eneral Guidelines for Resume Writing

1. If possible, limit your resume to one or two pages. The “experts” say that the average employer only examines a resume for 20 seconds before they make a decision whether to interview or not. Employers receive many resumes and usually have to skim them. Since people do not want to waste time reading, long descriptions of job responsibilities are not as effective as short powerful phrases.

2. Make your resume visually attractive and easy to read - without clutter. Leave sufficient margins so that the page is not overcrowded.

3. Be accurate, honest, positive, and careful. There is nothing wrong with de-emphasizing detrimental information, but outright lying is a big mistake. It can get you into trouble later. Find creative ways to capitalize on what you have to offer, instead of resorting to treachery and deceit .

4. Make the organization of the resume clear to the reader. Establish a system of bolding, underlining, capital lettering and identification - and be consistent.

5. Don’t be “wishy-washy” in describing your experience. Use action words and emphasize skills. Compare these 2 statements:
1) “I made cookies....”
2) “Managed the production of baked goods....”

6. Choose an appropriate style to emphasize your strengths and to de-empha size your weaknesses.

7. Always have your resume typed. See the Yellow Pages (under Resume or Printing) to have your resume professionally prepared.

Unless a employer specifically requests that your resume be handwritten (which is very rare) you should have your resume typed. A businesslike serif or sanserif typestyle will give the most professional impression. At My Personal Secretary we suggest Times-Roman (this typestyle) because it is the most well accepted typestyle. There are many variations of Times-Roman which have different names but are also well accepted. Frequently sanserif typestyles are used for resumes but the drawback with sanserif typestyles (like Helvetica, Swiss, Arial, etc.) is that they are tiring to the eye when read for extensive periods of time. If you are looking for a creative typestyle, a non-cursive script (such as Quincy or Chancery) would be easier to read than a fancy cursive style. We never recommend a “headline” typestyle for anything other than headings because most “headline” typestyles only have an uppercase character set.


The old saying that “first impressions are the best impressions” generally may or may not be true- but in the case of “resume reviewing” you had better believe that the first impression of the resume is of the highest importance. A well written resume on a high quality paper will always be more impressive than one on 20# white copy paper or thin typing paper.
At My Personal Secretary we always recommend using standard letter size.

“Bond” paper is really a misleading term. Many different papers are called “bond” and not all of them are high quality. We generally recommend one of the linen, laid, or wove papers produced by Neekosa or in the “Classic” line by Neenah. All of these papers are offered in 24# (slightly thicker than standard), and all are available with matching envelopes. The “Classic” series also includes some high quality recycled papers. Many books and self-proclaimed “experts” will advise you to only use white paper, but most job seekers use 20# white paper, your resume may command more attention if you use an “off-white” paper. Ivory, Natural, White, Gray, and “stone” papers will stand out more than white and are well accepted as standard business stationaries.

The textured papers (i.e. linens and laids) will provide a more substantial feel than smooth papers and may stand out better than a smooth (i.e. wove or index) paper. Linen papers are easy to photocopy on, and if you are typing envelopes or letters on a standard typewriter or laser printer, you will find linen texture to be easy to work with.

Envelopes and Folders

Standard size business envelopes (#10) are perfectly acceptable to present your resume in if you are mailing it. Many employment seekers prefer to present their resume in a 9 x 12 inch envelope, because with the larger envelope the resume and accompanying information does not have to be folded. Specially designed resume folders may be a good way to insure that your resume commands attention. Most professional resume writing services such as My Personal Secretary offer envelopes in both sizes and resume folders in a variety of paper styles.

Standard size business envelopes (#10) are perfectly acceptable to present your resume in if you are mailing it. Many employment seekers prefer to present their resume in a 9 x 12 inch envelope, because with the larger envelope the resume and accompanying information does not have to be folded. Specially designed resume folders may be a good way to insure that your resume commands attention. Most professional resume writing services such as My
Personal Secretary offer envelopes in both sizes and resume folders in a variety of paper styles.

Resume Formats
Chronological :

The “Chronological” format is the most common and best accepted resume format. This format generally lists, in reverse chronological order, your education, employment, honors, awards, and any other information which you think might be important to landing a position. A chronological resume is extremely effective when your work history shows a progression of skills and responsibilities.

