Resume Advice

1. Format of Resume
2. Overall Composition
3. Content
4. Notes and Suggested Reading
Then back to how to apply

System Development Guild Inc. specializes in placing data processing personnel with clients throughout North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia. We want to present your experience in the most professional way. By suggesting a resume format which stresses an applicant's accomplishments it enhances the professionalism of both you and our company. 

A resume is an advertising document and it is important for you and us to represent your skills and experience to clients in the best possible light. The majority of resumes that we see do not do the applicant justice. They merely describe RESPONSIBILITIES rather than ACCOMPLISHMENTS. A person can be responsible for many things; it does not mean they accomplished anything!! 



If you have access to a computer we would prefer if you would write your resume in rich text (.rtf) format. The next best options are any other word processing format or ASCII text. Many clients (including ourselves) will no longer accept Word documents thanks to the recent macro viruses. 

For a sample layout see the sample resume.

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How to tighten your resume. Prospective clients will seldom want to check beyond three of your latest employers. Try and keep your resume to two pages in length, if at all possible. Consider elimination of older positions in order to keep the resume to two pages. Spend more time on your latest employment positions in terms of emphasizing all your accomplishments with less emphasis on the earlier employment positions. Do not go past the last ten years of work experience. 

The importance of white space. Do not crowd everything together in a resume. Avoid narratives that gobble up white space. Use as much space as possible. Use the bulleted approach for points you want to stand out. 

Use ‘action’ words. Use ‘action’ words, like 'developed', 'designed', 'implemented' etc. wherever possible in describing your accomplishments. Try not to use the same ‘action words’ every time. We would suggest having a copy of Roget’s Thesaurus and a Webster’s Dictionary close by. Also ensure that everything is expressed in the past tense and that everything is described in the third person. 

No typographical errors. Ensure you spell check your resume and also check it for grammatical errors, if possible. 

Suggested font size.  We recommend that the resume be prepared in ARIAL typeface with a minimum font size of 12. This makes it more readable if it faxed to a client. Use size 14 for section headings and size 18 for your name. 

Recommendations. You may want to prepare a ‘master’ copy of your resume on disk, initially, with as much detail as possible with regard to skills used and each work experience. From the ‘master’ copy you can then develop a more ‘marketing oriented’ resume detailing your Major Accomplishments in a ‘bulleted’ fashion for ease of readability by prospective clients. 

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Along with the sample resume created in the System Development Guild Inc.’s format please read these notes before completing your resume. 


Please ensure that your name and full mailing address is given, not just a P.O. Box number. Also we need to have as many ways as possible to reach you. If you have a fax number, cellular phone number or pager number, CompuServe address and/or e-mail please include these details in this section. We will not contact you at work without your permission and we will use discretion at all times. 


The Summary section is intended for you to briefly summarize your total experience in the data processing industry having regard to skills you specialize in. Please use the ‘third person’ when describing your experience and keep this section to two or three sentences in length. It's probably a good idea to complete this section last of all. You should target the SUMMARY to a specific job requirement when known 

Technical Skills

It would be preferable to leave this section until you have completed the Professional Experience section. In this section you will rate yourself on your level of competence in a particular skill. The skill should be related to the main body of your resume i.e. shown in the Professional Experience section. It will be very difficult to promote you to clients as someone who is knowledgeable about that particular skill unless the client can clearly see you have experience in that skill. That said we recognize that you may be familiar with skills not from any work experience so don't leave out any skills but ensure they are given the correct level of expertise that you have obtained. see sample resume for format. 

In this section do not be overly concerned about which skill goes in which section. More importantly try and ensure that you give yourself the appropriate credit in terms of what level you feel you have achieved in a particular skill. If necessary by all means include extra headings such as Databases, AI etc., if you would prefer to be more precise about which skill goes where. A note regarding Extensive versus Moderate experience in the skills section. Please make your own best judgment with regard to whether you have extensive experience or moderate experience but be prepared to back it up at an interview to prove that you do indeed understand the skill to the degree you have specified on the resume. 


Please give the name of the employer, together with city state/province and dates for when you started and left this company. If you are self-employed this will obviously be the name of your company or simply state self-employed. 

