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Finding a Job for ESL Learners - Part 2: Writing Your Resume

By Kenneth Beare, Guide

The Resume

Writing a successful resume depends on many factors. Here is a simple guide to the basics of writing a good resume:

  1. Take detailed notes on your work experience. Include both paid and unpaid, full time and part time positions. Include your main responsibilities, any other activities that were part of the job, the job title and company information including the address and dates of employment. Include everything!
  2. Take detailed notes on your education. Include degree or certificates, major or course emphasis, school names and courses relevant to career objectives. Remember to include any important continuing education courses you may have completed.
  3. Include a list of other non-work related accomplishments. These may include competitions won, membership in special organizations, etc.
  4. Based on your detailed notes, decide which skills are transferable (skills that will be especially useful) to the position for which you are applying.
  5. Write your full name, address, telephone number, fax and email at the top of the resume.
  6. Include an objective for the resume. The objective is a short sentence describing what type of work you hope to obtain.
  7. Summarize your education, including important facts that directly relate to the job for which you are applying. You can also choose to include the education section after you have listed your job employment history.
  8. List your work experience beginning with your most recent job. Include dates of employment, company specifics. List your principal responsibilities making sure to focus on transferable skills.
  9. Continue to list all of your work experience in reverse order. Always focus on skills that are transferable.
  10. Finally list information skills such as languages spoken, computer programming knowledge etc. under the heading: Additional Skills
  11. Finish your resume with the following phrase: REFERENCES Available upon request


  1. Be concise and short! Your finished resume should not be more than page.
  2. Use dynamic action verbs such as: accomplished, collaborated, encouraged, established, facilitated, founded, managed, etc.
  3. Do NOT use the subject "I", use tenses in the past. Except for your present job. Example: Conducted routine inspections of on site equipment.

Here is an example of a basic resume:

Peter Townsled
35 Green Road
Spokane, WA 87954
Phone  (503) 456 - 6781      
Fax (503) 456 - 6782
E-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Personal Information

Marital status: Married
Nationality: US


Employment as manager in important clothing retailer. Special interest in developing computer time-management tools for in-house use.

Work experience

1998 - Present / Jackson Shoes Inc. / Spokane, WA


  • Manage staff of 10
  • Provide helpful service to customers concerning shoe choices
  • Design and implement computer based tools using Microsoft Access and Excel for staff
  • Monthly bookkeeping
  • Suggest changes in product offerings on a quarterly basis based on detailed analysis of sales patterns
  • Provide in-house training for new employees as needed

1995 - 1998 / Smith Office Supplies / Yakima, WA
Assistant Manager


  • Managed warehouse operations
  • Programmed Excel spreadsheet implemented to control sales strengths and weaknesses on quarterly basis
  • Interviewed new applicants for open positions
  • Travelled locally offering on-site visits to regular customers
  • Supervised bookkeeping staff


1991 - 1995 / Seattle University / Seattle, WA
Bachelor of Business Administration

  • Four year business administration course focusing and retail work environments

Professional memberships

  • Rotary Club Member, Spokane WA
  • Young Business Administration Club President 1993-1995, Seattle, WA

Additional Skills

Advanced level skills in Microsoft Office Suite, basic HTML programming, spoken and written proficiency in French

REFERENCES Available upon request