Writing a Résumé


The book now turns its attention to writing a résumé and the equivalent document in academic fields, the curriculum vitæ (CV). These documents represent essentially all that an individual has done in a professional career. In the absence of a face-to-face meeting, these documents represent a person and are used to evaluate a person. Another document called the biographical sketch (or bio sketch for short), used for example with the submission of a talk abstract, is usually much less formal than the résumé or CV. If someone has a résumé, it should be fairly easy to draft a bio sketch, but going in the other direction will require the person to fill in a considerable number of details. Nearly all job openings require the applicant to submit a résumé before the applicant will be considered for the position. A well-formatted résumé could dramatically improve an individual’s chances of successfully obtaining a desirable job. Thus the subject of this chapter bears serious consideration.
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History And Purpose Of The Résumé

In the first few sections of this chapter we examine the essential, common, and miscellaneous parts of a résumé. We then examine the common parts of a CV. We include a section titled Final Checklist which will help a person to ensure that no important items were missed. Then we offer suggestions on résumé and CV submission and how to follow up on such a submission. The chapter ends with a section containing conclusions.

In this section we explore the history and purpose of the résumé, make general comments about résumés and CVs, address integrity, and conclude the section with a discussion of style issues. Let us now turn our focus to the history and purpose of the résumé.

The résumé has a relatively short history. Executives and upper-level managers began creating lists of their work experience and accomplishments in the late 1950s and early 1960s; these lists were used as notes during interviews. Frequently, the applicant gave a copy of these notes to the interviewer to remind the person of the candidate’s qualifications when the hiring decision was actually being made. During the 1970s, résumés became more common for professional positions at all levels as a supplement to the standard employment application. By the early 1980s virtually all applications for skilled or specialized positions were expected to include a résumé. The résumé highlights a potential candidate’s education and experience as qualifications for the position.

As the popularity of the Internet increased in the late 1990s and from 2000 onward, it became popular to maintain a résumé online. In fact, many employers require that potential employees submit their résumés online. There are many job sites on the Internet where job candidates can submit their résumés to a résumé database and search for available jobs (Indeed, 2011; JobCentral, 2011; Monster, 2011). Some employers may search these databases for job candidates. In this chapter we focus on the fundamentals of résumé writing, so that a person can develop either an online or printed version of a résumé. There are a number of books available that contain additional information about résumé writing, and we provide a few references in the following list: (Curtis and Simons, 2004), (Moreira, 2007), and (Rosenberg, 2008).

From this short history we see that the main purpose of a résumé is to demonstrate to a potential employer an individual’s qualifications for the job being sought. One of the best ways of thinking about a résumé is as an advertising or marketing tool for selling oneself as the most-qualified candidate. A well-written résumé should differentiate a candidate from the rest of the pack of applicants—as both a worker and an individual.

Sometimes the words résumé and curriculum vitæ are written with the special characters as shown here, but the most-recent trend is to use the more-easily typed equivalents with standard English letters, resume and curriculum vitae, or simply vita or CV. Either form is acceptable, but pick one and use it consistently. Likewise, avoid switching back and forth between the words résumé and curriculum vitæ. Lastly, there are two other alternative spellings of résumé—resumé and résume. Again, if someone has a favorite, it should be used consistently.

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