Administrative title:
For each different position you held with that company simply state your Administrative title together with the dates you held that appointment. If you only had the one title with that employer then the dates beside the administrative title are obviously redundant. If you held any managerial positions put those under a heading of Management. 

If you are or were a self-employed consultant then for whatever period you were doing contract work you will give your company name and then, underneath, the Administrative title you wish to give yourself i.e. Consultant or Senior Consultant. Self-employed Consultants will then give dates beside the Administrative title for the length of the assignment with that client. 

Add a brief description of your group, its mission, number of people in the group and your general and personal responsibilities. For self-employed consultants you will generically give details of the client for which this assignment was completed 

e.g. For a  large telecommunications company based in Vancouver, B.C. etc. and continue as per the description of the group etc. This is about the only part of the resume with the possible exception of the Summary section where you will mention the word responsible. 

Major Accomplishments: 
Under the heading Major Accomplishments as shown in the sample resume use a ‘bulleted’ format to inform the reader of your Major Accomplishments while you were with this employer or client. e.g. don't say you were responsible for writing software for controlling a robot; say something like: 

The important point with regard to putting down your accomplishments is not so much about how many lines of code you wrote but what were your significant accomplishments and more importantly what benefits were they to the employer. As has been pointed out to us the essence of Smalltalk is to write as few lines of code as possible so emphasizing the quantity of code written in Smalltalk is not necessarily an accomplishment. 

Merely listing that you were responsible for a particular project etc. does not indicate how successful the project was or the value to the client. With most employers you will want to really bring out all your major accomplishments, whereas, with employers who you worked for, say over two years ago, unless they have a particular bearing on the present you will not detail those accomplishments to such an extent. 

If you are unsure as how to proceed with the Major Accomplishments simply remember this mnemonic FAB (Features/Accomplishments, Benefits). Beneath a column entitled ‘Features’ you fill in the factual characteristics, attributes or skills. Next to that is the ‘Benefits’ column which lists the value to the employer. The last column ‘Accomplishments’ is a supportive statement based upon what value this particular accomplishment gave to the employer. 

Adopt this approach for each company or assignment you worked/completed bearing in mind that more emphasis in terms of accomplishments should be placed on your later employers. You may want to prepare a master copy of the resume first of all with as much detail as possible written down and then go through this master copy to succinctly bring out all your major accomplishments with a particular employer. As previously mentioned spend more time doing this for your last three or four employers than the earlier ones and do not go past the last ten years of work experience unless your earlier positions have some strong bearing on your prospective desired employment. 

Environment: Beside this heading list all the hardware/software you used at this location including languages, methodologies, tools and databases. This you will relate back to the Technical Skills section so that the prospective employer can see where and how long you were using a particular skill. Also they will want to know when you last used a particular skill. 


Here you will list, as shown in the sample resume, your educational achievements starting with your most recent educational achievement and going back from there. The year shown in the sample resume for Education refers to the year you graduated. Do not include High School details unless you did not attend university or you wish to bring to the attention of the prospective employer some significant achievements while you were at High School. 

Include commercial training courses. List title of course, who gave course and date. 


List membership of any professional organizations.


List publications. 
If space allows under the above heading list languages which you are fluent in. 
List Hobbies and outside interests. (see sample resume.)

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At the top of each page after the first first page put your full name and the page number. Please review your completed resume for spelling and grammatical errors and ensure that you have included all your accomplishments. This resume is meant to reflect your career to  date and you as a person. Please ensure that you give this important document the time and professionalism you have no doubt given throughout your career. 

Along with resume we would like you to also send/fax us the Technology Skills sheet, duly completed. Please complete the form as fully as possible. If you want to include a cover letter with your resume outlining acceptable work locations and the environment you would most prefer to work in then so much the better. Finally thanks very much for taking the time to read these notes and we look forward to receiving your resume very shortly. 



‘What Color is your Parachute’ - author: Richard Bolles - Publisher: Ten Speed Press - ISBN: 
‘Power Resumes’ - author: Ron Tepper - Publisher: Wiley & Sons -ISBN: 0-471-55186-4 
‘The Perfect Cover Letter’ - author: Ron Tepper - Publisher: Wiley & Sons - ISBN: 


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