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Student Center 240

1200 S. Jay St.

Aberdeen, S.D. 57401


Phone: 605-626-2371

Fax: 605-626-3399




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Career Center

A well-designed, carefully written résumé serves two purposes: it gets you in the door for an interview, and provides the basis for discussion in the interview.


Don't be discouraged if you have had little or no paid work experience directly related to the job you seek. If you're just graduating, it's often more important to communicate your experience and skills in ways that will portray you as a potential employee.


For full-time employment, it's usually best not to use a wizard or template. Create your résumé from scratch, exhibiting your desktop publishing skill. Remember, your résumé may be one of hundreds reviewed by the employer, and is an addition to the regular day’s work. Your résumé must stand out by relating who you are to the position for which you are applying.


Most employers seek some of the following qualities:

Sample Résumés

Résumé Dr. Pet Peeves

Résumé Dr. Major Mistakes

Résumé Dr. Internet Résumé Tips

  • Self-motivation 
  • Good speaking ability


  • Willingness to delegate authority 
  • Persistence


  • Problem-solving and creativity 
  • Ability to get along with others


  • Ability to get things done
  • High energy
  • Interest in learning
  • Willingness to take responsibility


  • Leadership
  • Strong writing skills


Elements of a Résumé


Heading, Identifying Information : Include your full name centered at the top of the page, complete address (present and permanent if applicable) and phone number (you will need a polite message on your answering machine), with the area code.  Include your email address.


Objective (optional): useful so the reader can quickly identify your area of interest.  An objective should state in 1-2 lines what you want to do and should be employer-focused rather than self-serving.  Whether or not you choose not to include an objective, you need to very clearly provide that same information in the first paragraph of your cover letter.  You will always compose a cover letter or letter of application when you send your paper résumé.


Qualifications Statement/Summary/Profile/Skills/Keywords (optional): possible alternative to an objective, becoming used more often.  This is a concise statement of your qualifications for this position.  This statement can be longer than an objective.  Skills can be listed as simply as “conversational Spanish, C++, fluent French, html,” etc.  If you suspect that the employer may scan résumés into a database, then this can also list keywords.  Keywords are those things required and/or preferred for employees.


Education : List degrees awarded, schools attended, graduation dates, majors, minors, GPA if 3.0 or higher, and perhaps honors.  Begin with your most recent degree or current degree sought, then work backwards.  It is not necessary to list institutions from which you did not earn a degree or certification.  High school information is usually not included.  Exceptions are those seeking summer, part-time, or internship positions.  For internships, it is common practice to list the relevant courses you will have completed at the time of the internship (see example).


Experience:   Include paid, volunteer, part-time, summer, leadership, intern, and other experiences.  Start with the most recent, working back.  List your title, employer, location, dates (either month and year, years, months, or academic terms), and an explanation of your duties or accomplishments.  Be consistent.  The most common form is to begin each statement with a past-tense verb, and to include keywords.


Some individuals choose to separate their experience into two categories--related or professional experience in one category, with explanations, and additional experience in another, without explanations.  This can be an effective way to emphasize experiences related to your employment goal, and to list other unrelated jobs that may be more recent later.


Awards/Honors/Achievements : If you have at least three achievements to mention, you can use this as a separate category; otherwise, state academic distinctions under the Education heading.


Activities : Include the name of the organization and any leadership roles you held.  Quantify any results of your participation if applicable (years, membership increase, etc.).  It is not good form to state “member” for each item—that is assumed if the organization is listed.  Use abbreviations only if you are sure the reader understands them.


Interests (optional): Include strong interests only if they are truly significant to your lifestyle and/or to your work, and will enhance your candidacy.  Playing golf might be significant for some management positions.


Do NOT Include the Following on Your Résumé :


  • Personal data such as age, height, weight, health, disabilities, religion, marital status, dependents, appearance.
  • Reference data—this is placed on a second, parallel document.  If you have space to fill, you may mention the availability of a reference list.  See the example of a reference page.
  • Photographs, unless you are applying for a job as a model or actor.
  • Salary history or requirements.  Even if they ask for it, be as vague as you can in a letter, phone conversation, or interview.  Just out of college, you can dodge the issue by stating that you have worked part-time during school and are flexible in regard to starting salary.  However, in the interview, you should be prepared to know a reasonable starting salary, or an acceptable range such as $25,000 to $30,000 for many entry level positions.


If your résumé is too short:


  • Consider adding a well-written, exciting qualification statement.
  • Rethink the duties and requirements of your past experiences.  You may be able to elaborate on some significant responsibilities, especially if you enhanced sales, production, process efficiency, or creative endeavors.
  • Include special projects (academic or civic), committees and task forces, community involvement, special events, etc. Consider changing to another format. Come to Career Development & Placement for assistance.  Business majors should contact Scott Peterson in Lincoln 204.  Others should see the secretary in 217 Student Center for an appointment.


