Producing a Resume: Your Written Marketing Material

A resume is a self-promotional document that presents you in the best possible light, for the purpose of getting invited to a job interview.

It is not a job application and it is not a confessional.

It's not just about past jobs. It's about YOU, and how you performed and what you accomplished in those past jobs - especially those accomplishments that are most relevant to the work you want to do next.

Much preparation goes into a good resume:

  • first establish clear goals for your job search
  • then identify your skills that match your goals
  • finally, write, rewrite, and edit until the resume is perfect.

Do not overwhelm employers by providing more information than necessary. Do not try to be everything to everyone. The greatest challenge will not be what to include in your resume, but what lo leave out.

An attention-getting resume must be targeted, to the point, and must clearly identify your training and licences. Focus on skills and accomplishments with specific attention to actual results.

Goal Setting

It is critical that you target your resume to a specific occupational goal. Without this focus, your resume will be mediocre at best. As you write your resume, keep your goal in view. This will help you decide what to include, what to leave out, and will help target your resume.

One strategy is to write your goal on a separate piece of paper and weigh each item in your resume against your goal. If it is not clear how the item relates to your goal, then strongly consider eliminating it.

Skill Identification

All resumes today need to be skill-based resumes. Employers want to know what you can do, not just where you have worked. If you cannot clearly state at least 20 skills directly associated with your job goal, you are not ready to write your resume.

Take the time to work on developing a list of your skills. As you develop your list, identify examples of places where you have used your skills.

Be very specific when describing your skills. Also, be sure to state your skills in a positive light. Avoid any language that may reduce their value.

Whenever possible, style your skills as expert skills, to avoid being perceived as a generalist. As an example, if you have word processing skills, slate which software packages you have used. Whatever style or format you use, your resume must clearly communicate the skills you bring to the job.

The Language of Resumes

The resume must have impact and flair. What you say is important, but how you say it is just as important. An excellent method is to use action verbs to highlight your training and skills. It is one thing to say that you have a particular skill; it is another to proclaim that you have excelled in its performance.

Resumes are not literary; they are promotional. The rules of grammar are modified from formal writing. Complete sentences are not necessary.

Avoid the use of "I”, as the subject of the resume is assumed to be the person named in the heading of the resume. Use lots of bullets and key phrases.

The resume should draw the reader's attention and create a desire to know more. The goal is to win an interview. It is at the interview that the job is won. The resume is like a preview of coming attractions; you want to save the best for the presentation.

Resume Formats

There are three main types of resume formats that you can use: Reverse Chronological, Functional and Combined.

Reverse Chronological

The emphasis is on a chronological listing of employment. The chronological resume is a good format for those with a consistent employment history, no gaps in employment, and whose past employment experiences are related to their current employment goals. It effectively showcases a steady work record with increasing upward responsibilities. This may not be the best for individuals with job gaps or persons changing careers.


The functional resume highlights skills, experience and accomplishments without identifying specific Dates, names and places. This format is organised by functions or skills, addressing the specific qualifications needed for the occupation.

This resume works well for people changing careers. It is also effective for those reentering the workforce and when highlighting experiences that occurred in the distant past. There is no chronological listing of employment. Many employers do not like this format; it creates suspicion that the person may be trying to hide something.


The combination resume brings together the best of both the chronological and functional resumes. It features a functional section that highlights skills, accomplishments and experiences. It also includes a chronological listing of employment, education and employment-related experiences.

This is a very effective format for many job seekers.

Points to Consider

Standard Resume Content

Career Summary

The summary explains in a few lines who you are and summarises your credentials, skills, attributes and qualifications for particular positions. The summary is usually two paragraphs, each of two to three lines in length.

Personal Data

Your name, complete mailing address, telephone number(s) with area code and e-mail address are all the personal data required.

Professional Development

Include details of any relevant training courses that you have attended.


Unless you are a recent graduate, your education should be placed toward the end of the resume. List only education that is significant to your job search. There is no need to list high school education if you have further formal qualifications.

Other Activities

It is up to you whether you list only those activities that relate to your occupational goal and show skill or experience or whether you try to paint a fuller picture of who you are. Listing religious or political affiliations may not work to your advantage.


References do not belong on the resume. They should be listed on a separate sheet. Send the references with the resume only when specifically requested by the employer. There is no need to state "References available upon request."