Résumé Guidelines


  • Keep your target employer and job in mind.

  • Everything on your resume should be accurate, truthful and support your professional objective and job.

  • Start by documenting everything – expect to have several revisions during the process.


Describe specific responsibilities and highlight accomplishments. Do not overemphasize or embellish. Do not include extraneous or personal information. Do not include a picture of yourself. Use words from the job description advertised.  Megan Dempsey suggests “key-word dropping.”


Avoid using “I” statements, instead begin sentences or phrases with action words. Use capital letters, dashes, underlining or bullets to emphasize certain items. Use a simple font or typeface (i.e., Arial or Times New Roman).


Keep the resume to one or two pages. Use lots of white space on the page. Make your resume visually appealing and easy to read and scan.


Fancy or heavy-weight paper may still impress, but the content is more important than the material it is printed on.  Use your good judgment.


Proofread the final product for correct spelling, grammar, punctuation, and typographical errors. Have at least one other person proofread for errors you may have overlooked. Ask an additional person who is in the field that you are applying to review the resume. If possible, include an individual who is not in the profession to review your resume.  One recent graduate said,

"I had my resume and/or cover letter reviewed by my advisor, two professional librarians who were my supervisors, a round-robin resume review sponsored by a student organization, and, because I went to ALA Midwinter (affordable because I crashed with friends in the area), a volunteer at the resume review service there.  All had very valuable advice.  All noticed something that could stand to be tweaked.  I stopped asking after Midwinter because I figured one more opinion would contradict a previous one and leave me confused.

Be prepared to explain any and every part of your resume in great detail. Make sure there are no inaccuracies and do not exaggerate. If there is a clear gap in your work or education history, be prepared to answer questions about it calmly and without hesitation.

One librarian says:

“Although prior library experience and internships help applying for a first job, make the most of any related experience, e.g. retailing, teaching, etc.  For my first job as a children’s librarian I emphasized part time jobs as a reading tutor for elementary school students (while in High School) and being a camp counselor with 7 year olds (in college) as well as being a page and clerk in my college library.”

Maximize skills learned in library school through library practicum, fieldwork, internships and your portfolio. You can integrate these into your resume.

Once you have a completed resume, update it regularly by adding transferable skills, quantifiable successes and outcomes. [Transferable skills are those that can be used in various situations or contexts. These skills overlap between occupations. i.e.; time management, team player, ability to follow directions]

To maintain the format, layout and stylistic integrity of your resume convert it to a text (.txt), Adobe PDF (.pdf), and a Rich Text (.rtf) format for e-mailing to potential employers and filling in online applications.


Bernice Kao, who helps others find jobs said,

"Wear your resume in a flash stick and it won’t get wet or stolen by mistake." A student in her resume writing class was robbed and her resume was found stuck on the ground in a wet parking lot.



Sample Librarian Resume

Sample Librarian Functional Resume

Action Words to Use in Resumes




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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