CATS Career Development - Resume Essentials

A resume is an advertisement for you in terms of your abilities, accomplishments and future capabilities. It is the chief marketing tool in your job-search campaign. The purpose of a resume is to get an interview.


  • CHRONOLOGICAL: the most common format currently in use. Sections on educational background and work experience are arranged in reverse chronological order.
  • FUNCTIONAL: more difficult to construct than the chronological yet emphasizes qualifications, skills and related accomplishments. De-emphasizing dates, the functional resume instead organizes skills into functional categories, such as Leadership, Technical and Interpersonal. Individuals with a wide range of skills but relatively little formal work experience prefer to categorize their abilities and highlight their transferable skills using the functional approach.
  • ELECTRONIC: scanned by a computer using optical character recognition software that searches for specific skills, experiences and education. Scannable resumes have a plain format and emphasize key words.

  • IDENTIFICATION INFORMATION: name, address, phone number, email address, permanent address and permanent phone number.
  • OBJECTIVE: a statement of your job or career objective is advisable but optional. It should be a concise and specific statement of the type of position you are seeking. If you are interested in various types of positions, it is important to prepare separate resumes that reflect your interest in specific types of employment. In addition, it is important to avoid general objectives and generic expressions such as ?a challenging entry-level position.? Employers use objectives to relate their needs to your job interests.
  • EDUCATION: for each post-secondary degree (most recent first) include the name and location of the institution, majors, minors, areas of concentration, types of degrees earned, date of graduation, grade point average if it is a 3.0 or above. Also, highlight educational achievements such as membership in honorary societies, Dean?s List citations, etc. As an alternative, you may include your academic honors in the ?Honors and Activities? section of your resume.
  • RELEVANT COURSE WORK: this is an optional section that lists specific courses you have completed which will enhance your candidacy for the position you are seeking. Focus on classes related to your career field of interest.
  • WORK EXPERIENCE: start with the most recent and include: position held, name and location of the organization, dates employed, responsibilities, achievements/significant contributions and demonstrated skills. Employers will be most interested in work experience gained during college, including internships, part-time or work-study jobs, summer employment and volunteer work. If you have career-related experience, you can divide your experience into two sections: ?Career Related Experience? and ?Other Experience.?
    Don?t just list your experiences. Instead, describe your experience by using Action Words such as ?created,? ?planned,? ?designed,? and ?initiated.? A list of additional Action Words are included in this guide.
  • HONORS & ACTIVITIES: include participation in University of Kentucky athletics, campus and community organizations, as well as academic honors received (if not in the Education section of your resume). Highlight leadership roles such as being team captain, holding offices, being a project chair or serving on a committee. Memberships in professional organizations or associations should also be included.
  • COMPUTER SKILLS: describe the hardware and software that you are familiar with or proficient at.
  • REFERENCES: on a separate page labeled ?References? include the names, titles, organizations, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses of 3 ? 5 professional references. Past employers, professors, advisors and coaches make good references but be certain to gain their permission before using their names. Use the same stock of paper that your resume is printed on.
  • OTHER POSSIBLE HEADINGS: Volunteer Activities, Sales Experience, Professional Affiliation, Research Work, Special Skills and Military Service.
    Use high-quality stock of at least 20-pound weight. White, off-white, tan or light gray are generally accepted colors. The darker the color, the more difficult it is for an employer to read.


    - Use key words to identify specific skills
    - Use light paper (white is best)
    - Print on a laser printer in black ink
    - Use sans serif fonts such as Arial or Helvetica
    - Use a 12-point font and only one style
    - Include special skills (i.e. foreign languages, computer programs, etc)
    - Write concisely in short phrases
    - Place your name on the top line with addresses and phone numbers on separate lines
    - Use double columns
    - Use underlining or graphics
    - Use shading or boxing
    - Fold, crease or staple your resume
    - Forget to utilize white space
    - Use italics, script or decorative fonts
    - Use non-standard paper sizes; 8 ? x 11 is recommended
    - Use vertical or horizontal lines - Use a font that allows letters to connect in any way

    CATS Resume Checklist

  • Name: make sure it is the 1st thing the employer sees and is set-apart from the rest of the text (bold/larger font size)
  • Be Consistent: format each heading, subheading, etc. in the same way (i.e., if you italicize the location of your university, italicize the locations of your employment sites.) ALSO, make sure your cover letter, resume and reference list are all printed on the same type of paper, in the same font and structured similarly
  • Do not list your experiences ? describe and explain them: what skills did you acquire from that specific experience/what contributions did you make that will illustrate that you will be able to make contributions to the employer
  • Make it concise, easy-to-read & clean: NO TYPOS!
  • Include GPA if it is above a 3.0 (rule of thumb)
  • Length: 1 page per degree
  • References: include a reference list on a separate sheet
  • Effectively use white space ? this will make your resume more reader-friendly
  • Use at least a 10-point font ? 11 or 12 is best
  • Don?t over-use highlights (bold, italics, underlines) this can distract the reader
  • Include: educational experience, work experience, honors, activities, volunteer experience, internships, relevant course work, computer skills & other special skills
  • Use a laser printer ? it will look professional and the copies will be clean
  • Do not use ?Templates? that are part of word processing computer programs
  • PROOFREAD, PROOFREAD, PROOFREAD! Ask others to critique your resume before you go to press. The Career and Personal Development Coordinator in CATS and Career Counselors at the Career Center are professionals willing to edit your resume. Be prepared to make changes.
  • Electronic or Scannable Resume

  • Scanned by a computer using optical character recognition software
  • Helps large employers manage a large number of resumes
  • Used to respond to Internet job postings
  • Database search for specific skills, experience and education
  • Tips for Writing a Scannable Resume

  • Use key words to identify yours skills
  • Use a sans serif font like Arial & Helvetica in size 10-14
  • Avoid italics, script, underlining, bullets, columns, lines, and graphics
  • Always send originals
  • Minimize abbreviations
  • Maximize industry jargon
  • Originals on white paper with black ink scan best
  • Proofread very carefully
  • E-mail a copy to yourself
  • Do not fold or staple