How To Write an Effective Resume

Add sparkle and effective presentation to your resume! Here are 10 simple tips to help your resume communicate effectively and stand out from the crowd!


Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs. - Henry Ford

The essentials of any job search include writing an effective resume, drafting a cover letter, and securing an interview. The process can seem complicated, but by implementing a few general guidelines and breaking the task into manageable steps, you can approach the job search with confidence.

Building a solid resume may seem like a daunting task, but it is the first step to establishing yourself as a qualified candidate for a position. Remember that the resume is not going to get you the job. Its purpose is to catch the attention of the recruiter and get you an interview. Your resume is your foot in the door, and it needs to make an impression from the start. Let's get started.

The Beginning: Building Your Resume

A resume is simply a list of your previous work and educational experience. It allows a future employer to get a quick glimpse of your accomplishments. It should be easy to read and should flow in a chronological sequence.

You will start with your contact information, including your name, address, phone number, and email. You might also want to include your social media contact information as well (Twitter handle, LinkedIn Profile, etc.) if it is relevant to the position for which you are applying.

Near your contact information, be sure to include an Objective. All this section does is describe to the hiring manager your reason for submitting a resume. A sample of this would be:

Objective: To obtain a part-time marketing position with JAED Global Media Group.

The next item will be a record of your Work Experience. In this section, you will want to list your previous employers, dates that you worked for them, and the list of job duties for which you were responsible. A simple example:

Tulare County Attorney's Office June 2005- November 2009
Assistant Docket Administrator

Scheduled weekly court dates for offenders of misdemeanor violations
Served as file clerk for all misdemeanor files
Coordinated with the police department for courtroom transportation
Managed courtroom docket when the Docket Administrator was not present

These bulleted points allow a recruiter to get a quick overview of what you did at your previous jobs. Do not include unnecessary information. For instance, you do not need to add that you know how to use a telephone and return email, which are expected skills for any position in an office setting. Try to focus on the duties that were unique strictly to your position.

You will need to include your Educational background. Do not be intimidated by this concept. Whether you have your GED or your Ph.D., it is a necessary item for any resume. If you have a college or graduate degree, there is no need to include your high school information. If you have only recently graduated high school or have limited educational experience, be sure to include it. You can place your educational attainment before or after your work experience. Examples would be:

Orange Valley High School, Orange Valley, CA
High School Diploma, May 2010

Albright Community College, Orange Valley, CA
Associate of Business Administration, May 2012

The final component of your resume should be any accomplishments that you have achieved or any skills that would make you more qualified for the position. This section can also include any of your civic duties or academic achievements. If you are a whiz at Adobe Photoshop or speak fluent Spanish, be sure to mention it. An example:

Skills and Accomplishments:
Fluent Spanish speaker, Trained on Adobe Photoshop CC, Treasurer of Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society, Member of Rotary Club

Now that you have the necessary building blocks, here are a few rules to keep in mind as you begin writing:

Be Honest: Save yourself the trouble and never lie. By lying, you may be promising a set of skills that you do not have, and your employer will quickly determine that you are not qualified for the position. Employers often do background research on the information you provided, and if a potential employer finds even a minor lie, you will lose any chance of getting the job.

Be Brief: You should try to keep your resume to a single page. Many recruiters simply do not have the time to review the five pages that you painstakingly compiled. Quantity does not outshine quality, and employers do not need to know every accolade you have ever accomplished. They just don't have the time. A good phrase to keep in mind: Be brief...but amazing!

Be Relevant: If space is limited, only include the work or educational experience that is related to the position for which you are applying. For example, if you are applying for an accounting position, and have worked five other jobs in a similar capacity, be sure to include those in your resume. There is no pressing need to include the fact that you were a lifeguard at a summer camp in June 2008. It's great that you can rock a red swimsuit, but a prospective employer doesn't need to know!

Be Direct: Avoid jargon and overused corporate language. Use simple and straightforward wordage that would be understandable to the person who would be reviewing your resume.

Be Thorough: If you have been with multiple employers, be sure to give a reason for leaving beneath each of your positions that you have listed. Although this is not mandatory, it is considerate to tell hiring managers why you left a company. There are many valid reasons for leaving a company or seeking employment elsewhere. "Received an offer with better pay" or "Needed to stay home with my first baby" are good examples of why you chose to change jobs.

Be Measurable: Not every aspect of a job can be quantified, but if you previously worked in an industry that deals primarily in business metrics, be sure to describe the value that you had brought to your job. A good example of this would be, "Increased direct sales revenue by 40% from January 2011 to January 2013 by offering client-based incentive programs."

Be Correct: Even if the job you are applying for has nothing to do with writing, assure that your resume is free from spelling, grammatical, and typographic errors. Errors look sloppy and unprofessional, and employers appreciate communication skills and attention to detail. Use a good spelling and grammar checker (most word processing programs have them built in) and take the time to get it right.

You are on the right track to securing a job if you implement these rules as you write your resume. Be sure to pay attention to detail, and do not rush the process. You can do this!