By DeVry University
Job searching isn’t easy. It’s a full-time job on its own, so we want to help make the process a little easier. Read on for answers to some commonly asked questions for creating a résumé that can help get you noticed by potential employers.
The Role of Your Résumé
To get started, think about this: What is the role of your résumé? Most believe that a good résumé will land you a job, but the truth is, the role of your résumé is to get you the much-wanted interview.
Your résumé should:
- Provide a historical review of experience and education,
- Highlight professional achievements,
- and most importantly, outline to the reader “Why You?”
Advertise Your Accomplishments
One of the most important things a résumé can do is highlight your unique professional achievements. Instead of listing tasks, showcase to potential employers how you perform within a professional setting by summarizing what you’re most proud of.
Let’s walk through ways to include your accomplishments. Ask yourself:
- Did you win any awards at work? Why or how?
- Did you accomplish any project goals? What was the outcome or impact?
- Have you ever received any recommendations? What about positive feedback on a performance review?
- How would others describe you? What makes you different?
Structure of a Résumé
Let’s review the parts of a résumé and what they do:
a. Your name.
Your name should be the biggest thing on the résumé because you want people to know you and remember it.
b. Your contact information.
You should include a city, state and zip code, phone number, email address and a personalized LinkedIn URL.
i. City, State and Zip:
We don’t recommend listing a physical address for safety reasons but include the city, state and zip code. If you upload your résumé into a database, then it can be searched using those details.
ii. Phone number:
Only list the phone number that you want a hiring manager to call. You don’t need to list more than one because they will only be calling one number. The number you list should have a voicemail set up, or the ability to leave a message if they can’t reach you. Also, for those of you who have playback music – think about removing it if you are doing an active job search.
Your email should be professional. If you don’t have a professional email address or are using one that features your nickname from middle school, create a new one before you start your job search. Again, this is often your first impression with a hiring manager – make it count.
iv. LinkedIn URL:
You should only list this if you have an updated LinkedIn URL. If you are going to list it on your résumé, you should personalize it through LinkedIn. If you’re a student or alumni of DeVry or Keller, meet with your career advisor to update your LinkedIn account.
v. Your résumé title.
You have options when it comes to a title for your résumé, but we recommend using either the job title for the job to which you are applying or at least three areas of expertise. This helps align your résumé to the job.
2. Summary of Qualifications
a. Three to five bullet points summarizing your top achievements and targeted qualifications.
b. This section is top résumé real estate, so make sure it’s detailed and specific. Research the right keywords to use but make sure it’s still easy to read.
a. Here you’ll include job titles, company names, city and state of work addresses and job duration (months and years).
b. Explain the tasks and responsibilities for current and previous positions and make sure they are written in the appropriate tense.
c. Contributions, accomplishments and achievements are quantified here and are unique to you.
d. Bullet points begin with strong action verbs and are concise yet detailed.
4. Education and Training
a. Make sure to list the full name of the school(s) you attended and location (city and state).
b. Include your graduation month and year (or anticipated graduation month and year).
c. Your program and major, specialization and certifications can be listed here.
d. Note any curriculum highlights, with all relevant coursework titles (no course numbers needed).
e. This is where you can list relevant projects, internships and student organizations that align with the job or industry you’re interested in.
f. Be sure to include any academic honors, based on academic catalog.
g. Your GPA should only be listed if it is 3.5/4.0 or above (be sure to include the scale “your GPA/4.0”).
5. Certification & Professional Development
a. Ask yourself, “Is this certification relevant to the job or industry?”
b. Include dates (month / year) of the certification or professional development you completed.
c. Make sure to list these in chronological order.
Want Your Résumé to Stand Out?
Frequently Asked Questions About Résumés
Now that you’re familiar with how to structure a résumé, here are some of the common questions people ask:
What about an objective statement? Should I have one?
No, objective statements are considered by many to be outdated, so we’ve moved to including a Summary of Qualifications. This section should be three to five bullet points that summarize your unique skills and experience and how they impact an organization.
Should I include non-career related information like hobbies and pictures?
No, your résumé should be professional and targeted to the position you are applying to.
How long should be résumé be?
A résumé should be long enough to showcase RELEVANT information to the reader. However, applicants often include non-relevant material which can create a longer résumé, so a good rule of thumb is to keep it to one to two pages max.
Should my résumé be custom-designed or is straight text OK?
You want to limit the amount of formatting because that can make it hard to read by an applicant tracking system, so start by creating your résumé in Microsoft Word. A more formatted, templated résumé may be better suited for someone looking to apply for jobs with a design-focused role.
Is PDF or Word better?
Usually, PDFs are easier to scan by the applicant tracking system. They’re often also easier to read by technology platforms that recruiters use.
It's OK to have some misspelled words or misuse of grammar, right?
Absolutely not. These are résumé killers and will land your résumé in the “no” pile. Always re-read your résumé and have others help proofread too.
How often should I be using personal pronouns (e.g. I, me, my) vs. “we?”
Never. The résumé is written in first person implied, meaning you write about yourself but omit personal pronouns like “I”, “my” or “we.” It’s implied that the content of the résumé is about the person whose name is at the top.
When should I share my list of references or is it better to include the phrase “References available upon request”?
This phrase is not needed on the résumé. If an employer wants references, they will request them.
Should I use passive verbs, abbreviations or acronyms?
No. You only have so much room to convince someone to call you for an interview, so use strong verbs that convey action.