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  Selling Yourself on Paper: Creating a Resume  

A practical workshop for undergraduate students

Dr. Paul Blowers   The University of Arizona  

Who Are You?

Before you start your resume, know who you are and what you have to offer.

Identify your values and goals.

Honestly identify your strengths and weaknesses. Know your motivations.

Evaluate yourself in terms of what you have accomplished. Identify what is relevant

and what is not.

Format and Content

There is no "best" format.

Conciseness, organization, physical appearance, and presentation sequence is what matters.

You need to stand out from the crowd (in a good way).

Show that you are the best candidate for the job.

Laying the Resume Out

Make your resume easy to read.

Leave lots of white space a vary the font styles for emphasis.

Do not use long, complex sentences - they tend to leave a blurred image.

Justify every word on your resume.

Try to keep the resume to as few pages as possible.


Sample of a Resume

Your Name Present Address                                                                    Permanent Address

Professional Objective
Describe the type of work you want to do

List highest degree first and work backward.
Identify employer, your title, brief description of job.
Honors and Activities
Include clubs, organizations, honor societies.
Special skills and hobbies, foreign languages
Military Service
Branch of service, rank, experience
State they are available upon request
Availability date


If you'd like to see how the same student's resume changed after another summer and semester of school, click here. Or how about when they had just begun their senior year, click here. And finally, the student graduated and produced their final resume that you can see here.  As you can see, this person had been extremely active and had developed a great resume for many different activities that they can pursue.  Don't feel panic stricken that you don't have all these activities on your resume at this point.  Go back and look at their freshman year example and you'll see that they felt the same way you do now about not having anything from college to put down.  The student followed in the examples developed one or two activities each year for work related items and one or two activities from volunteer work, always looking for ways to develop the skills they felt they lacked to get where they wanted to go with their career.  You can do the same!

The Career Objective

Establish a clear statement which is realistic.

Focus on what you want to do and not what you want to be.

If you aren't sure, be specific about what interest you.

Ex: entry level position in international systems management.

  Educational Background

Include the name of the institution, the degree received, and the year.

If your GPA is very good, list it - it will be a big selling point.

Mention particular subjects excelled in, honors, and publications.

  Employment Experience

List in reverse chronological order.

Describe what you did and how you contributed.

Show how your transferable skills will help your new company.

Do not dwell on assignments which are not applicable.

  Other Stuff

Do not put your references on the resume - this allows you to be flexible and change the list as needed.

Make sure your references know you are using them.

Use personal references only if requested or if you have not been previously employed.

Defer discussion of salary until you know more about the job.

  Before you Send It

Your resume must be error free!

No grammar errors, no spelling errors.

Is it visually attractive and easy to read?

Have someone else look over your resume to make sure you didn't leave anything out.

  The Cover Letter

It should be three or four paragraphs long.

Make sure there are no errors!

Try to tailor the cover letter to each company.

Keep a copy of every letter you send out so you can keep track of who you sent to and where they were.

  What does a Cover Letter Look Like?

                                                Your Present Address


Company Address

Dear ____________:

Tell them why you are writing, and the position you are applying for.

Summarize why you want this job. Highlight past achievements and experience.

Refer to your enclosed resume.

Have an appropriate closing to pave the way for future contact.


                                                (signed name)

                                                Typed Name




Fry, R. 101 Great Answers to the Toughest Interview Questions

Besson, T., Cover Letters, Prove Techniques for Writing Letters that Will Help you Get the Job you Want

Hirsch, A. S., Interviewing

Besson, T., Resumes

National Business Employment Weekly by Dow Jones

AIChE Journal Chemical Engineering Progress



My current and past students



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2007 Arizona Board of Regents for The University of Arizona