Resume 101

Thursday, January 15, 2009 ·

I typically make a point not to edit/adjust the resumes of my candidates. The resume is a reflection of you to the employer. You should put effort into creating your resume and it should be easy to read. For those of you that don't care, or have no clue if your resume is worthy of submission, here is a my basic outline for a resume. Also some tips on what to do and what not to do.

You should have at least the following.

This basic outline will describe content only, not design. I have opinions on design, but content is more important. This isn’t rocket surgery lets not make it more difficult than it needs to be.

From top to bottom -

Contact info: Name – address(just city and state if you wish) – email – cell phone

Example: (Does not have to be centered. Just have all the info together, but not in a table.

First name Last name

1111 Main Street, Anytown, MN 55000


Objective: What are you looking for / what do you want to do. Very very important. Please read Know Thyself post for more info. Two sentences at the most. Try not to start with “To Obtain” most Objectives read like this:

“To obtain a fast paced, challenging position working with a team of technology professionals to further my skills in the information technology field.”

What is that objective saying to you?… No kidding I’ve seen this exact same description in multiple resumes. It’s too generic and doesn’t really say anything.

Be specific about what you are seeking and what your skills are. Not what you’d “hope to obtain” or “like to have.”

Technical Skills: List out what you know and what you have exposure to. Programming Languages, Frameworks, Database, Servers, Networks, Operating Systems and Specialty Tools/Applications. Best to list them in order of experience and capabilities. What are you good at and what are you just learning.

Outstanding Projects: If you have an Outstanding Project with experience relevant to an employer, or maybe something award winning, add it prior to the Work Experience section. Be direct and cut to the technologies used. Also, add the outcome and your responsibilities with this project. Try not to use long paragraphs, but use bullet points when you can. Example:

Developed This “web site” for a specific use which resulted in a this outcome.

Responsibilities included. – Add bullet points here

Technologies used: XYZ, ABC, so on and so on.

What’s next Education or Work Experience: Depending on how much work experience you have, you may want to put our education first. Here is my IF Then statement that will help you determine which one is first. IF number of relevant (tech career related) jobs =>2 THEN Work Experience should be next and Education will be added to the end of the resume. IF years experience at 1 jobs is =>2 THEN again Work Experience should be next on the resume. Thus, only if you have 1 tech relevant job under 2 years experience, should you add Education next on the resume.

Work Experience: The Work Experience section should be organized in chronological order, most recent first. Containing - Company, location, start and end date, title, company description or industry clarification and bullet point list of duties for each employer.


XYZ Company Saint Paul, MN 03/2005 – 09/2007

Industry: Something that describes the companies main business.

Programmer Analyst

  • Define duties using action words.
  • Example: Developed, Initiated, Lead, Proposed, Managed, Maintained, Produced, Created, Integrated, Designed , Administered, Expanded, Trained, Demonstrated…
  • Use shorter phrases or 1 to 2 sentences.
  • Should be direct and contain Tools Used, Responsibilities, Outcomes, benefits to the company. Also any verifiable metrics.

Education: Degree title

Learning Institution, date and graduation

Major and Minor GPA if in the last 2 years

Any additional info regarding additional training, certifications or classes. Listed as bullet points below.

Bachelor of Science Degree

This University, Anytown, Minnesota Graduation Date: 12/2006

Major: Computer Science Minor: Math Cumulative GPA: 3.35, Deans List

Association/Awards/Honors: List related organizations, groups, awards especially in tech or professional development related areas. Including user groups, associations, frequent forum affiliations, college groups if within the last 2 years.

References: “References available upon request.” Make sure you have at least 3 ready, but never send to an employer unless they request references.

Do’s and Don’ts:


name your resume file FirstnameLastname.doc

have month/year start and end employment dates.

use bullet points and / or short phrases, 2 sentences max.

have someone you trust look over your resume for small typos

allow yourself 1, 2 or 3 pages depending on work experience. 1 page is not a rule.

Do Not:

use a lot of tables in the design of your resume.

submit your resume in .PDF (MS Word only)

name the resume file Resume10.doc, or JohnS.doc. Use first and last name only

inundate your resume with tech tools in Bold. Don’t over do it.

describe projects or responsibilities in long paragraph form.

list hobbies or personal affiliations



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I'm not a blogger. So consume at your own risk.
Since 1995 I've been working with software developers helping them increase their value through technical training and connecting them to great employers. This blog is dedicated to those technical professionals that want to get the most of out their career. I'll answer questions I get daily, common misconceptions and provide direction, but it's up to you to take action.
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