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Resume guide: organize your resume effectively

Personal Information

Name (no title), addresses, phone numbers, email, fax addresses or web site (should show professional skills, not personal data).

Note: A potential employer has no legal right to request information about age, gender, race, religion, marital status, health, physical appearance or personal habits. Don’t include these in your resume.

Objective or Career Interest

A clear objective tells prospective employers the type of job you want so they may evaluate your résumé. Options include:

  • Targeted: Directed to specific company and/or position
  • Functions of Job: Research, Sales, Management, or Teaching.
  • Industry/Services: Public Accounting, Agribusiness, or Hospitality.
  • Ability or Knowledge to apply to position: knowledge of ecology, investments, skills in customer services, programming, or construction.


Usually comes first for student résumés as it is a strong asset. After your first job, it will follow experience.


Here, you can use one of three formats:


Most traditional format, identifying information beginning with the most recent events listed first under each heading. Titles and organizations are prominent and duties and accomplishments within these positions are listed beneath. Good choice for candidates with work experience relevant to their career goal.

  • Advantage: Emphasizes advancement/growth, easy to read and write, traditional.
  • Disadvantage: Dramatizes short-term employment, shows gaps in
    employment, may be repetitious if tasks are similar among positions,
    and is dependent on past experience.


Focuses on skills, aptitudes and qualities that can be applied to a number of situations and may come from both paid work, activities and volunteer involvement. Skills are organized into categories that tell employers what you can do for them. (Leadership, Computer Expertise, Editing, and/or Research). Good for candidates whose employment or academic background are not related to their career interests.

  • Advantage: Maximizes your skills areas without being tied to “paid work”, eliminates repetition of similar job tasks, de-emphasizes gaps in employment.
  • Disadvantage: Not as universally welcome to employers, plays down direct experience with employer, more challenging to construct.

Combo (Chrono-Functional)

Brings together both of the above. May require careful analysis of skills to link to career goals.

May include headings for Internship/Career Experience to cluster your most relevant jobs/projects without regard to chronological order.

Optional Categories

Be certain your strengths are represented in various categories: Honors/Awards; Leadership Activities; Relevant Skills and Experience; Special Interests; and/or Accomplishments. If one of these areas, i.e. Leadership Activities, outweighs Work History as an asset, it may come before that section on your resume. You will lead with your strengths.


You have several options:

  1. Indicate “References Available Upon Request” at the bottom of resume or refer to references in your cover letter.
  2. Regardless, always prepare an additional reference page with three to five references. Include their names, titles, employers’ addresses and telephone numbers. Submit with application or present at your interview.
  3. Education candidates may be asked to supply a credential file during the application process.
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