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What should be included in my resume and how should I format it?

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While the format may differ somewhat,  there are common topics to be included in the resume which include the following, not necessarily in any specific order: work experience, education; any certifications you may have; project experience if you have not worked outside school; relevant course work; interests and hobbies; extracurricular activities; clubs or organizations to which you belong; skill sets you may have or be particularly strong in, for example computer skills or fluency in another language. Regardless of what topics you ultimately choose for your resume, make it presentable on nice resume paper. Appearance of the resume and the content are equally important in today's job market.


Education (College):
Include: Area of concentration; major and minor; indicate you are a candidate for a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, for example; expected date of graduation; academic achievements, honors, awards; extra-curricular activities (sports, clubs, committees). Note any specific manner in which the school name is written, for example, we are not formally referred to as "SUNY Albany," but University at Albany, State University of New York, and as such, this is how the school should appear on your resume. If you have any certifications related to your major, or have completed any training courses, you should include them as well.
NOTE: If you have a double major, you can only list ONE degree (B.A. or B.S.) on your resume. The Undergrad Bulletin states: "Students may elect more than one major, designating which is to be considered the 'first major,' the 'second major,' etc. The first major listed shall be from the dept. from which the student elects to receive advisement. The faculty of the school or college that offers the first major shall then recommend the student for the appropriate degree. For example, a student completing the three majors Geology, History, and Philosophy would receive a B.S. degree if the first major were Geology or a B.A. degree if the first major were History or Philosophy."

Education (High School/Secondary School):
This may or may not be relevant to put in your resume. If this is your first job, and you were recognized in high school for some particular achievement, then include it. If you have been employed or are in graduate school, adding your high school name is not necessary. Include: name and location of your high school; year of graduation; major programs studied; academic achievements; honors, science fair awards; all of your extracurricular activities. Pertinent advanced courses such as any college or AP courses, drafting, computer technology, physics, calculus, machine shop and/or electronics should also be included.

Computer Background:
List all computer languages you know and computer systems you are familiar with. Include relevant software packages or applications you are familiar with that can demonstrate your skills. Also, add special computer related experiences, i.e. owning a personal computer, building your own system, writing programs or designing web pages, etc. No matter what job you  get, these skills will be relevant

Work Experience:
Include all work experiences, full or part-time, paid or volunteer. If you have had many jobs, or have been out of school for an extended period of time, or are changing focus, you may choose to list only relevant experiences or recent ones, i.e. within the last 5 years.  A common way to list them is in reverse chronological order, the most recent being first. List the position you held, specific duties, place of employment and location, and dates of employment. The description of the duties of each job should emphasize the tasks performed, indicating specialties learned, skills developed, scope of responsibility, and results achieved. Of particular importance are experiences illustrating leadership potential, organizational ability, communication skills, ingenuity, and teamwork. Use action verbs. Answer the question "What did I do?"! The employer wants to know the relevancy of this job to what you are applying for. Don't be surprised if they ask you this exact question!

You may wish to include all hobbies that you have and are involved in outside of school: model car building, martial arts, chess, surf fishing, auto mechanics, any sports you play, debating, gardening, painting, building model rockets, grooming poodles... whatever! The point to note here is this: Put something down that you want to support your presentation of yourself. Does this hobby reveal something about you that you want the employer to know? If not, think twice about including it here.

Community and Service Activities:
This section is important for those students applying to service related jobs or to graduate school, particularly medical school, other allied health professions, etc. Include all community and service related activities you were involved with in high school or are presently involved. Volunteer work is important to include here.

The Summary Section:
The summary section is optional in different types of resumes. Resumes are by their nature summary documents, but this section takes the synopsis another step toward brevity. It isolates the four or five key attributes you claim as a graduate, worker or trainee. It gives the employer a glimpse, in just a few lines, of your primary qualifications. And, as is the style of a reverse chronological document, the summary comes first or near the top of your resume.

Usually, a summary is placed directly above the education, but could go below as well. Such content will be used in a job search, whether it's in the resume, cover letter, or interview. You will be the final judge as to where it will be used, but it is wise to develop it up front. The best way to understand the Summary section is through visualizing a scene in a job search which will likely come to pass for real later on. Imagine that you are two-thirds of the way through an interview for the kind of position you seek. The interviewer begins to speak. "We've talked for twenty minutes. I've read your resume and letter. I think you can do this job. My problem is that I also think a number of other candidates can do the job too and I can only hire one of you. You don't know these others and you don't need to compare yourself. But sum it all up for me. In your view, what are the four or five main reasons why you think I would be doing the right thing by hiring you?"

Given this scenario, what would you say? In essence, this is the content for your summary. They should be brief statements - well thought out, one-liners. They should reflect a basic understanding of your field(s) and should cover: academic foundation, related and/or supporting experiences, general skills (those which would be useful in any career-oriented job, such as writing, planning, problem-solving, and being well-organized), skills specific to your field(s), and work character (what you are like to work with, perhaps including points like taking initiative, adapt easily, strong work ethic). These statements cannot help but be subjective and hard to illustrate on paper, but they can be designed to sound neither arrogant nor canned.

This may or may not be included. It can usually be assumed you will have references, and you will often be asked to include them on an information sheet or an application. If you include this line on your resume under the heading "References," the statement, "References will be supplied upon request" will suffice. It is important, however, that you are prepared to give at least three references when filling out your company application form. This would include their name and phone number at the least.


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