How to Write an Effective Resume

Posted by on March 24th, 2016

There are many statistics on the amount of time that recruiters, talent managers and hiring managers spend looking at resumes. Most of the stats lean towards the idea that these individuals spend mere moments looking at resumes before making a decision to move forward or pass. This is if the resume is actually being reviewed by a human rather than an electronic scanner searching for key words. With all of this in mind, it is imperative to assist your adult students in crafting effective, concise resumes that get them hired. Things that should be considered when creating winning resumes include organization and formatting, summary, skills, accomplishments and industry tailoring.

Organization & Formatting

Effective resumes should be clean, neat and organized. Remind students to choose a clear, standard font for their resume. Most popular, easy to read choices include Times New Roman and Arial. Arrange the information in an easy to read format using bullet points, indention and simple font enhancements (i.e. bold, italics) as necessary.

List the job and experience history in chronological order beginning with the most recent roles. Resumes should not be too long; typically, one to two pages will suffice. Anything longer decreases the likelihood of being read in its entirety. For students with limited work history, let them know that white space is okay on a resume especially if neatly organized. Finally, the text of the resume should be well-written and free of grammatical errors throughout.



Old resume formatting suggests starting the resume with an objective statement. Newer sources encourage replacing the objective statement with a professional summary. The professional summary is the first opportunity to highlight an applicant’s skills and grab the reader’s attention. Job seekers should use the summary to describe who they are and their ability to perform the desired role.



Catching resumes usually include a section to prominently display key skills. Computer skills, soft skills and job specific skills are the focus of the skills section. Bullet points help separate these specific skills and give the employer a concise overview of an applicant’s strengths.



In addition to job descriptions, job seekers should include their accomplishments. The accomplishments can be listed with each individual position, or grouped together under one heading. The accomplishments will allow job seekers to share achievements and quantify their value to an organization.


Industry Tailoring

Every industry has industry specific formatting and details for resumes. Encourage your students to research the industry norms once they have targeted a specific role. From there, tailor their resumes to match the industry for which they are applying. If they are applying for jobs across multiple industries, keep one standard resume and tailor it as necessary to accompany specific applications.


A resume is often a first impression for employers. A resume that is well put-together allows your students to make a great first impression against their competitors. A calculated approach with great attention to detail allows the resume to pass the first round of review, upping the chances of landing an interview and eventually securing the job.


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