Updated: Feb 23, 2020
Think you're ready to apply for that job? That's great! Do you have a resume? ...Wait, resume? What's that?! Do I need one?
Short answer is YES, you need a resume! A resume is a highlight reel of your experience, skills, and reasons why the company should hire you. Most companies require a resume as part of your overall job application packet.
That Purple Book is here to help so let's get started and learn the main steps for creating a GREAT resume! Keep reading the tips below.
When creating a resume, That Purple Book has five main guidelines - Be Honest, Be Focused, Be Creative, Be Complete, and Be Organized. In the section below, let's dig into each one to set the framework for the type of resume you'll create and how best to highlight your overall experience!
1. Be Honest
Start your job hunt off right and stay true to your values and integrity. Highlight your skills and experience on your resume but don't feel compelled to exaggerate or flat out lie just in the hopes of impressing the reader. Every seasoned professional has started exactly where you are now - The Beginning. The experience you have culminated so far from personal, professional and other areas of your life has value! Highlight the experience that you have NOW.
2. Be Focused
Who is your target audience for the resume? In most cases you'll need to actually create multiple resumes, one for each of the jobs for which you're applying. (Don't stress out, it will be easier than you think, I promise) First create a generic resume and then you can copy/paste and make minor adjustments to the different versions of your resume. Take the time to craft focused resumes based on the company, career field, and job/role. Review the position description of the job for which you're applying. Where applicable, match the wording of your experience/skills to the information listed on the job description.
3. Be Creative
This resume is all about YOU so make sure that the information listed reflects that. You can be creative with many aspects of the resume including layout, format (narrative versus a list), order of the information, and specific wording. Many others will have similar backgrounds or experience to you but NO ONE will have the same combination of those experiences.
4. Be Complete
Actually describe the job tasks you've completed for each job position listed. Have at least 2 bullet points for each job. If you feel you don't have enough to list two bullet points' worth of description for a job then still list it but just don't add any other details. Remember to describe HOW you've used programs and technology, don't just list the program names. By describing HOW you've used a program, you're informing the reader helpful information about the level of experience you have. If you just list a bunch of skills, a reader may be turned off because it looks like you're just word-dropping but lack any real substance/experience. Lastly, always make sure you have the correct names and dates listed for each of your job positions. This may sound like small stuff but trust me, it makes a difference!!
5. Be Organized
Layout and formatting of your resume is key! You want to make sure the best information is easily readable by your audience. Be consistent with your formatting. Ensure you are using proper grammar and correct punctuation! There are many examples of hiring staff who actually discard resumes or job applications all together if they use poor spelling or grammar.
Purple Tip: "Your resume is like prime real estate. Use it wisely."
For an entry level resume, KEEP TO ONE PAGE only! Hiring professionals go through dozens of resumes and you want yours to stand out by being easy to read and understand. If you are just beginning your foray into the professional world, you're not going to have enough experience to need more than one page. If you really feel like you have more experience to list, consider creating a personal website to list all of your accomplishments and examples of work/projects. Better yet (and free) is to create a profile on the networking site LinkedIn.com where you can list all of your work and other experience! (Read this previous blog post for steps on getting started with LinkedIn.com)
Now that we've set an overall framework, let's start filling in the details! There are four main content areas for entry-level resumes - Contact information, Education, Experience, and a miscellaneous items that we'll group as Other. Let's take a closer look at each section for tips on how best to present your information in each of them.
1. Contact Information
During the job application process, it is vital that the hiring staff have all of your contact information in order to schedule interviews and, of course, to offer you the job! For your resume, make sure that you provide the correct and most appropriate contact information including Full name, Appropriate email*, and Phone number. Notice I mentioned "appropriate" email earlier? Make sure that the email address is professional in nature and does not include any sexual references, curse words, or other possibly offensive wording or references. When in doubt, create a brand new email account to use specifically for your job search process. Similarly, if you are done with school, create a new email to use instead of your school address. When you're done with school, you're entering into the professional world and so it's best to also move on from your school contact information at that point. Regarding the address portion of your resume, you can provide your full mailing address OR just list your city, state, and zip code. Listing your full mailing address on a resume could be a personal security concern. You will have to provide your full address to the company on the job application and that should be sufficient.
If you have your own website or professional profile online (such as with LinkedIn) then add a link to those resources on your resume. Purple Tip: When you list a web URL on your resume, make sure you actually have the hyperlink activated. That way, if the reader receives the resume in a digital format, they can click on the hyperlink to view your information rather than having to manually type in the URL you provided. If you will be providing a hard copy of your resume, consider using a URL-shortening site (Such as bit.ly, TinyURL, & EasyURL) to provide you with a more reader-friendly URL to list on your resume.
Example: Contact Information on a Resume
This section should highlight the highest level of formal education you have received - High School, Undergraduate, Masters, PhD. If you have graduated high school and are attending a post-secondary educational institution then you do not need to list your high school on your resume. If you are still in a post-secondary program or if you are a recent graduate without much work experience, then your education may pull more weight on your resume. At the bare minimum, you need to list school name, your major/minor, and your graduation month/year. If you haven't yet graduated, you can list an "expected graduation date". You can list honors and/or awards you have received while in school if you have room for the information on your 1-page resume and if you want to highlight that information.
Example: Education Information on a Resume
You have experience from multiple facets of your life but the primary experience that you should highlight is actual work experience and, it's even better when that work experience is related to the job for which you're applying. In addition to work experience, don't forget about any unpaid experience you have such as from volunteering, special class projects, or unpaid internships.
Depending on your specific work history and the job for which you're applying, you need to decide whether to highlight ALL of your past work experience or only RELATED work experience. Whichever way to choose, make sure to list your work experience with the most recent job first/at the top. Make sure to include the month/year that you started and ended your employment for each job listed. Having the dates of employment listed on your resume shows the reader your overall work history - whether you've been working consistently for months/years even if the work was not specifically related to your career.