If your résumé is too long (more than a page, for most):


  • Reevaluate the relevance of the information you provide.  Some things can be assumed or understood by the nature of a position such as “wait staff” or “receptionist.”
  • Instead of listing every job, limit yourself to “Professional Experience” or “Relevant Experience.”  Additional jobs can be merely listed without explanation in another category such as “Additional Employment.”
  • Come in and ask for assistance.  It is occasionally possible that you will end up with two pages of relevant information, especially if you have significant experience and leadership.  Just avoid a few lines that spill over like a mistake—make the second page count and look good with your name and “Page 2” at the top.




  • A chronological résumé is by far the most common and preferred in most fields.  It is easily read and understood, so your readers appreciate the quick read.  Start with your most recent or current position (include title, employer, location, dates, and usually an explanation) or educational achievement.  In subsequent items, be consistent by listing those same pieces of information in the same order as in the first item.


  • A functional resume is sometimes used by people with either little traditional experience to list or so much experience that is takes too much space to document all of it.  In these cases, the candidate emphasizes skills and abilities rather than employers and tasks.  Functional resumes are more difficult to write, requiring much more creativity and thought.  If you choose this format, seek several critiques.


  • Combination resumes can also be written, utilizing the best of both of the above formats.


EXAMPLES OF RÉSUMÉS AND A REFERENCE PAGE ARE PROVIDED.  PLEASE NOTE THAT THESE ARE ONLY SIMPLE EXAMPLES AND ARE NOT TO BE USED AS TEMPLATES.  Instead, demonstrate your good thinking, writing, and creativity by producing documents that truly reflect YOUR strengths, experiences, and individuality.


General Guidelines:


  • Limit your résumé to 1 page, if possible.  Some employers will not even read beyond Page 1.  Be concise, use phrases rather than sentences, and eliminate unnecessary verbiage.
  • Use no personal pronouns (I, me, my, they, etc.).
  • Maximize visual appeal and ease of reading/scanning, without clutter.  One-inch margins are best; minimize punctuation; simple font styles, size 11 or 12.
  • Organize clearly.  Be consistent in the use of bolding, capitalization, bullets, etc.  Place the most vital information at the top and work your way down.
  • Verbs generally start your job explanations.  However, if the employer uses optical scanning, you will also need keywords, which are nouns or acronyms.
  • Punctuation should be logical and consistent, though not necessarily correct (because you are not using sentences).  Periods are not necessary at the ends of lines.
  • Proofread, proofread, proofread!    Use spell-check after each revision, remembering that you may have used the wrong word, spelled correctly.  Read slowly, aloud, including the address and phone numbers.  Read in reverse, too, so you don’t anticipate what is coming next.  Finally, get at least 3 sets of eyes to read your work.  Call on the pickiest people you know, ask them to hatchet your résumé, and offer to do the same for others.
  • Laser print on plain, 8.5”x11” bond paper, 20 pound or heavier.  Double-check for errors.
  • If mailed, include a personalized cover letter that is written with similar care.  Be positive, enthusiastic, and honest.  This is an example of your communication skills, so be sure it is flawless. 


Verbs you might consider using: 

accommodated decided inspected promoted
accomplished decreased interviewed published
achieved delegated invented purchased
administered determined investigated qualified
advised demonstrated instructed ranked
analyzed designed involved raised
applied developed installed recommended
arranged devised judged recruited
assessed directed led reduced
assigned documented listened reported
assisted drafted marked researched
attended edited managed reviewed
authorized engineered manufactured satisfied
bought established marketed scheduled
budgeted evaluated motivated selected
built exercised met served
catalogued exhibited mobilized sold
charted expressed operated solved
clarified explained ordered sorted
communicated formulated organized spoke
compiled furnished originated staffed
completed gained paraphrased started
composed graduated participated submitted
conducted guided performed supervised
constructed handled planned supplied
contributed hired predicted synthesized
controlled improved prepared taught
coordinated implemented presented trained
corrected increased provided utilized
created initiated produced wrote



Keywords are used by employers to search databases of scanned résumés in applicant tracking systems now used by 80% of medium-sized employers.  Smaller companies often use staffing companies or online employment services with similar systems.  If your résumé does not contain the keywords selected by the employer, then it will never be retrieved from the database and you will never be considered for employment at that company.  More and more employers use this method of résumé management, so use of keywords is increasingly important.  Keywords can be embedded in the text of your cover letter and résumé, and they can be listed in a separate section of your resume.  To maximize your chances of being selected by the searcher, use as many synonyms as possible.  Typical keywords are items mentioned as required or preferred for candidates: degree, major, GPA, years of experience, computer languages/software/hardware, modern languages, certifications, licenses, specific skills in a given field, geographic area, etc.  See the résumé samples for an example of keywords.


