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Resume Help  

A guide to writing resumes and cover letters.
Last Updated: May 3, 2012 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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Writing Winning Resumes

Power Point presentation formt he Montana Library Association 2012 Annual Conference

Pocket Resume

Pocket Resume- Print out this resume, fill it in, fold it up and put it in your pocket. This will help you complete job applications with out asking for the phone book!


Curriculum vitae

A curriculum vitae (singular form, noun), meaning "course of (one's) life, (vee-tie or vi-tee) (definition and pronunciation options on Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary) is a document that gives much more detail than does a resume about your academic and professional accomplishments.

Curricula vitae (plural form, noun) are most often used for academic or research positions, whereas resumes are the preferred documents in business and industry.

The informal shortened form, "vita" standing alone, meaning a brief biographical sketch (definition and pronunciation on Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary), is singular, while "vitae," is plural.


Maintain your resume

Update your resume every year- even if you are not job hunting. It will save you time when you do decide to look for another job.

Your Resume

Your resume gives the first impression of who you are to a potential employer and is critical for getting an interview.
A resume summarizes your experiences, skills, and education concisely and effectively.
Each resume should be targeted towards the position you are seeking.

What to Avoid

  • Too Much Information. It's good to be detailed, but some information should be omitted from your resume.
  • Don't exaggerate, lie about your previous salary, employment history, or education credentials. Click here for the most frequently fabricated information on a resume.
  • Skip irrelevant information, include only the skills that would qualify you for the position.
  • Exclude outdated information. Include work history from your past three positions.
  • Spelling And Grammar Errors

  • Redundancies- You don't want to waste precious space on your resume by including redundant information.
  • Formatting -Make the essential information easy to find. With a good format all of your accomplishments will be easy to spot, and you will improve your chances of landing that interview.

Resume Styles

Chronological Format

Used when you are seeking a position related to your education and experiences.

Information is listed in reverse chronological order within each major section with
descriptions of responsibilities and achievements listed under each experience.

Functional Format

Useful if you are seeking a position not directly related to your degree or work experiences.

Information is listed under major skill headings, while job titles, employers, and dates are listed separately.

Resume Appearance

Resume length varies with career field.

Resumes may be one or two pages long (rarely longer than two pages).

Use standard fonts such as Times New
Roman or Arial.

11-point or 12-point font size is best.

Black ink only.

Limit different font styles—bolding and CAPITALIZING are the best methods to make information stand out.

Avoid underlining and italics in case your resume gets scanned (see information on Digital Resumes)


  • Solid dots  or squares only

Quality resume paper printed on a quality printer.

White or off-white paper is best.

Spelling and grammar must be flawless. Ask several friends to proofread.

File Type
Write your resume in Microsoft Word.
Avoid resume templates.
Save as a Word document
For the file name use: Last name_First name Resume.doc .

Resume Elements

Contact Information

Full name (as it appears on legal documents),

Permanent and current address and phone number with area code (do not use parentheses),

Appropriate email address (if needed create a new email account to use for your job search).



State briefly and effectively the type of position you are seeking.

Be as specific as possible.

Do not use the word “I.”

Avoid clichés, jargon, or philosophical statements.



List degrees in reverse chronological order.

Include institution, city, state; degree, major, month and year of graduation; minor, area of concentration.

Some employers want to see your GPA (overall, major, or both). Be sure to include the GPA scale (X.X/4.0).


Relevant Coursework (optional)

Courses relevant to position you are seeking.

List titles, not course numbers.

Include Study Abroad and senior projects here.


Certifications (optional)

For relevant career fields only.

Field Experience or Clinical Experience (optional)

For relevant career fields only, such as teaching, health fields, etc.

Incorporate same information as below (see Related Experience).


Related Experience

Work experiences, paid and unpaid, that are related to your career filed.

Include internships/coop experiences and other related part-time or full-time jobs.

Include employer, city, state; job title, dates of employment.

Underneath this information, put a concise bulleted list of accomplishments, responsibilities, and skills utilized in the experience; start each bullet with an action verb (see list).


Other Work Experience

Work experiences, paid and unpaid, that are NOT related to your career field.

Be selective. While it is important to show a work history, it is not necessary to include every job you have ever had.

Incorporate same information as above (see Related Experience).



List of most relevant activities and offices first; may add hobbies and interests if they are relevant to job or reveal characteristics important to job or leadership experience.

May include brief explanatory details. Add dates.



May be a separate section (if you have several honors), or a combined section named Activities and Honors.

May include honor societies, awards, scholarships, Dean’s List, etc. Include dates.


Skills (optional)

Special skills relevant to job position, such as computer hardware or software, foreign languages, sign language, laboratory skills, or other skills important to your career field.


References (optional)

Do not list your references on your resume unless it is requested in the job posting.

You may write “Available Upon Request” or “Enclosed”.

Have a separate prepared list of 3-5 references available (including their name, title, organization, address, phone number, and e-mail address if possible).

Don’t forget to ask permission prior to listing individuals as references. Your name should be at the top of the list.


Miscellaneous tips

Put your name at the top of the second page of a two-page resume.

Do not staple pages together.

Do not include personal information such as marital status, age, ethnic origin, etc.

Avoid resume templates. In general, do not include high school information after sophomore year of college.


Digital Resumes
You may be required to submit your resume digitally by e-mail, posting to a website, or your resume may be scanned into the employer’s computer system.

Keywords are used by most electronic search and retrieval processes. Keywords are nouns and phrases that highlight areas of expertise, including industry buzz words and jargon, skills, projects, achievements, etc. Review the job description and include words within it. Keywords should replace action verbs on your resume.

When submiting a resume elecronically the formatting used when creating your document may not translate well. To make sure that the presentation of your resume is preserved do the following:

  • Under Page Setup, save your margins so that you have 6.5 inches of text displayed (1” left and right margins).
  • Select all text and change the font to Courier 12-point font.
  • Save as file type Plain Text. This will eliminate all formatting, so replace underlining and bullets with asterisks, hyphens, or all caps.
  • Left-justify all text.


Action Verbs

Leadership & Management

administered guided organized attained headed performed conducted hired produced contracted implemented reduced controlled incorporated repositioned
coordinated initiated retained directed instituted revised employed maintained strengthened enacted managed supervised exceeded marketed trimmed executed monitored turned around
expanded motivated undertook grouped obtained

Promotion & Sales
accounted for influenced recommended convinced launched represented generated marketed secured improved persuaded sold increased promoted targeted Organization & Implementation advised decreased redesigned analyzed distributed reorganized arranged enlarged restructured budgeted examined reviewed catalogued expanded revised collaborated facilitated scheduled consulted generated sponsored compared improvised strengthened compiled increased synthesized completed indexed systematized computed leveraged verified
Research & Development analyzed differentiated researched automated equated searched classified experimented solved designed invented structured determined investigated synthesized
developed related theorized

assured eliminated pioneered accomplished evaluated proposed awarded handled recruited balanced identified resolved closed improved satisfied corrected investigated sorted
determined mediated strengthened diverted negotiated surpassed Interpersonal Communications approved facilitated prepared counseled instructed presented demonstrated interviewed presided disseminated moderated served as edited participated wrote

Initiative & Creativity

arranged enhanced prepared conceived formulated produced created initiated refined designed invented reshaped developed innovated resolved devised originated solved enabled packaged structured


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