Frequently Asked Questions for: Career Services - Resumes
- How far back should you go as far as experience or job history?
- Should you list this job history chronologically from most recent or the oldest?
- Is it better to have lots of volunteer work or lots of work experience?
- Do certificates enhance a resume?
- Does it really matter how involved you are in school?
- Is it professional to make your resume fancy – word art?
- Should letters of reference be included automatically?
- What are some great accomplishments that make a resume irresistible?
- Do some companies require a certain resume format?
- What suggestions do you have for having strong references?
- Is it necessary to use fancy paper for resumes, cover letters and references?
- What is big deal with including salary and not including salary requirements?
- My current resume seems empty due to lack of experience, how much does this matter when applying for an entry level position?
- What should you do if you can’t find contact information for an important reference?
- Do potential employers call every reference that is listed on your resume?
- What parts of a resume will either “make you and break you?”
- What are chances that an employer will call you back if your resume didn’t download correctly?
- How can you give references if you were fired by your last employer?
- It is good to submit a resume after filling out a job application or does that take the place of a resume?
- What information should you cut out if your resume is two pages and you haven’t yet included references?
- What word usage is best to use?
- How do you go about writing the objective statement?
- What kind of information about your jobs should you share?
- What order should the categories be listed?
- What are the key essentials the hiring teams look for when viewing resumes?
- What would be the most important bolded or italicized words that should stick out?
- Is it proper to include color on a resume?
- Which resume format would the most valuable one to use when applying for a job?
- What kind of style should a resume give off?
How far back should you go as far as experience or job history?Normally your past five jobs or 10 years at the most is fine.
Should you list this job history chronologically from most recent or the oldest?Job History and Education information should always be listed present (most recent) to past.
Is it better to have lots of volunteer work or lots of work experience?Actual work experience is better but you have to do the work of communicating the transferability of that experience to the employer. If you do not have a lot of work experience then related volunteer experience is helpful.
Do certificates enhance a resume?The more education you have the better as it makes you more competitive as a candidate.
Does it really matter how involved you are in school?Again related involvement does beef up a resume; demonstrating leadership skills and experience, which you often gain through campus involvement, is also attractive to employers. Many of the clubs, activities, and organizations that you can get involved in give you transferable skills and enable you to network with potential employers or influential contacts.
Is it professional to make your resume fancy – word art?NO, you want to use standard fonts and keep formatting to things like boldfaced headings and italicized or bolded degree names and job title. But standard fonts like Times New Roman and Courier New are best. Industries like Graphic Technology accept more creativity but still within a certain framework.
Should letters of reference be included automatically?Although you can pursue obtaining letters of reference, if they are not requested by the employer via the job app instructions, do not include them. You can always bring them to an interview or provide them if they are asked for but sending them with your application packet when they were not requested communicates to the employer that you cannot follow directions.
What are some great accomplishments that make a resume irresistible?The more education you have the better. Directly related experience to the industry that you seeking to enter is always helpful. Completing your degree programs with a high GPA is also a positive since it demonstrates competency. A resume that looks polished, is consistent regarding formatting and presentation and communicates clearly to the employer is always best.
Do some companies require a certain resume format?If they do then usually they will specify that via job posting instructions. However, if you are applying online and are asked to paste your resume into a text type box then you would need to use a text format so that the presentation does not get messed up. Refer to the handout that Sue provided to you regarding Electronic Resumes.
What suggestions do you have for having strong references?You always want references who can speak to your professionalism and work ethic. If you are currently in school and are moving towards a new career (something that isn’t related to the jobs that you’ve held or currently have) then your professors who are seeing you in the classroom are strong references. Your references will be strong for you only as it relates to how informed they are about what you are trying to pursue. So you need to do the work of keeping them updated and informed as to the types of jobs that you are applying for and working towards. In that way they will know how to speak about you more specifically to a potential employer.
Is it necessary to use fancy paper for resumes, cover letters and references?Yes, resume paper is the standard. You can get this type of higher grade, thicker paper at Target or any office supply store. They usually come in packs of 25 and are in neutral colors.
What is big deal with including salary and not including salary requirements?Most job applications request that you include salary history as a standard. In this way, Human Resources departments and hiring supervisors can determine a competitive salary package for their candidates. If an employer requests it to be included on a resume then do so otherwise provide the information to the best of your ability via the job app.
My current resume seems empty due to lack of experience, how much does this matter when applying for an entry level position?Obviously employers understand that experience might be lacking for entry-level hires. However, you bring transferable skills from past jobs (even seemingly unrelated ones) into new positions. You need to do the work of formatting your resume in such a way to communicate your transferable abilities to the employer. A Skills Based resume would be best for you.
What should you do if you can’t find contact information for an important reference?You need to do the work of maintaining contact with important references and keep track of them so that they can serve you in getting into your field of choice. If you are not able to obtain their contact information, especially phone and email addresses then you should not list them as a reference.
Do potential employers call every reference that is listed on your resume?Good employers do call all of your references to get outside perspectives on you as an employee and professional. Each employer can offer a unique perspective as to your work ethic, your style, your attitude, etc.
What parts of a resume will either “make you and break you?”Overall, inconsistencies and mistakes will break you the most. Incomplete information or resumes that make the employer have to work too hard to figure out if you meet their qualifications will put your resume at the bottom of the pile. If you include unrelated information or haven’t worked to present your information in a format that is clear and easily understandable then employers usually move on to someone else.
What are chances that an employer will call you back if your resume didn’t download correctly?Not likely as it is up to you to have to the knowledge and skills to be able to follow directions, understand formatting pieces and make the necessary changes so that the presentation is professional.
How can you give references if you were fired by your last employer?You make the decisions about who to include as references. On an application you are often asked about why you left your past positions and honesty is best. Be prepared to address the issues related to the firing in an interview. If you own the aspects of situation that you contributed to and explain what you learned from it, then usually employers will be more prone to fully consider you for a position.
It is good to submit a resume after filling out a job application or does that take the place of a resume?Most businesses require that you fill out their application in addition to submitting other documentation – resume, cover letter, transcripts, etc. Again, follow the directions asked of applicants in the job app instructions.
What information should you cut out if your resume is two pages and you haven’t yet included references?As we gain more experience and work history, 2-page resumes are acceptable. However, in order to make room and make the best use of the space, focus on what is related to the job that you are currently applying for. Make your resume position-specific.
What word usage is best to use?Starting each descriptive bullet point with ACTION verbs is the way to go as they provide a strong, positive launch to your statements. Being too wordy distracts and turns off employers. Resumes should not be presented in paragraph style.
How do you go about writing the objective statement?Cover letters often allow you to do a better job at stating your purpose and objective. However, if you want to include it on your resume make it directed at the specific position, employer/company and inclusive of some of the qualities that the employer is seeking.
Ex. Seeking a full-time position as an Accountant with XYZ Company using skills in bookkeeping and organization.