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Writing a Winning Resume


A Resume is...

  • A marketing brochure to sell yourself to an ________________
  • A brief _____________ of your skills
  • A tool used to get the _____________
  • A way employers use to _____________ applicants
  • An opportunity to create a great _____________
  • A _____________ to your interview

What are Employers looking for in a Resume?

  1. Overall appearance and _____________ quality.
  2. _____________ phrases.
  3. Measured __________________ that show what you can do for their business.

Resume Tips

  • Keep it Short and Simple (KISS)
  • Make it easy to read and scan
  • Top third most important (highlights)
  • Don’t use “I” or “me”
  • 1-2 pages in length
  • Use “action” or “skill” words
  • Be careful not to use jargon

    Use only use your last 10 years of experience

  • Be careful with spell check!
  • Have someone review it!
  • Ask yourself, “If I were the employer, would I interview this person?”
  • Expect to revise, revise, and revise again!
  • Prepare a “Job Specific” resume for each position you apply for
  • Use 10-12 font
  • Use Arial or Times New Roman font
  • Use plain, professional paper
  • Target your resume for each job!

Step 1.
Choose a job target (also called a job objective).
I want a job as a _________________________ in the __________________ field. Use this site to help with Steps 2-4.

Step 2.
What skills, knowledge, and experience are needed to do your target job?

Step 3.
Make a list of your strongest skills and abilities (3 or 4) that make you a good candidate for your target job.

Step 4.
For each of your skills, think of several accomplishments you have done to illustrate that skill.

Step 5.
Describe each accomplishment in a simple, powerful action statement that emphasizes results that benefited your employer.

Step 6.
Make a list of the positions you have held, in chronological order.

Step 7.
Make a list of your training and education that is related to the new job you want.

Step 8.
Choose a resume format that fits your situation.

Chronological: If you are staying in the same field and you have unbroken employment history.

Functional: If you are making a career change OR do not have a continuous record of employment.


  • I've held the same job for more than five years.
  • My employment history is one of stability.
  • I rarely hop from job to job.
  • My past employer is a prestigious company well known in my field.
  • My job titles are impressive.
  • I plan to continue in the same field as my past job.
  • I have considerable experience but in one area only.
  • I have a limited repertoire of skills.


  • I am changing careers.
  • I have never held one job for a long period of time.
  • I recently finished school and do not have any professional experience.
  • I am re-entering the job force after a considerable absence.
  • I am proficient in many areas and have many skills.
  • I have held many jobs in a variety of unrelated work areas.
  • Most of my work experience has been freelance or temporary.
  • My skills fit better with my present career objective than prior job titles.

Personal Information

  • Your first and last name should go at the top so your name stands out (Bold font size 14-20)
  • List your address: street, city, state, zip (optional)
  • Include phone number with area code – limit to two phone numbers
  • List your personal e-mail address if you have one (should be professional)
  • Never put your picture on a resume or include any personal information such as marital status, age, etc. that an employer can use to discriminate. Think EEO: age, disability, national origin, race, religion and gender.


  • Used to state what kind of job you are seeking
  • Focuses your resume
  • Keep it simple and specific
  • Use a general objective if you can’t change your resume for every job
  • It is optional – if not included employers will assume you are looking for a job similar to your last position
  • HINT: Think like you are in HR…”What pile do I put this resume in?”
    Example: “Sales representative in the pharmaceutical industry.”

Summary or Highlights of Qualifications (top 1/3 of resume is MOST IMPORTANT!)

  • Use to emphasize/summarize your skills as they apply to the minimum requirements
  • Use if you’re changing careers and need to highlight your transferable skills
  • Highlight the accomplishments that benefited your previous employers
    • Ten years of customer service experience
    • Creative problem solver with exceptional organizational skills
    • Ability to plan, initiate, and carry out ideas and programs
    • Computer Skills: MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access
    • Bilingual in English and German

Education, and Honors, Awards and Activities These categories can be combined or separated, as you prefer.

  • List your most recent education first. State the name of school attended, degree, major (if applicable), city, state, and years attended or graduation date
  • Put your education towards the top if it will help you get the job, otherwise put it on the bottom of your resume (New Grads 1-5 years can move to top) after that move to bottom. Include your G.P.A. if it is 3.0 or above. You can list your G.P.A. in your major, provided you list the number of courses you’ve used to determine the average (i.e. Major G.P.A.: History 3.5 (8 courses). Overall G.P.A.: 3.2).
  • High School not required on resume if college student or graduate (but is normally required on application)
  • If you were active in school and can write paragraphs about your extracurricular activities, you are free to select only the three or four most interesting/impressive ones.
  • Commonly known honors (Phi Theta Kappa) need no explanation, though lesser or unknown awards can be explained briefly.
  • How to list your education (first example is during college, second is after graduation)

    Paradise Valley Community College, Phoenix, AZ, currently enrolled, GPA 3.5
    Completed 48/64 credits toward Associate in Arts Degree

    • Phi Theta Kappa
    • Presidents’ Scholarship

    Associate in Arts Degree, May 2012, GPA 3.5 with Honors
    Paradise Valley Community College, Phoenix, AZ

Professional/Relevant/Work Experience

  • Summary of your job descriptions and duties (Refrain from using the work duty and responsibility- these are 70’s terms)
  • List your most recent job first and work your way back for 10 years
  • Try to include statements of achievements and contributions. The top thing that employers are looking for: What did you accomplish at your job? (Look at the job description to find this
  • Emphasize duties that will be transferable to the job you are seeking
  • State your Job Title, Company Name, Dates Employed, City, State, and Job Description
  • Use action/skills words to start your sentences (i.e. Trained new employees)
  • Keep your sentences short (One to two lines)
  • Use past tense to describe all jobs (even your current job)
  • If you have had a series of job titles with one employer, list all the job title, dates you held the job, and a job description separately

Other Optional Resume Sections

  • Certifications
  • Achievements
  • Activities
  • Associations
  • Training
  • Honors
  • Military Service
  • Relevant courses
  • Volunteer Work