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Create a Successful Resume

  • 2002 14 Aug
Create a Successful Resume
The purpose of a resume is to get an interview! Sound simple? Unfortunately, many job applicants overlook this critical point when preparing their resumes. Your resume should include the following:
  • Employment History
  • Professional Knowledge, Skills and Abilities
  • Education, as applicable
  • Specialized Training
  • Professional Affiliations, if relevant to the position you wish to obtain
  • Job Accomplishments

The information you include in your resume should accurately reflect your employment history, job skills and abilities. Highlight those aspects of your background and qualifications that specifically match the needs of the open position. While it is important to provide an overview of your work history, it is absolutely essential that you provide job-relevant information if you want to be invited to an interview. ...

Advance Prep Work

Take a minute to think about your professional accomplishments. If you have difficulty recalling professional accomplishments, try this. Focus on the specific job duties you performed for each position you previously held. Reviewing the day-to-day activities of each position should help to remind you of your work-related accomplishments.

Review your list of accomplishments and decide which two or three accomplishments are most applicable to the position for which you are applying.

In your resume, describe your accomplishments in terms of specific results that you achieved that benefited the company. For example, did you receive recognition for a job well done? Did you exceed production or sales targets? Did you go out of your way to help a co-worker? Another good resource is your performance review. If you received satisfactory or outstanding performance reviews, what did past supervisors have to say about your work? Are there assessments of your work and/or abilities that might be of interest to a prospective employer? Include those in your resume.

After you have created your list of accomplishments, assess which two or three would have the most relevance for the specific position you are applying for. If you're not sure which ones would be best to use in your resume, review the job description for clues. Job announcements are an excellent resource for determining which professional accomplishments you should highlight in your resume. List at least two or three accomplishments for each position you have held.

Use an action word when describing job responsibilities or achievements - i.e. directed, managed, initiated, created, increased, etc. ... Be sure to include the result or benefit that occurred as a direct result of your work. Be as specific and quantifiable as possible when describing your achievements. ...

Resume Do's

  • Use neutral colors for your resume paper. Recommended choices include cream, ivory, white or gray. Unless you are an artist or applying for a position in a creative field, resumes submitted in dramatic colors are out of place, and usually viewed negatively be hiring managers. Don't run the risk of being declined for an interview simply because of the color of paper you choose. Stick with the basics.


  • Always include a cover letter. An effective cover letter not only demonstrates your ability to communicate well in writing, it also gives you the opportunity to highlight additional work-related information that enhances your change of getting an interview. ...


  • Use brief phrases rather than complete sentences. ...


  • Emphasize specific results that you achieved in positions held.


  • Use present tense to describe your current job responsibilities.


  • Use past tense to describe past job responsibilities.


  • Address any employment gaps due to school, family commitments, travel, etc. Specify the period of time that you did not work, and briefly explain a good reason for your employment gap.


  • Include your name on each page of your resume.


  • Double-check your resume for spelling or grammatical errors before sending it out. Errors are viewed unfavorably by hiring managers.
Resume Don'ts
  • Don't submit a resume longer than two pages. Resumes that exceed two pages in length significantly run the risk of being eliminated from further consideration. Hiring managers and recruiters generally receive a high number of resumes of each open position. As a result, most hiring managers and recruiters will spend approximately two to four minutes scanning a resume to determine whether or not the candidate has the applicable skills and background sought for the position. If your resume is too long, you run the risk of losing the hiring manager's attention and interest. Once a resume has been preliminarily deemed to be of interest to filling the position, it is typically reviewed again in greater detail to confirm which candidates appear to offer the best match - based on the information provided in the resume - for the needs of the position. These candidates are then invited to an interview. Your task is to present your resume in a concise, easy-to-read format that quickly catches the attention of the hiring manager.


  • Don't use a font size smaller than 10 point.


  • Don't use the word "I" to describe your accomplishments or work history. Instead, begin sentences with action words. ...


  • Avoid using abbreviations, since that assumes the person reviewing your resume will be familiar with the abbreviation. Leave nothing to chance or speculation. State your information plainly and completely.


  • Do not include personal information such as marital status, number of children, or a photograph of yourself. Your resume should remain focused on professional, work-related information. Do not include the date that you graduated from high school if you have since completed college coursework that is listed on your resume.


  • Unless specifically requested, don't include job references with your resume. Bring job references with you when you are invited for an interview.

"Scannable" Resumes Large companies that receive a high volume of resumes may use an electronic scanner to process resumes. The electronic scanner searches for key words and phrases relevant to the open position. To increase your chance to have your resume successfully scanned, here are a few tips to consider:

  • Closely review the job announcement for key words that you will also want to include in your resume. Ask recruiters or industry professionals for word suggestions they recommend for inclusion in your resume.


  • Don't insert tabbed columns, italics, dashes, boldface, underlining, bullet points, or hyphens.


  • Use white paper.


  • avoid creases or folds.


Excerpted from Careers and Calling: Handbook for Women of Excellence, copyright 2002 by C.S. Belles. All rights reserved. Published by Xulon Press, Fairfax, Va., 1-866-909-BOOK.

C.S. Belles has recruited professional and executive candidates on behalf of private and public sector firms since 1988. She holds a B.S. Business Administration, Certificate in Human Resources Management, and is a member of the Christian Writers Guild. She and her husband attend Rolling Hills Community Church.

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