The Chronological Resume highlights steady career growth and makes it clear that your client is ready for the next step up. This is the most popularly used and accepted format because it is logical and easy to follow. It is used when you have a steady work history, clear career path, no gaps, and when the most recent job is related to career objective. When using this format, list past employers and education by dates in reverse order with the most recent experience listed first. Also, this format usually puts the most important information first because it is usually the most recent information.

The Chronological Resume should not be used when the job seeker:

• Has gaps in his employment record.
• Is planning a career change.
• Has a lack of work experience.

Targeted and Functional:

Many “experts” trust the “Targeted” and “Functional” formats as two distinctly different styles, but in reality they both are used to emphasize your skills and abilities (instead of your previous work and educational periods). The targeted and functional resumes may be more suitable than a chronological resume for individuals who are interested in a career change or who have had frequent workplace changes. Individuals who want to emphasize their personal skills and abilities (artists, craftsmen, machinists or almost any skilled worker) in a particular field will find that a targeted or functional resume will work well for them. This style of resume will list as bulleted items each skill, ability and achievement. Other information (such as work history or educational history) can be listed briefly or omitted altogether.

The Functional or Targeted Resume can be a good format for the job seeker in the following instances:

• When he wants to emphasize capabilities not used in recent work experience.
• When he is changing careers.
• When he is entering a job market after an absence.
• If his career growth in the past has not been good.
• When he has had a variety of different, relatively unconnected work experiences.
• Where much of his work had been free-lance, consulting or temporary

The Functional Resume is not a good format to use for the job seeker who:

• When he wants to emphasize his management growth pattern.
• When he has worked in a traditional field such as teaching, ministerial, political, where the specific employers are of paramount interest.
• Where he has performed a limited number of functions in his work.
• When his most recent employers have been highly prestigious.

It is important to decide which of the two styles will suit your client best before you begin writing.

Combination Resumes:

Combination resumes can take the best features of chronological, functional and targeted style and use these features to present the employment seeker in the best possible manner. You can pick and choose the features of each resume to design a unique resume to reflect your unique qualifications and experiences.

The Objective

The biggest complaint from Human Resources Personnel is receiving resumes with no objective. Human Resources Personnel are looking for someone who can fill a specific need with the company at a particular time, not someone who isn’t sure what they can offer.
Here are just a few examples to assist you:

1. To obtain a responsible position where my experience and education will have valuable application and will challenge my abilities.

2. To obtain a managerial position where my experience, education, skills and abilities will be utilized and will offer me opportunity for advancement.

3. To be employed with a progressive organization where my skills and abilities will be utilized.

4. To obtain a position within an office environment where my experience will be utilized and will offer me opportunity for advancement

5. To obtain a position of Purchasing Manager or Director with a company hat promotes individual initiative and allows for individual application of
Management expertise.

6. To obtain an entry level management position where my education will have valuable application and will offer me career advancement.

7. To obtain a Sales or Marketing Management position with a corporation
leading to Senior Management responsibility.

8. To be employed in a challenging position which will utilize my experience, education, skills and abilities.

9. To obtain a position in a financial institution that focuses heavily on mutual funds and the stock exchange.10. To secure a position in the computer software field involving product analysis, development and marketing.

11. To obtain a responsible position as a Elementary School Teacher where my education will have valuable application and will utilize my instructional skills.

12. To be employed in a growth-oriented organization as an Office manager which will utilize my experience and challenge my abilities.

13. To obtain an entry level position which will allow me to begin a career in Marketing and Public Relations.

14. To obtain a challenging and responsible position in an architectural environment where my intense training, skills and abilities will be utilized.

15. To obtain a challenging, growth-oriented position where my sales, management and customer service experience would be an asset.

16. A responsible position with a progressive organization where training and experience in education and public relations would have valuable application.

17. To obtain a career as a Plant Engineer where my coordination skills, design and construction abilities will have valuable application.

18. To obtain a position as a Secretary.

19. To be employed as a Management Consultant where my knowledge of theory, principals and field of specialization can be utilized in an environment of Juveniles.


Certain phrases and expressions tend to turn potential employers off or on.
Use (but do not overuse) this list of words which potential employers love to see:




Next, you will need information on each job held by the job seeker. List employment in reverse chronological order (present or last job FIRST, etc.) and the following information for each job.

