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Career Development Center
Career Development Center
Career Development Center

Designing a Resumé

The purpose of a resume is to get you an interview. It is a personal written communication that indicates your skills and abilities. Employers often scan Resumés very quickly, giving only ten to fifteen seconds of time to each. Therefore, you want the content and organization to be dynamic enough so that the employer will give your Resumé a longer look.

There is no one right way to construct your resumé. Every person who looks at your resumé will probably have some suggestions for changes. It is important for you to use these guidelines, but to tailor them to suit your needs and objective. Remember that your resumé is always a work in progress. As you gain new skills and experiences, you will want to add them to your resume.

Length and Style

One page resumés are best. If you have a lot of experience and skills, however, a two-page resumé may be more desirable. Use phrases instead of complete sentences, beginning with action verbs rather than pronouns, e.g. assisted, facilitated, designed. (A list of action verbs is available on our web site or in the Career Development Center.) Describe situations, actions and results in concrete terms. Leave subjective information for your cover letter, e.g., "wonderful people person." Be consistent with capitalization, punctuation, tense usage, and abbreviations. Make sure you carefully proofread your resumé. A misspelled word can take you out of the candidate list.


The Chronological Resumé is the most common resumé. It is used by job seekers who have consistent employment, and/or a progressive history within a particular field. Chronological Resumés list past jobs in reverse chronological order.

The Functional Resumé is a skill-based resumé and is primarily used for job seekers who have great transferable skills but little direct experience in the area in which they are targeting their search. Functional resumés are great for career-changers, those with gaps in their work experience, or who lack direct experience in a particular field. With this type of resumé, all forms of transferable experience are listed.

The Combination Resumé maximizes the benefits of both the functional and the chronological resumé. A combined Resumé contains a heading for skills and accomplishments, followed by a reverse chronology of work experience. It is important for the candidate to choose the resumé format that best suits his or her needs.

Scanned Resumés are preferred when employers put resumés in a computer database and search for candidates based on key words. If you are certain that the resumé will be scanned, any of the above three formats may be used. However, all italics, boldface, or lines should be deleted.

Keywords can be added to any resumé that will be electronically scanned. A keyword is a label that can be used to describe you. They can encompass technical skills, degrees that you hold, job titles, personal traits and other buzzwords. One technique that can be used is to place a box filled with applicable keywords that might not appear in the body of your resumé at the bottom of your Resumé. (An example for a human resources professional:

Talents: team leader, people and communication skills, hardware needs evaluation, database management, client orientation, word-processing, arbitration, union negotiation, downsizing.


This section includes degrees, majors, minors, graduation dates, name of school, city and state of school, certificates, awards, and academic honors. University and college experience should be listed in reverse chronological order. (Don't include high school education on your resumé.) Relevant coursework may be added following each university or college. Resumés for accounting majors should include your GPA. For all other resumés, include your GPA if it is high and you are proud of it.


For each position, briefly state job title, dates, organization name, and location. Skills and responsibilities should be described using action verbs in the past tense. Whenever possible, use concrete results and data to maximize your accomplishments. List each position in reverse chronological order. Functional Resumés can include all transferable experience gained through volunteer and school experience.

Additional Headings

You may want to add specific headings such as "honors," "professional affiliations," "certifications," "extracurricular activities," etc. Never include remarks about your physical appearance, hobbies, or other personal data. Only list items that are pertinent to your objective.

Resumé Checklist

  • Communicate enthusiasm to work and commitment to make contribution to work world.
  • Use the format that emphasizes your abilities: chronological, functional, or combination.
  • Limit to two pages. Exceptions to this might be if you are writing for education, government positions, or if you have a lot of experience.
  • Make a concise, positive statement about the work goals you are seeking.
  • Use action verbs. Describe situations, actions and results in concrete terms.
  • Eliminate personal information that is not career related.
  • References always go on a separate page.
  • Double check for all spelling, grammar and punctuation. Have others critique it.
  • Use white space consciously and balance words on the page.
  • Use high quality, 20-25 lb. Paper in a neutral color.
  • Use a laser/high quality print for a clear, sharp image.
  • Use the resumé as an opportunity to look at your skills and get to know yourself and your abilities better.


…give reasons for termination.

…list references on a resumé

…use exact dates.


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