Career Development - Job Search Tools
Many of the résumé tips you may have picked up over
the years do not apply to online application systems used by many employers,
including the UW.
Preparing electronic documents for website use
Keep it simple. The UW jobs
website will convert your résumé/cover letter to text
only, so do not use italics, underlines, shading, bullets, graphics
or fancy formatting. Follow these guidelines:
- Create a comprehensive résumé that highlights
and summarizes your work history. Most online application systems only
allow one résumé per candidate, so you will not be able
to create a custom résumé for each position to which
- Create a general objective that covers several career areas and
that does not include specific job titles.
- Read job descriptions and requirements carefully and highlight
the match between your qualifications and the skills and experiences
that are being sought.
- Compose in a plain text editor such as Notepad or Wordpad.
- Avoid tables, paragraph borders, columns, and fancy fonts.
- Replace bullets with asterisks or dashes.
- Keep all lines left-justified.
- Use line breaks to separate headings and sections.
- Use ALL CAPS rather than bold, italic or custom fonts to
emphasize a word or words.
Once you're ready to submit your application, select all of
the text in your document, copy and paste it into the résumé text
box in the online application. Do not attach your résumé unless
the job posting specifically requests you to do so.
When to use a formatted résumé
you’re required to apply for UW jobs with electronic documents,
you'll need to have hard copies of your résumé on
hand for interviews. If you are applying for a job outside the UW,
use a formatted résumé if the job posting requires you
to email, fax, or send through US mail. You should target your formatted
résumé to the job for which you are applying.
- If possible keep your formatted résumé to one, no
more than two, pages.
- Use headings to highlight the different categories of information
in separate sections.
- Use an easy to read, 11 or 12 point font.
- Use reasonable margins and spaces in between sections. White space
used effectively improves the readability of your résumé.
Best tip for all resumes! Have someone proofread
your résumé before you submit it or bring it to an interview.
Most jobs require "attention to detail" so make sure your
résumé doesn't make you look sloppy.
Typical categories of information to include
- Identifying and contact information. Make it easy
to find out who you are and how to reach you. Provide your name,
address, phone numbers, and email address at the top of your résumé.
- Objective. Consider the objective as the "headline" for
your résumé. To be effective, it should mention your
preferred field or work setting and the skills or functions to be
used or performed. Avoid vague generalizations such as, "Challenging
administrative position that utilizes my skills and experience."
- Skills Summary. Many résumés include
a skills summary or summary of qualifications at or near the top
that clearly states skills and experiences that match the positions
being targeted. A skills summary should be brief, 4 - 6 lines
in length, and lead with the skills or qualifications that match
the type of positions for which you will be applying.
- Education. Your educational credentials are listed
either before or after your experience depending on how much related
experience you have. Recent graduates almost always provide their
educational background first, whereas someone with many years experience
in the field may list their education after their experience. Your
degree(s), the schools you attended, their location (city, state
or province, and country, if outside the USA), and the date of the
degree(s) are listed. Other credentials, such as certificates, continuing
education credits, and/or related courses may also be included in
- Experience. You may include both paid and unpaid
experience in this section. The key is to highlight the experience
you have that is related to the job you are seeking. List your position
title, the name of the organization, the location, and dates of employment
or involvement. Write brief compelling descriptions of your responsibilities
and accomplishments beginning with action verbs. Include not only
the duties that you performed but also how you performed them, e.g., "Coordinated
staff calendars by entering new appointments in the Oracle calendar
system." These descriptions do not need to be complete sentences.
It is common to use phrases that omit personal pronouns and definite
and indefinite articles like "the" and "a" in
order to achieve conciseness. Whenever possible include information
about the results or outcomes.
- Activities. Activities may include hobbies, sports,
organized groups, volunteer service and community involvement. If
your activities are relevant to the position, describe them in more
detail using the same format you used to describe your experiences:
your position or role, organization, location, and dates with a short
description of your responsibilities and accomplishments.
- Professional memberships and affiliations. List
by name or organization and dates of membership.
- Awards, honors and recognition. If these are relevant
and prestigious you may want to list them in your summary near the
top of your resume or, if appropriate, in your education section. Otherwise,
list them at or near the end indicating the name of the award, a
brief explanation (if necessary), and the date received.
- Interests. Hobbies, travel experiences, and avocations
may be listed at the end of your résumé, if space allows.
This section can make you memorable, but use good judgment. You want
the impression you convey to be a positive and appropriate one.
- Reverse chronological (see sample). This style is the most
common and is preferred by most employers because it is easy to find
the information they are using to screen candidates. It works well
for candidates who have experience and education related to the positions
for which they are being evaluated. Each section is organized with
the most recent experience listed first.
- Reverse chronological with summary (see sample). A summary
highlighting related skills and qualifications is often included
at the top of a résumé either instead of an objective
or just below the objective. The best summaries are targeted to the
position and make clear how the candidate matches the required and
preferred qualifications of the job.
- Functional or skills (see sample).This style groups experiences
together by skill or job function. It can be effective in highlighting
transferable skills from a variety of experiences that are not obviously
related to a targeted position. It is a risky style to use, because
employers do not prefer it. However, if you are new to a field or
changing fields or roles, it may be the most effective style for
showing the match between your background and the requirements of
the job. It is recommended to also include a brief work and/or volunteer
history near the end of your resume, so that the employer can see
where you have obtained your experience.
How to stand out from the crowd
- Focus on skills,
- Highlight how you match the position,
- Use action verbs,
- Include results and outcomes.
A word about references
It is not necessary to indicate on your résumé that
your references are available upon request. Most employers will assume
that you will supply the names of references, if asked. Instead, you
may create a separate reference sheet that can either accompany your
résumé when you submit it or can be brought with you
to an interview.
Additional resources for getting started:
Ryan, Robin, Winning Résumés. Second Edition.
Hoboken NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2003.