• Dates of Employment, Title, Company, City, State (street address not necessary)
• General responsibilities were:
• Problems faced on the job:
• How did you solve these problems?
• What skills were needed?
• What were the results? (State specific results - increased profits, reduces costs, saved time, etc.)

Human resources people and others in the position of hiring, across the board, say the most interesting elements in resumes are:

• Past Accomplishments
• Skills used to get desired results


Often people take what they do so much for granted that when asked to describe what results they have produced, they have difficulty coming up with any. They look for something significant or award-winning and falling short of that, they fail to mention anything.

An accomplishment is the successful completion for just about any work-related assignment or task that clearly demonstrates a skill or combination of skills.

• Did the job seeker achieve something for the first time?
• Did the job seeker change an existing procedure which benefited the employer?
• Reorganizing a hodgepodge filing system is an accomplishment!
• Salary increase is a “result:” promotion is a “result.”


As a general guideline, the longer the job seeker has been out of school, the less educational detail is required and the further down in the resume the section appears. For example, a new college graduate would need his education section right under his career objective and before his employment section. Once he had obtained

his first job that is relevant toward his career, the education section would be moved to follow the employment section (and the employment section should be re-titled “Professional Experience”).

Be sure to list workshops, seminars, training sessions, home study courses and company courses.
Note regarding new graduates:

• Education Section needs to APPEAR larger than any other section because the new degree is the
most important selling point
• Stretch this section by including Honors/Activities instead of giving them their own sections.
• Fund raising for a fraternity is more important toward a sales career than part-time work at McDonalds. Extracirricular activities indicate a well-rounded personality and demonstrate social awareness.
• Begin employment section with subhead
• “Part time employment while attending school”


Eliminate this section unless there is something to sell, but don’t disqualify this section too quickly. At one time this section was a standard portion of all resumes, but now most “experts” recommend that it is eliminated because it allows employers to illegally discriminate against applicants and many placement agencies will refuse to present your resume if it includes information on race, religious preference or other touchy topics. If the person’s age,ability to travel or relocate is a major selling point then consider retaining this section.


Use this section to highlight your personality, wotk ethics, and technical and general strengths in the workplace. This section is generally considered part of a “Functional Resume,” but can be very helpful in any resume where your work experience and or education do not fully emphasize your abilities.

• Excellent communication skills
• Excellent verbal and written communication skills
• Ability to handle situations realistically and tactfully
• Outstanding computation skills
• Ability to analyze a complex problem and reduce it to a manageable situation
• Excellent public relation and communication skills
• Proficient organizational and time management abilities
• Exceptional grammar and writing skills
• Capable of the sustained effort to see projects through from conception to completion
• Strong analytical and quantitative skills
• Able to create and maintain a positive company image
• Willing to work hard to achieve desired objectives
• Able to interrelate with persons of diverse backgrounds
• Typing
• Ten Key Calculator
• Customer Service Experience
• Cash handling and control experience
• Telemarketing experience
• Coordinating Sales Collections
• Employee Supervision
• Report Preparation
• Financial Document Analysis
• Economic/Fianacial Data Compilation
• Statistical Research/Analysis
• Computer and word processing skills


Applicant’s Address
Applicant’s Phone Number
Date of Letter

Use the complete title Employer’s Name and Title
and address and Address

address it to a particular
person, if possible Salutation (Dear Sir/Madam:)

Opening Paragraph: State why you are writing, name the
position or type of work for which you are applying. Mention how you heard of the position or organization.

Be personable and Middle Paragraph(s): Explain why you are interested in
enthusiastic but professional. working for this employer and specify your reasons for desiring this work. If you have relevant work experience
Make the employer want to or related education, be sure to point this out, but do read your resume. not reiterate your resume. Emphasize skills and abilities you have that relate to the position which you are applying.
Be brief but specific. Be sure to do this in a confident manner and remember that the reader will view your letter of application (cover letter) as an example of your writing skills.

Margins should be equal at top Closing Paragraph: You may refer to your enclosed and bottom resume (which gives a summary of your qualifications). Have an appropriate closing to pave the way for the interview by indicating the action or steps you will take to initiate an interview date (i.e. At your convenience, please accept my request for a personal interview to discuss further my qualifications and to learn more about your organization).

Skip two spaces Sincerely,


Skip four spaces. Always sign your letters.
Your typed name

If your resume or other enclosure enclosure is used, note it in your letter


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