Guide to Resume Building

By Paul Harmelin

Research conducted by The Ladders revealed that recruiters initially reviewing your resume will spend only 6 seconds before deciding to consider your resume further. This means, as applicants, it is crucial to hone resume-building skills to highlight your best attributes for the position you desire. May these tools assist you in that process.

Fully understand the needs of the position for which you are applying. Consider knowledge, skillsets, experience, and personality required.   Ask yourself:

  1. What are my core qualifications that make me a good candidate?
  2. How can I support those qualifications through skill-based evidence?

Write a Professional Summary – not an objective.

  1. This should be a brief (3-4 sentences) synopsis of your experiences, skillsets, your passion as well as potentially your latest professional success.
  2. Example: “Highly motivated professional with a passion for experiential education, leadership programming and group development processes. Driven by creating opportunities for others to identify and achieve their personal best. In the 2013/2014 fiscal year, managed a program that exceeded 3,000 participants for the 2nd year in a row and generated over $80,000 in revenue exceeding the goal by 20%.”

Proper Sequence

  1. Name/Contact Information followed by your professional summary.
  2. Professional experience or education can be next. This is determined by which is your better selling point.
  3. Other qualifications (Big question – what is necessary and not extraneous?)
    • Professional presentations, trainings/certifications applicable to the position, honors, awards, special accomplishments, volunteer leadership experience or membership in professional associations.

Use Brief Dot Points

  1. Describe your work experience without using any fluff.
  2. Use action words:  Launched…  Successfully managed…  Forecasted…  Developed…  Coached…  Coordinated…
  3. Use #’s, %’s, and $’s to quantify your success.
  4. Use the appropriate tense. If you are describing your current position, use the present tense. If you are describing a previous position, use past tense.

Resume Length

  1. This varies with your professional experience and what is critical for the position.  If you are early in your career, keep your resume to 1 page. If you are seasoned with 10+ years of experience, keep your resume no longer than 2-3 pages.
  2. Include only information that highlights you as a great candidate! That internship 10 years ago might have been a great experience builder, however if it was not high profile you can remove it.
  3. If you highlighted a developed skillset with another position, remove it from the other. This will decrease your resume length.

Items to Remove

  1. Pictures or flashy detail that will distract the reader.
  2. GPA unless it’s a GPA to be proud of AND that is recent.
  3. Leave off “References will be furnished upon request.” Either supply references as an additional attachment or bring them with you for the interview.
  4. In general, URL’s to blogs, LinkedIn account or other social media sites. If this makes sense for the position you are applying for, then include URL’s – just do not go overboard.

Proofread by you and others

Have another set of eyes review your resume! We all overlook items the more we stare at a project. Let a fresh set of eyes review your resume before submitting.

Want to keep these tips for future use?  Download this guide.


  1. Seven tips to Leverage Long-Term Employment on your Resume. http://careeradvice.monster.com/resumes-cover-letters/Resume-Writing-Tips/long-term-employmentresume/article.aspx
  2. Seven Mistakes that Make Your Professional Resume -- and You – Look Old. http://info.theladders.com/career-advice/outdated-resume-mistakes
  3. Ten Tips for a Great Resume. http://tulane.edu/hiretulane/students/upload/10-Tips-for-a-Great-Resume.pdf
  4. Want an Unbeatable Resume? http://www.forbes.com/sites/kerryhannon/2011/08/24/want-anunbeatable-resume-read-these-tips-from-a-top-recruiter/
  5. You Have 6 Seconds to Make an Impression: How Recruiters See Your Resume.  http://info.theladders.com/inside-theladders/you-only-get-6-seconds-of-fame-make-it-count
  6. Federal Resume Guide: What You Should Know When Applying for a Federal Career.  http://www.archives.gov/careers/jobs/forms/resume-guide.pdf