Resume Writing Guide

How you find employment is now more in your control than it has ever been. There are jobs waiting to be filled and a top rate resume can shorten the length of your search. At C.E. Publications, we specialize in helping job seekers find positions in the contract staffing industry. If you are not familiar with this type of non-fee employment, you should probably read An Introduction to Contract Staffing before proceeding. This article on resumes, however, is beneficial to all job seekers... even those searching for non-contract employment.

Your resume is your most crucial job-seeking resource. It can place you in front of a wide range of people who have the ability to guide you into a new job: contract staffing firms, working peers, hiring departments, family and neighbors who might "know someone" and, of course, the multitude of opportunities online. Resumes allow you to release detailed information into the proper hands and should contain:

  • Basic information: who you are, including education
  • Summary: What you can do and why you would be a good hire
  • Employment History: How you became this candidate
  • Availability: When and where you can report for work

Begin your resume by placing basic information such as your name, job title, contact information (including email address, cell phone as well as a permanent phone number), education, security clearances, and certifications at the top of page one. Who you are shows them your basic potential right up front. Age is not, and should not, become an issue. It is actually illegal for companies to discriminate based on many criteria, including your age. Simply avoid listing birth and graduation dates.

Since we are not proponents of cover letters, a summary paragraph functions nicely as an overview to highlight areas of expertise, projects, computer skills, etc. Complete sentences are not necessary. Pull the reader in to focus on what you can do for them with clear and concise wording.

Employment History is your actual work experience in reverse chronological order (most recent job first). Each position must be factual and loaded with information: complete with a specific job title, dates worked, company name and location, and a brief description of your responsibilities. Your employment records should include dates and company names for, at least, the past 10 to 15 years. Additional background could be grouped together under the title of "Prior Experience" or listed as "Prior experience provided upon request". Be sure to always have your complete details available. You know your work history better than anyone else, so accentuate your strengths. And... if your skill set contains hard-to-locate or unusual areas of expertise, be sure to include those in the appropriate places.

Additional employment considerations: If you are new to the job market or to a discipline (or have been retrained for a new skill)"you need to give a potential employer a reason to hire you. Perhaps you truly want to work for a specific company. Why is that particular firm important to you" List your education, recent training, internships, prior history that shows your abilities in areas such as teamwork, additional computer skills, problem solving, peer mentoring, projects in class study, etc. Volunteer positions may also serve as work experience.

References: We recommend listing no references on your resume. The tagline "References are available upon request" is perfectly acceptable. This protects your references from sales calls as well as the release of their information to the masses. Keep them readily available, as references are often part of the interview process. We suggest you ask your references for their permission to release contact information.

Where and when you can perform your job skills has new meaning today. Your availability is critical in today's job market. Most companies are looking for applicants ready to go to work immediately. If you are not, say so rather than turning out to be a no-show for the initial interview or first day of work. Some applicants are able to work from home. Perhaps you have travel limitations or there may not be workspace available at the company. The employer might consider adapting their requirements to accommodate the right applicant. Let this information become part of your resume only if it is necessary. Even if you think you would never relocate to accept a new position, many of us could make that work. You do not want to avoid conversation that could result in the dream assignment for you. There will always be time to mention specifics during the interviewing and negotiating process following the initial resume contact. You could miss out on a great opportunity if you limit yourself on your major selling tool: your resume.

Basic resume guidelines:

  • Use 8-1/2 x 11 inch white paper and black ink
  • Use Word or similar word processing program
  • Avoid formatting your text into tables, columns, or using graphics
  • Use a plain, sans serif typeface. If you must choose a serif typeface, choose a standard font such as Times. Avoid script.
  • Type size should be 10 to 12 point with margins of at least inch on all sides.
  • Try to use standard characters such as dash, asterisk, or round bullet in place of boxes, arrows, or other unusual characters.
  • Include both a permanent contact and present address, email address, website (if your resume is on the web), and phone numbers. You may be contacted through a permanent number long after you have moved.
  • Your job discipline(s) near your name at the top of page one of your resume, and list specific titles for each assignment
  • A summary paragraph near the top of your resume. Be brief, complete and include keywords. Omission of just one keyword can prevent retrieval of your resume in a word search.
  • Employment History: list in reverse chronological order
  • Be consistent in presenting similar information (i.e., Jan. 98, January 1998, or 1/98)
  • List "under contract to" for any contract assignments on which you may have worked.
  • Give security clearance status, if any. If your security clearance has expired, include the date of expiration.
  • Write job descriptions in easy-to-understand terms, and as completely as space allows.
  • Include your name and page number on each page of a multiple-page resume (do not number the first page)
  • If your resume is too long, due to an extensive number of job assignments, leave the oldest positions off and type "Prior Experience Available Upon Request". Then prepare a "complete" resume to furnish only to firms asking for it.
  • Don't include a cover sheet
  • Don't use a "Job Objective". A "Job Objective" tells a firm what you want from them; a "Summary" tells what you can do for them.
  • Don't exaggerate your experience or offer explanations for leaving prior employers.
  • View Sample Resume
    Introduction to Contract Staffing
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