Résumé Basics

General Tips

Your resume is often the introduction a future employer has to you. It is a sales brochure that encompasses what you have done in the past and implies what you can do for a potential employer in the future.

The primary purpose of a resume is to sell you to potential employers in your target market.

As with any sales pitch, your resume should not tell everything about you, but rather give a brief summary of what you’ve accomplished. Your resume should be short, (no more than two pages) and easy to read.

Parts of a Resume

All resumes should consist of certain pertinent information:

  • Heading – List your name, address, telephone number(s) and e-mail address. [Your e-mail address should be professional, i.e., first and last name, no nicknames, and do not use the e-mail address given to you by your current employer. You can obtain a free email address through Gmail, Yahoo! and several other sites]

  • Professional Objective –This is a statement of what you want to do [optional – but if you use it, be sure that it is meaningful]. One librarian advises not to be so specific that you are merely restating the job title.

  • Summary Statement – This is a succinct summary statement that reflects your professional skills. It embodies the detailed information outlined in the resume. [optional]

  • Employment History – There are at least two formats commonly used, but be sure you have a list of the company names, years employed and job titles held for all of your jobs, even if they are not all included. Take time to write a summary of your responsibilities. This information can be taken from your job description. It is important to document your accomplishments (quantitatively or qualitatively) that occurred while you occupied the position. One source of this information may be performance reviews.

  • Education – List your educational background in reverse chronological order, outlining your highest degree earned first. You may include dates of completion. One librarian says,

    "If you have more (library) work experience than education, put your work experience first on your resume, even if it’s at the support staff level – your potential employers will be very interested to see library experience. Experience in related or helpful fields such as customer service, teaching, etc. is also good to emphasize. If your degree is your greatest strength, though, put your education up front."
  • Professional Development and Training – List any additional training, certificates, writing, presenting, and/or professional development relevant to your job objective.

  • Memberships – List relevant memberships and offices held in professional associations, boards and community activities that are relevant to your job objective or the job. You can list them if you are a member, but be sure to include any offices you hold or committees you have worked on.

  • Other Headings – List languages, certifications, technical skills, licenses if they support your objective or the job.


Posted 4/14/11. Originally written for the American Library Association's Get A Job site, 2009.

This page is maintained by the ALA Office for Human Resource Development and Recruitment (HRDR).

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