take the time to find out the name of the individual who does the hiring, and address this person by name.

Also, don't just close with the well-worn "I look forward to hearing from you." The odds are that you won't hear. Instead, promise to phone during the next week to schedule an appointment so that you and the prospective employer may discuss your qualifications in detail.


This should be a compact list, displayed in short lines, showing strong points of yours that are relevant to the job you're seeking. For instance, if you have a particular bent for — or experience in — teaching and training, safety issues, writing company manuals, or event coordination, mention it.


Try to list perhaps three or four significant accomplishments from your work history. Here is one example, drawn from my own experience during 1991 and 1992:

Developed and implemented computerized database record-keeping system. This enabled a whole department to retire its manual card-file system and drastically cut daily record-keeping time.


If your work history is extensive, it's generally better to include only the last ten years or so — and only those positions that are relevant to your current job search. List the most recent assignment first and continue in reverse-chronological order:

 Years of service; e.g., 1994–1998

 Name of company

 City, state (or country, if applicable)

 Position title(s)

 Highlights of responsibilities

Keep the job descriptions brief. If I start to get bored while reading them, you may be sure the employer is going to get bored.

Try to emphasize things you did in the position that made you a standout and produced long-term benefits for the company. Employers want to know what you've been doing; but — still more important — they want to know what you can do and what you're particularly good at doing.

Note: In general, for jobs other than your most recent assignment, the descriptions can be greatly condensed or even omitted, depending on the overall length, tone, and emphasis of your piece.


Since the computer is in nearly every workplace these days — no matter how large or small a part it may play in the job you're seeking — be sure to list any computer skills you have; e.g., operating systems and software programs.


List any such items that are relevant to your current job search. Include, if possible, the year(s) of each training or certification course.


List the most recent degree or diploma first and continue in reverse-chronological order:

 Year graduated

 Name of institution

 City, state (or country, if applicable)

 Degree or diploma given; e.g., Ph.D., B.A., etc.

 Field of study

Skip the following, and don't, as a rule, bring them up in an interview — unless a prospective employer asks for them:


Membership organizations

Reason(s) for leaving former position(s)

Personal information

Occasionally, memberships may be relevant to the job search. In this case, they may be included.

"Don't get personal." Skip your date of birth, marital status, children's names, health status, and similar items.


Don't include references as part of the résumé document. Even the well-worn phrase "available on request" should be dropped. Keep your reference list ready in case an employer brings up the subject of references during an interview or phone visit.

Try to convey quiet dedication and professionalism. Aim for clarity, simplicity, and compactness. Employers should not have to search through dense, long paragraphs to find information. The main points should stand out instantly and be easy for the eye to scan. To achieve this, use short, separate lines.

Despite what some professed experts may tell you, your finished résumé doesn't have to fit on one page. A piece up to two pages is still manageable; but employers generally put aside — and often discard — anything longer. [With] a curriculum vitae, it's not uncommon to exceed 30 pages.

If you print your final document, use plain white 8½ x 11 paper. Forget the special textures and colors.

Internet Postings

For Net postings, you will need a text-only version of your résumé:

 Courier (typewriter) font — 12-point size (10 characters per inch)

 6½-inch line (65 characters per line — maximum)

 All lines left-justified and blocked from left margin

 No headers or footers

 No formatting — i.e., no boldface, underlining, italics, or indents

 No bullets


Copyright © 1997–2005 by Jim Hastings. All rights reserved.

November 23, 2005 at 07:24 PM · Hi, Jim: I write resumes, too (although it is not my dominant activity). Your advice is right on the button. I might do a couple of things differently, but on the whole if people would follow this kind of advice, they'd have a much, much better chance of getting the job they want. I hope lots of people read your suggestions.

Nice going.

Cordially, Sandy Marcus

November 23, 2005 at 06:07 PM · Yes, lots of very good tips there. Especially about spelling/grammar. That is my first filter for reviewing resumes.

One other thing to keep in mind - it is increasingly likely you will be google'd before you are even met by the prospective employer. Careful what you put online. Sharing your innermost thoughts with the world at large is... well I don't know what it is other than real trendy lately, but remember that someone might read that some day and draw some conclusions about you, your personality, etc which you will then have to deal with.

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