Electronic Portfolios (very important information):


The technical rules for producing a visual document are different than those for creating a paper document.  You might have to or even prefer to either (a) produce your résumé using Netscape Composer, Front Page, or other software, or (b) begin by producing a paper résumé in Word and then rekey your original information using your browser editor to create an html version (two separate files).  For example, if you write your paper résumé in Word and have it critiqued and finalized, then you can use Composer or Front Page to key in the same information in html and have it correctly formatted for use in your electronic portfolio.  Sometimes, Word can be converted to html, but you might lose your nice formatting (tabs will disappear, for example).  In all cases, DO NOT USE WORD RESUME WIZARDS OR TEMPLATES for electronic purposes.  I recommend that you do not use them at all, not even on paper, because they look too much the same and they are inflexible.  For a part-time job, they will probably work well enough.  However, they will do nothing to enhance your candidacy as an individual who has strong computer skills.  


Résumés for Email and Internet Transmission:


Just as with keyword résumés, electronically transmitted résumés are used more often each year.  Although high tech industries use them most often, any large corporation could be expected to use them.  On-line application procedures are being implemented to save companies the expense of on-campus recruiting, to better standardize their application procedures, and to reduce paper.  Electronic résumés are functional, but not pretty!  To create a document that transmits well and accomplishes your goals, remember the following points:


  • If possible, use ASCII to create your resume.  It works best because there are no automatic codes or graphics as are used in standard word-processing programs.  For example, Microsoft Word will automatically underline and make blue your email address.  However, that coding will not survive email and Internet transmission.  If using Word to write your resume, use the “Save As” command, go to the bottom left corner of the box and in the “Save as Type” box, select “Rich Text Format” or “Unicode Text,” and then OK the save.
  • Write everything left aligned or left flush (not fully aligned), including your name and address.  This is done because it will be left aligned when received.  The final product will both look better and be much better organized if you write it left aligned.
  • Use no columns or tabs.
  • Use one line for each item, regardless of length of the document.  Internet resumes are typically stored electronically, so length is not important.
  • 65 characters per line maximum.
  • No parentheses or brackets.
  • No underlining or italics.
  • No bullets.  Instead, use an asterisk* (or a hyphen-) followed by a blank space.
  • No graphics, lines, shading, or boxes.
  • No Social Security number, personal information, or reference information.
  • Clear, easily read fonts with no characters touching each other. Font size of 12-14.
  • No bolding, as it will likely disappear in transmission.
  • For emphasis, use capital letters consistently (all headings or all job titles, for example), not occasionally.
  • To separate ideas, use empty lines (not indentations, as they are not left-flush).
  • USE KEYWORDS, especially if part of an on-line application.
  • Use industry jargon.
  • Abbreviate only commonly understood items such as BS, SD, and acronyms in your field of study or work.
  • Do not compress space, if using a Mac computer.


Now that the résumé is written, save it on a disk.  To send:


  • Be sure your résumé goes in the text of your email message, not as an attachment.  The only exception to this rule is when the employer requires that you send it as an attachment.
  • In the subject line, title your resume in 45 characters or fewer.  For example, “Accountant/150 hours/3.75 GPA/US”
  • State your database: entry, experienced, or 3rd party.
  • The first few lines of your email message can serve as a cover letter, quickly followed by the actual résumé
  • Open A:\ to access your saved résumé
  • Block the résumé and copy it (Edit menu).
  • Return to the email message or on-line application form and paste the résumé in the appropriate space.
  • View the entire message for accuracy, clean up as necessary.
  • Send.
  • Phone the next day, use your best smiling phone voice, and ask if your résumé was received clearly.  If it wasn’t, ask for suggestions for your next attempt. Thank the person for the assistance and information.


To apply online and send your résumé, READ the online instructions for each company very carefully.  Each company has its own procedures you must follow.  Complete all sections of the online application form, review for accuracy, and follow steps 5-10 above.


Federal Résumés


Those applying for federal jobs often need to write a résumé that includes much more information.  In fact, some of this would NOT be included in any other type of job.  Several years ago, the federal job application process was decentralized, and individual agencies and bureaus were given the option to design their own application process.  Some of these agencies and bureaus continue to use the standardized federal application form, some give you a choice between that form and a very precisely written résumé, and some allow use of a more standard résumé.  In recent years, most federal jobs require you to apply online and build an electronic résumé with their template.  This can be saved and reused.


 Be sure you respond to each item, leaving no blanks.  Some require that you submit additional documents.  You must read each vacancy announcement very carefully to know how to apply.  Applications that do not include exactly what is asked for are eliminated from consideration.


 If you are interested in federal employment, it is a good idea to use the USA Jobs website to locate vacancies in which you are interested, read the directions for applying, and create a résumé that meets those specifications.  It is not at all unusual for federal employers to require your Social Security number, age, citizenship, veteran status and discharge information, or other personal information; names, phone numbers, and street addresses of all past supervisors; and other pertinent data.  The good news is that there is no need to worry about going beyond 1 page!


 Your first challenge is to include all the required information in a manner that is attractive, accurate, and well-organized for easy reading.  Your second challenge is to check the vacancy announcements often enough to meet the deadlines.  A few days to a week is typical for many vacancies.  Late applications are not read.


Please visit the Other Vacancy Links on our web page for more information.