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Keys for a Successful Resume

Keys for a Successful Resume

Is this the year you take the leap and enter the job market? If you are searching for a job, or already have one, it is always wise to have your resume current — just in case an opportunity may arise.

When searching the internet for “resume tips,” you might become inundated with conflicting information creating more questions than answers. As a result, we decided to ask an expert. Michael Dutcher is the assistant director of campus engagement for KSU’s Department of Career Planning and Development. He offers several helpful tips and advice on how to construct the best resume to land that interview.

Which Resume Do I Need?
There are three basic types of resumes: Chronological, Functional, & Combination. The choice of which type of resume to use really depends on what kind of information you’re attempting to showcase. As a rule of thumb, you want the most relevant information at the top of your resume. So, let’s say your relevant coursework and projects are more closely aligned with the job you’re seeking than your past employment. This may impact the order in which you include categories, the types of categories you include, and/or the type of resume you write.

Michael Dutcher

Michael Dutcher

Chronological Resume
Using this resume format is best for standard positions. Job posting says the ideal candidate is experienced in the field. Company culture leans toward traditional. This format is preferred by hiring managers and recruiters. Remember to list your most relevant achievements or highlights first in your bulleted lists.

Develop Strong Bullet Points
Maybe you have a great-looking resume, but it lacks the content employers are looking for. The problem is likely that your descriptions of past experiences are either too lengthy and are being overlooked, or are too brief and are leaving the employers without the information they need to bring you in for an interview. Here are some questions to ask yourself regarding your previous experience:

  • Did I obtain any product knowledge?
  • Did I train new employees?
  • Did I supervise when the boss was away?
  • Did I interact with customers?
  • Did I speak in front of others?
  • What results can I point to?
  • What skills did I learn from the experience?
  • How did I make a difference in the organization?
  • Did I come up with any ideas that positively affected the organization?

Targeted Resume
In today’s market, a resume should be as targeted as possible, so you will want to highlight different accomplishments and skills used within a prior job depending on where you are sending your resume. Pay attention to what key skills or experience the job description asks for in the post you are responding to. This may mean that every time you apply for a position, you will need to review your resume and make adjustments. Always consider your audience and what they will be looking for on your resume. This is why most individuals have multiple versions of their resume. After choosing the items you will include in your resume and in your bulleted lists or descriptions below each, you can make changes appropriate for the position you hope to land. Remember, this is a tool to get you an interview, not an autobiography.


  • Who is my audience?
  • What skills, knowledge, and abilities do they need an applicant to have?
  • Ask yourself this each time you apply for a position.

What Employers Want
Often, employers are more interested in transferable skills than they are in highly technical, field-specific skills. This is because most employers are looking for teachable candidates, who can easily fit into their company culture. You might find some of these phrases or words (or any number of specific “soft skills”) listed in the job postings you are applying to:

  • Strong communication skills
  • Initiative
  • Leadership
  • Teamwork
  • Ability to handle conflict
  • Analytical
  • Innovative/problem solver
  • Motivated and flexible
  • Vocational skills (skills specific to your industry)

If you have the skills listed above, it is not enough simply to list them under a skills section. They need to be demonstrated in your strong bullet points by showing the reader an example of a time you excelled in a role by using strong communication or leadership skills.

Remember, it’s your resume. It should accurately represent you and highlight all of your skills, experiences and accomplishments. To ensure that your resume is as effective as possible, apply the acronym C.O.D.E. Make sure your resume is:

CClear and easy to read

O Organized, with a logical flow of information

DDynamic and interesting to read, without redundancy

EError-free to showcase the quality of your work

For further assistance, visit our Online Career Guide. There you will find tips and advice on personal branding, job searching, networking, interviewing and salary negotiation.

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