The Quick and Easy Resume Guide

Real Resume Rules

The resume is a brief "professional" summary used to screen applicants for an interview. It is an advertisement of the applicant's strengths and skills. It is also a sample of the applicant's work.


  1. Be brief and to the point.
  2. Target your field and job market.
  3. Highlight your strengths.
  4. Include necessary information.
  5. Consider a "Career Objective" heading.
  6. Use the format that fits you best.
  7. Have someone proofread your resume.
  8. Choose quality paper and printing.
  9. Contact the employer about specific resume requirements.
  10. Send a cover letter with your resume.
  11. Provide a scannable resume, if it is required.
Do Not
  1. Waste space.
  2. Understate your abilities.
  3. Forget volunteer, cooperative, military or other relevant experiences.
  4. Include irrelevant information, (i.e., courses or activities that do not relate to your job goal).
  5. Use vague, passive or negative language.
  6. List references.
  7. Describe previous pay, reasons for leaving a job, etc.
  8. Forget to check grammar and style.
  9. Mail your resume without a cover letter.
  1. Chronological: Describes education, experience and activities in reverse chronological order (most recent first). Emphasizes where and when.



  3. Functional: Describes skills and accomplishments. Emphasizes what and how.



  5. Targeted or Combination: Combines both formats above. Describes education, experience, activities and skills.


Sample Resumes

Here are examples of the three major resume formats. These can be used as rough guides for developing resumes. Individual resumes will differ in content and style depending on major, career interests and job-related background.
Chronological Resume Functional Resume Combination Resume


The Scanned Resume

How to be Hired by a Machine

A few, large employers in the Portland-Metro area are using electronic applicant tracking systems to screen applicants' resumes. Your resume is scanned into a computer database, creating a file that may be used to match qualifications against openings. Using optical character recognition software, the computer can sort resume files from a given set of key words including job titles and duties, education level, equipment and tools, and other jargon specific to the industry. Often, hiring managers may access the system directly to screen applicants. Some employers using resume scanning systems are Nike, Intel, AT&T and Tektronix.

Scanned Resume Strategies:

  1. Read company job descriptions. These will give you a good idea of the key words used to screen applicants in the system. Whenever possible, use the jargon listed on the job description.
  2. Describe your experience, education, activities, etc. in specific words. Focus on functions and tools.
  3. Use industry language and acronyms.
  4. Include a skills section. This is an easy way to list potential key words.
  5. Contact the employer to confirm their resume requirements. Ask for samples if appropriate.
Scanned Resume Format:
  1. Use standard size (8 1/2 x 11) and standard weight (20 lbs) paper.
  2. Print letter quality on white paper. Laser printer originals work best.
  3. Avoid dot matrix printouts, faxes and photocopies.
  4. Choose standard fonts (eg. helvetica, courier) from 10 to 14 point size.
  5. Do not use bold, italics, underlines or fancy fonts.
  6. Do not use graphics, including boxes and lines, and multi-column formats.
  7. Your name and phone number should each be listed on their own line.
  8. Do not fold or staple your resume.
  9. Resumes may be sent electronically directly into the employer's computer system. Check with the employer for this option.
Since the scanned resume may not be attractive to human readers, applicants may wish to submit two versions of their resume, one for the machine and one for the manager.
The Quick and Easy Guides for Writers

Written By: George Knox © 1999