University of Pittsburgh

Career Services Job Searching Guide: What is a Resume?

A resume is brief, organized statement of your skills, abilities, and previous accomplishments as they relate to the position you are seeking. It is more a snapshot than a movie, more a poem than a novel. It is not an exhaustive listing of everything you have done and had done to you. It should give the employer a concise yet realistic, honest and positive impression. After reviewing your resume, the employer should want to meet you. Resumes are also used as a guide during interviews, and to refresh the interviewer's memory as to your qualifications after you are gone.

Why should your resume be brief? Employers sort through resumes to identify those applicants who are generally appropriate or inappropriate for the position. Generally, a recruiter will spend only 30 seconds reviewing a resume. If you can't capture his/her interest in seconds, you will be rejected before being interviewed. How brief? A good rule-of-thumb is one page for every ten years of experience, although you should use your common sense if you've accomplished a great deal in a brief period of time.

Do not include anything in your resume that could automatically eliminate you from consideration. You want to make the first cut, and be selected for an interview. What kind of information can disqualify you? Personal information which is not job-related such as marital status or religious affiliation, to name just two, could have a substantial negative impact on the reviewer, on a conscious or subconscious level. Remember, you want to keep the focus on your credentials for the job, so avoid inclusion of information that distracts the reader.

Back to Resumes

Revised 09/28/2011 | Copyright 2011 | Site by UMC