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The Sole Purpose of a Resume

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The sole purpose of a resume is to get you an interview. If you have worked hard to get the experience and credentials that you need to build a winning resume, your next goal is to present that information effectively. Unfortunately, many people are so intimidated by the thought of "bragging" about themselves that they fail to provide potential employers with the information that might get them a job. Others are so worried about the format of the resume and the need to compress education and experience into a short, readable form that they delete important information just to make their credentials fit on one page. Before you start to work on your resume, take the time to answer a few questions:

  1. What kind of job are you looking for?

  2. Where do you want to work?

  3. What work, internship, or volunteer experience do you have?

  4. How does that experience relate to what you want to do?

  5. What academic credentials do you have?

  6. Is your school noted for its research or programs in technical education?

  7. Does your school have the kind of prestige that makes a personnel director want to read your resume?

  8. Have you achieved any special recognition for your studies or volunteer work?

  9. Why do you want this particular job? What is it about this organization's philosophy, location, or salary that makes it special?

Once you have answered these questions, think about your strengths as a potential employee. As you develop your resume, you must emphasize these strengths. Many people are intimidated by the process of developing a resume, but the mechanics of a resume are very straightforward. There are five basic elements of a resume: heading, experience, education, honors and awards, and references.


This information includes your name, an address where you can always be reached, and a phone number for an answering machine or answering service.


You need to make one of your first important decisions here. If your strengths lie in experience, lead with it. If your strengths lie in your academic preparation, list that information first.

When you discuss your work experience, be careful to include jobs that directly relate to the job that you seek. Although resumes need to be brief, you shortchange yourself if you do not spend a sentence or two discussing the job responsibilities that relate to the job you want. A simple list of places where you worked and dates of employment may not be of much help. The personnel director who reads your resume needs to see a connection between the volunteer or work experience that you have had and the kinds of responsibilities that a new job might entail. If you are applying for a position in a secondary school, make sure that you include any coaching or extracurricular experience that you have acquired.


All of the jobs that we have discussed require academic credentials, and many of these jobs also require a state license. Although it may not seem very logical, personnel directors receive resumes from people who apply for jobs but don't have the academic credentials to be hired for them. A personnel director must be able to scan your resume and find out what you are licensed to do. Be sure to include the name and address of the college or university that you attended and the dates you earned your degrees. List your licenses separately, and be sure that you include the date that you earned them.

In addition to your licenses and degrees, be sure to discuss any teachable minor areas of study. If you participated in any special activities in college, as a teaching assistant, peer tutor, or member of any college team, you need to include that information as well. The athletic, academic, and leadership skills that you developed through these activities can be very useful in any profession.

Honors and Awards

If you received a scholarship, or if you have been recognized for leadership or service, be sure to record that information on your resume. Even though the awards may not directly relate to your career goal, anything that demonstrates a willingness to assume responsibility or to provide leadership helps prospective employers see you as an asset to their organization.

Work on the rough draft of your resume. Don't be afraid to use more than one page. You need to provide specific information about your experience and credentials that will encourage a person nel director to call you for an interview. Don't delete important information just to keep your resume short.

There are several possible resume formats to choose from. Spend an hour or so looking at different formats and rearranging the information in them until you find a format that works for you. Please remember that the format is less important than careful attention to spelling, grammar, punctuation, and factual detail. It is important that you resist the temptation to embroider your resume with half-truths or outright lies. Don't claim awards or experience that you don't have. Many personnel directors have excellent skills when it comes to reading body language. It is very likely that they will sense that something is wrong when they ask about credentials that you don't really have. Even if you are able to fabricate your way into a job, the stress of worrying about being exposed is not worth any advantage that a fraudulent resume can buy you.


If you have any letters pertaining to your volunteer experience, student teaching, clinical experience, or co-curricular activities, copy and attach those letters as well. You will also have a file of recommendations from professors and supervisors at your clinical experience. These letters will probably be confidential, so you must offer to have your placement file sent to the personnel director on request. The following sample resume might be a good starting point for your own efforts.
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