Telling Your Story
Writing a resume can be frustrating. How much do I write? How do I write so it sounds professional, but not too cheesy? How much detail should I include? A seasoned advertising executive (who was previously a journalist) once told me that advertising is like journalism—just tell the story. In his case he sold products and services, but he still focused on telling each product’s story and how they could benefit a customer. In our case, a resume is a form of personal advertising, so I find it best to just tell your own professional story, as clearly and as succinctly as possible, and tell potential employers how you can benefit them.
I have provided resume categories below that I find helpful when I interview people. They help organize each person’s story into easy-to-read chunks of valuable information. I have a friend who recently retired as a Vice President of Human Resources. He found the summary of qualifications category most helpful when they would receive 100+ resumes for one job posting. He especially liked the information in bullet-points, because they were short, to-the-point, and allowed him and his staff to quickly learn if each candidate was initially qualified and was worth a second look and possibly an interview.
Organize your Information
Be sure to write clearly and succinctly. Read through sample resumes online and in resume books in our library to get ideas for your sentences and wording. Be sure to use your own words.
I would suggest following the categories listed below. They are the most common.
Name and Contact Information
- Web Portfolio
Summary of qualifications/skills (Use bullets on your resume) (Use a combination of hard and soft skills) Be sure to give specific examples. See the sample resumes on the following pages for ideas.
Hard skills: Design experience, freelance projects, computer experience, industry experience, printing/printers experience, packaging mock-ups, etc.
Soft Skills: Strong communication skills, organizational skill, ability to manage several projects at the same time, ability to manage a project from start to finish with little supervision, ability to work well in a team environment, ability to work under tight deadlines, ability to work well independently, punctual, dependable, reliable, resourceful, etc.
List all of the major graphics software that you are proficient with, experienced with, and have knowledge of (no browsers or leisure music/video software).
For each degree or school attended include: (do not include high school)
- Degree/diploma/certificate earned, Major
- School, City & State
List the last 3–5 jobs that you have held. List your most current job first, the rest in reverse chronological order. Look at the sample resume below, and others online and in library books for more examples and ideas.
For each job include:
- City, State
- Dates employed (Year, or Year–Year)
- 3–4 lines expand on individual duties and accomplishments at your job.
Be as specific as possible.
Write your achievements in bulleted points
Examples of graphics industry or work related achievements are:
- Employee of the month, company, (Month and Year)
- Gutenberg Award, project, award details, (Year)
- Excellence in Customer Service Award, employer, (Year)
- President of Student Government, Western Technical College, (Year–Year)
- Treasurer of Graphics Club, Western Technical College, (Year–Year)
I would suggest leaving out: Spending time with friends, traveling, water skiing, skiing, etc. They do not pertain to your ability to do the job and they could bias an employer.
I would leave these off:
- References—available upon request
- Portfolio—available upon request
Do not put personal information on your resume. No photos, religious or political beliefs, marital status, number of children, how many pets you have, etc. Just state the facts—and just the facts that relate to your ability to do the job for them and be a great addition to their company. If you get hired there will be plenty of time to get to know your boss on a personal level.
The “rock star” of your resume is the information about you and what you have to offer a potential employer. The ink color, design elements, type style, format, and shape all take a back seat to your information. There is nothing wrong with a type heavy resume with black type on off-white, lightly textured paper.
The employer wants to know if you can do this job. All of your past work experiences are valuable and will be considered—so write about them and be specific.
The resume gets you an interview. The interview gets you a job.
Wording your Resume
In order to help you with your wording, descriptions, and design I have provided several sample resumes for you to review. While there is no one way to write a resume, there are better ways. Keep writing and re-writing yours until is sounds clear and professional, and you are proud of it. It will be difficult, good writing always is, but it will be worth your efforts.
Here are some “before and after” examples that may help you when you begin writing your Experience category.
Make each responsibility sound professional and meaningful. Use short sentences, and do not exaggerate. Try to begin each sentence with words that describe your duties. These words, like responsibility, trusted, trained, performed, managed, etc., help to quickly define your role and set a positive tone.
And remember to be as specific as possible with each job responsibility. The more detailed your answer, the more informative it will be to your interviewer. And the more it will demonstrate that you have valuable skills that you will use at your new job.
- Customer service phone rep
- Dealt directly with customers over the phone to solve problems with their products
- Handled an average of 30 customer calls per hour
- Made pizzas and bread sticks
- Prepared meals and met tight deadlines in a fast-paced environment
- Managed both the food prep area and the register during dinner rush
- Worked in a factory or assembly plant
- Performed several complex jobs on a fast-paced muffler production line
- Worked successfully in a 10-member team environment
- Worked with other team members to meet weekly quota of 1000 completed mufflers
- Ordered paper cups and plates monthly
- Solely responsible for maintaining and ordering all store inventory including dining, cooking, packaging and takeout supplies
- Manager at night when the boss would leave
- Closing responsibilities, including store lock up, nightly cash deposit, and preparing store for the next morning
- Responsible for the entire store when day manager left at 5:00 p.m.
- Called people at home to sell products
- Contacted perspective costumers from a designated phone list
- Explained product’s benefits and advantages to convince customers to buy our products
- Targeted several different demographic and geographic regions of the United Stated
- Dealt with money
- Responsible for timely evening cash deposits to the bank
- Trusted with bank deposits, a store key and access to the store safe
- Vacuumed the floors and mopped the entry way each night
- Maintained a clean, safe and organized work area
- My work area has remained accident free for my 3 years of employment
- Customer Service-Dealt with or answered calls from angry people
- Answered 30–40 calls per hour from newspaper customers in the Los Angeles area
- Maintained a positive attitude during stressful situations
- Decided which discounts and coupons to send customers as compensation for lost papers
- Poured concrete/carpenter/laborer
- Performed several different jobs on the construction site including cement mixing and finishing, wall framing, dry-walling, and finish carpentry work
- Responsible for the productivity and efficiency of a 3-person work crew
- Site management responsibilities
- Showed new employees around
- Responsible for training new employees on all equipment and dept. processes
- Trained 30 new employees in my two years of employment