How to write an attention-grabbing résumé
Do you plan to start a professional career after graduation? Creating an effective résumé can be critical to landing your dream job, and it all starts with getting noticed. The competition is stiff in today’s environment, and having a résumé that stands out from the crowd will help you get ahead of your peers who share similar qualifications. Learn how to write an attention-grabbing résumé today to take advantage of the opportunities waiting for you.
What to include in your résumé
A résumé generally contains four main sections:
1. Contact information
The contact information in your résumé tells potential employers how to get in touch with you. Please include:
- your full name
- your email address
- your permanent address
- your local or campus address (if applicable)
- your phone number(s)
- your web address/URL
Tip from an NAU advisor: Clean up your email address. This is the time to be professional. Utilize your email address to improve your personal brand. When in doubt, create an email that is some combination of your first and last name: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The education section can help persuade employers that your educational background or academic background will help you do your job more effectively and provide evidence of your qualifications. Please include:
- schools you have attended (universities, 4-year colleges, junior and community colleges, professional or technology schools)
- location of schools
- dates of graduation, actual or anticipated
- degree(s) earned
- grade point average (GPA) if over 3.0
Tip from an NAU advisor: When listing your GPA, if your school is not on a 4.0 grading system, identify that. You can do so by listing your GPA as 3.2/5.0.
The work experience section emphasizes your past and present employment and participation in relevant activities. This section helps convince employers that your experiences match their mission and goals for the position you are applying for. It also provides evidence of your qualifications and describes your experiences in a relevant way. Please include:
- the company or organization
- company location
- position title
- dates of employment or involvement
- description of responsibilities and roles
Tip from an NAU advisor: When describing your responsibilities, do not just list the job description for your current or past jobs verbatim. List accomplishments, major projects completed, improvements made, goals met, etc.
4. Additional information
Additional information that you may want to add to your résumé includes:
- additional experience
- awards and honors
- community involvement
- additional skills and certifications
Employers want to see that you have good time management skills and work-life balance. If you were involved in school organizations or other leadership commitments, such as a sorority/fraternity, school newspaper, student government, etc., list those under additional experience. We recommend listing no more than 4 clubs or extracurricular activities.
Awards and honors
Be proud! Listing recognition is a great way to stand out—but be careful not to list too many. Limit your list to those applicable to the jobs you are applying for.
It is suggested that you list your volunteer experience separately from your employment experience. Only list volunteer work that you have done on a regular basis.
Additional skills and certifications
If you have additional skills that you feel are relevant to a job you are applying for, you can list them in this section. This is very common for entry-level résumés.
Tip from an NAU advisor: Don’t overdo it! Simplicity and readability are key.
Types of résumés
There are many different types of résumé formats. Depending on your personal circumstance and the job you are applying for, you may choose to develop your résumé in one of the following styles:
The chronological résumé is a common type of résumé that generally emphasizes the most recent employment over earlier experience. Employers can see what jobs you have held and when you were employed. It is also easy to write as the structure is dictated by your own history.
Using this type of résumé, you will emphasize:
- specific locations
- responsibilities associated with specific positions
Consider a chronological résumé if you have a solid work history.
The functional résumé is organized by skill sets rather than timelines and is for individuals whose education and experience do not obviously match their career objectives. Functional resumes should still include your work history in reverse chronological order. These résumés are beneficial because they direct readers to what you want them to notice, demonstrate precise skills that the employer wants, and eliminate work history that may not support your current career objective.
A functional résumé should include the following:
- professional/related experiences
- employment history
A combination résumé combines features of the chronological and functional formats. This type of resume highlights skills you have that are relevant to the job you are applying for and also provides a chronological work history. By highlighting your key qualifications and accomplishments at the beginning of your résumé, you entice hiring managers to read further.
Video résumés, infographic résumés, career-focused websites, and online portfolios can all supplement a traditional résumé and help you stand out among the crowd. But a nontraditional resume isn’t a fit for all career paths. If you are entering a creative field, this could be an option for you.
Tip from an NAU advisor: Always maintain a master résumé. That way you can pick and choose the appropriate information to include depending on the job you are applying for.
Handshake is NAU’s online recruiting system where students can connect with employers and search for job openings. For more information and resources on creating a résumé, visit Career Development.