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Every adult, including college students, should have a standard resume on file that can be customized and handed out at a moment's notice. Resumes should ideally be one page, but may extend to two pages if necessary. The most crucial role a resume performs is communicating who the applicant is. The resume should not list every detail of a person's life, only what is relevant for the job in question. Writing a professional resume may seem intimidating, but it is a simple process as long as you follow some fundamental steps.
Select a font that is easy to read. With the possible exception of art and design jobs, the resume is not a creative tool to express your personality. The choice does not have to be Times New Roman, but do not use elaborate fonts or a font that looks like handwriting or fancy script.
Type your full, professional name on the first line, centered in the middle of the page. Increase the font size to 16 or 18-point type. Your name should be larger than anything else, but not excessively so. Type relevant contact information in standard 12-point font under your name. It should be centered and should only include a phone number, e-mail address, and mailing address.
Skip a line, title a new section "Purpose" or "Objective" and include a brief statement about why you want the job you are applying for. This section intimidates many people, so they skip it. But employers like knowing that you want to work for them. Keep it brief. Emphasize your qualifications, but be appropriate and realistic. Only one or two lines are necessary. In the future, be sure to double-check this section before printing or forwarding copies. Nothing would be worse than telling an interviewer at Microsoft why you are passionate about working for Apple.
Skip a line, title a new section "Work Experience," and list your recent working background. Your three most recent employers or those with the most relevance to the position for which you are applying will be enough. But, one or two more are welcome, if they are relevant. Do not get too detailed.
Include the title of your position, the company, the month and year of your employment, and one or two details about your responsibilities. Include significant recognitions or advancements you received Just hit the high points. If interviewers want to know more, they will ask you about it in an interview. Do not skip adding your dates of employment! It will only look like an attempt to hide something.
Skip a line, title a new section "Education," and list your most recent academic experience. Depending on how long you have been out of school, this section may not need more than a line or two. Certainly, if you are still in or recently finished school, more information may be necessary.
List the institution, the degree you earned, and your major.
If you want to add a section for references or other relevant information, add it at the the end if there is room. Be careful about adding other information. Only include information that is legitimately relevant to the specific position for which you are applying. Depending on the position, some things worth listing include: foreign languages spoken with proficiency or areas of teaching certification.
If the resume is for an academic position, educational program, or you do not have significant work experience, switch the order of the academic and working experience sections.
Grace Riley has been a writer and photographer since 2005, with work appearing in magazines and newspapers such as the "Arkansas Democrat-Gazette." She has also worked as a school teacher and in public relations and polling analysis for political campaigns. Riley holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in American studies, political science and history, all from the University of Arkansas.