How to Compose a Succinct Resume

by | Dec 1, 2020 | MY JOB Gen Z

Highlights from Chapter 4 in our forthcoming book.

Even though, during the COVID pandemic, you may never take the bus or train across town with a paper resume in hand for a job interview, you still need that winning resume. It could your first chance to be “seen” by an employer, and you don’t want it to be the last! Check out these ideas for what to include to show ALL your strengths, how to format correctly, and how to keep it brief enough that your next boss’s eyes won’t glaze over it.


Stay tuned for creating your best LinkedIn profile, composing an attention-getting cover letter, preparing for an interview, and more.


Composing a Winning Resume


Whether you’re simply networking or actually applying for a job or internship, a polished resume can distinguish you from other candidates.


Skills and Brevity Count


  1. Tailor your resume to each type of position.
  2. Employers are interested in your skills, regardless of how you utilized them.
  3. You do not need to focus only on paid experiences. Unpaid internships, activities and volunteer positions can often provide you the opportunity to highlight as much, or more, experience than paid work.
  4. Employers decide in just a few seconds whether or not a resume is of interest. Front-load your resume, putting your most relevant experience in the top third of the page.


Use Action Verbs


Start off each line of your resume with an action verb. Actions verbs specify what you know and what you do. Select verbs that precisely identify the relevant skills or experiences you have that match a particular employer’s needs.


Sections to Include in Your Resume


  1. Contact: Name, address, phone, email and LinkedIn URL, if applicable.
  2. Education: As an undergraduate or recent graduate, this is always your first section. Include your college as well as any other higher education experience (internships, study abroad, significant study away in the U.S.).
  3. Experience: List/describe experiences most pertinent to the skills needed in a particular position. This includes work you’ve done as a volunteer, and sometimes even what you’ve done to assist your home and family.
  4. Additional skills/interests: Include foreign languages, computer skills, sports, and fine/performing arts. Do not include a long form, objective statement or photograph.


What to List Under “Experience”


  1. Within each experience section, list the name of the organization, location (mainly city/state, but if outside the U.S. include the country), your title, and the dates (in months and years) that you performed the work.
  2. Use action verbs to describe your duties. Rather than saying “responsibilities included organizing” you’ll want to say “organized.”
  3. Use bullet points to list information. When writing bullet points, strive to include details about challenges you addressed, actions you took, and results. Include numbers whenever possible. Some students use the APR structure (Action, Process, Results) to draft bullet points.
  4. Wherever possible, use keywords from the job or internship posting in your description of your experiences. Some employers use Applicant Tracking Systems to seek out these keywords.
  5. Use present tense for ongoing activities, past tense for prior experiences.


Best Practices for Formatting

  1. Keep it to one page: Use white space to make the resume easy to read.
  2. Use a common font: Between 10-12 points in size (except for your name, which should be bigger). Times New Roman, Garamond, Arial, and Verdana are all acceptable.
  3. Format consistently: For instance, if you list your title first in one entry in a section, do it the same way for the rest of the listings in that section. Use consistent formatting across sections to the extent that is practicable.
  4. Reverse chronology: For items within each section, place your most recent experience first.


Use the Right Keywords in Your Resume


Have you ever heard of applicant tracking systems? It’s when a company uses a computer program to filter through applications and resumes, weeding out the candidates who aren’t a fit — simply because they didn’t use the right words.

That’s right: your resume could be chucked in the proverbial trashcan before it ever reaches a human’s eyes, all because you didn’t use a word the system was searching for.

How do you know which words to use? A good place to start is the job descriptionRead more here.

[1] Slack, Mark. “7 Cover Letter Mistakes Entry-Level Candidates Make—and How to Fix Them Now.” The Muse, 2019.


Cover image used with permission from and gratitude for cytonn-photography-l3MMvRYdPhc-unsplash.jpg of Unsplash. 


This post comes to you as a portion of the book:

MY JOB Gen Z: Finding Your Place in a Fast-Changing World

(c) 2021 by Suzanne Skees and Sanam Yusuf

An open-source, narrative nonfiction book full of true stories of jobs along with best practices for how to make your dream-job come true.


Note from the authors:

Join us each Tuesday and Friday as we release highlights from our new book, that will be FREE to our community members.

Share with your friends and followers; it’s FREE, open-source, and available to everyone.

No one makes a penny on this book project, which is intended to inspire and empower Gen Zers to launch their careers and land their dream jobs. Suzanne and Sanam have volunteered their time, and we’ve chosen this platform to transmit our book so that YOU don’t have to pay for publication costs.

However, if you feel inspired to help someone in poverty to have access to dignified work, jump here to donate directly to the nonprofit job-creation program of your choice–all vetted and supported by Skees Family Foundation.

Thanks for being with us! We’re excited to share our book with you.

–Suzanne & Sanam

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Suzanne Skees, author of the three-volume MY JOB series on real people in remarkable jobs, believes in the power of our jobs over our identity and wellbeing and, conversely, our ability to change our world with the work of our minds and hands. She lives by the Pacific Ocean and spends as much time as possible listening to the surf, and to silence.



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