How to Write a Resume Based on Job Skills (for the Highly-Qualified Applicant)

by Fred Pinnegar, Resume Coach and Professional Writer

When applying for a position for which you are highly qualified by training and experience but lack job titles and work history in the specific field advertised, emphasize your job skills rather than job titles. The content and language of the advertisement will provide important information about what you should say in the resume. Discuss your qualifications in order of importance.


1. Identification. Provide complete information at the top to identify yourself. Include name, address, phone number, e-mail address, and fax number, if you have one. Symmetrically balance the information, and make your name stand out by using a slightly larger font than you use for the other major headings.

Example 1, standard centered heading

3010 South 14th Street
Kalamazoo, Michigan 49009
(613) 333-7348

Example 2, heading information balanced across top of page

John Doe
1212 Westwood Drive Phone: (213) 235-7865
Springfield, Iowa 95634
Phone: (213) 235-7865
Fax: (213) 235-6549

Example 3, heading for student with two addresses

John Doe
School Address (until 4/10)
1212 Westwood Drive Phone: (213) 235-7865
Springfield, Iowa 95634
Phone: (367) 387-9753
Permanent Address
5612 Riva Drive
Carmichael, CA 95853
Phone: (156) 286-7958

Example 4, side heading

John Doe

5612 Riva Drive
Carmichael, CA 95853
Phone: (156) 286-7958

2. Objective. Use an objective section to identify and define the position you seek. Echo the language of the job advertisement or posting.

Example 1.

Identify the position by job title.


Administrative Assistant
Customer Service Representative
Human Resources Director
Assistant Manager
Purchasing Manager
Construction Estimator
Physical Therapist
Bank Manager
Real Estate Associate
Construction Supervisor
Construction Estimator
Lab Technician
Elementary School Teacher (K-12)

Example 2.

Identify the position by the work to be performed.


To teach Spanish in a secondary school
To sell building materials and construction equipment
To manage an apartment complex
Computer programming position with a company that encourages creative thinking
Position as an accountant in a construction firm
An accounts receivable position in a local company
Position as a lab technician performing medical research
Research scientist doing work involving gene cloning
Position as a medical records technician
Tool design position

Example 3.

Identify the position by job title and type of industry


Pharmaceutical salesperson in a high-volume company
Medical equipment salesperson
Manager of a large hotel
Manager of an upscale, high-volume restaurant
Sales representative in the food or catering industry
Programmer position in educational software development
Chair side dental assistant in a large, private dental office
City planner in a small community

Example 4.

Identify the position by level or time commitment.


Entry-level position in medical equipment sales
Entry-level position in financial planning services
Entry-level position in retail management (men's clothing) with a large company
Entry-level position as a fireman
Mid-level management
Assistant director of development
Assistant manager of a large hotel
Senior-level international business development
Senior position in medical equipment sales
Director of a family medical practice
Full-time position in public relations
Part-time position in drafting
Summer position in the construction industry

3. Job Skills. Organize your work experience by emphasizing your skills and abilities rather than job titles you have held.  Itemize responsibilities, skills, duties, and achievements particularly relevant to the job objective or specifications in the job advertisement.

Budget Management
Oversaw all budget expenses for a non-profit service organization


  • Supervised and reported on the activities of my division

Public Relations

  • Organized and scheduled conferences for an organization of 200 people
  • Scheduled activities for president of organization

Working to a deadline

  • Coordinated completion of products to meet construction deadlines

Computer Proficiency
  • Operated CadKey, CADAM, Catia, MSC/Pal, and Ideas Finite Element Modeling packages

  • Interacted with a team of six engineers to resolve a comprehensive engineering problem



  • Maintained company financial records in immaculate condition.
  • Introduced computerized methods into the accounting process at Doe Corp at a time when computers were new, hated, and feared.
  • Updated accounting hardware and software as necessary to keep up with improved technology.
  • Successfully stood several IRS audits.

Administrative/Office Support

  • Worked in many different departments at First National Bank of Doe.
  • Advanced from bookkeeper to trust operations secretary for the executive vice president of the ban
  • Worked two years in the office of Dr. John Clark as a medical secretary
  • Billed insurance companies
  • Prepared correspondence
  • Performed receptionist duties
  • Transcribed and edited dictated material, including case histories, correspondence, and reports

Computer Software
Developed software that was user-friendly and effective, including:

  • presentation oriented programs,
  • word processors,
  • star maps,
  • animated and audio-oriented encyclopedias, and
  • automatic checkbooks

Construction Management

  • On-site engineer on six highway bridges while working for Smith and Wilson Company
  • Supervised the seismic retrofitting project on the San Francisco Bay Bridge following the 1989 earthquake.
  • Followed Cal-Trans specifications in close cooperation with state engineers and inspectors.

Hotel/Restaurant Management

  • Managed several large catering operations during the last fifteen years, providing food service for extremely diverse groups and tastes, including construction crews, movie extras, weddings (Jewish, Chinese, Mexican, etc.), and corporate groups.

Operations Management

  • Doubled the size of the company and radically increased its market share.
  • Overhauled the inventory system for greater efficiency, eliminated production waste
  • Negotiated an equitable contract with the Machinist Union
  • Successfully turned around several distressed companies


  • Experienced in both pharmaceutical and electronic medical equipment sales.
  • Covered entire West Coast sales territory
  • Supervised the work of 25 salespeople in the Midwest Division.

4. Education. If your education or degree is a central qualification for the position, make it the first section after the objective; otherwise, put it after the skills section. Provide information on all degrees you have earned. Identify the degree and major field, where you earned the degree, and when it was awarded. You can also list important, relevant courses you took or projects you completed.

For someone with little post-secondary education


Club Manager's Association Workshops, 1988-1998

Harrison Community College; Harrison, Michigan
Introduction to Computers, 1996

Delta Community College; Saginaw, Michigan
American History, Math, Composition; 1994

For someone with a recent undergraduate degree

Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, 2005-2009

University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky

For someone soon to receive their undergraduate degree

Bachelor of Science, University of Arizona (expected 5/2010)
Major: Business Economics

Important coursework:

Economic Price Theory
Business Policy 
Business CalculusOperations Management
AccountingPersonnel Management
Business ManagementBusiness Law
MarketingComputer Science
Small Group Decision MakingBusiness Statistics
Organizational CommunicationsPsychology

Second example

Purdue University

Bachelor of Arts in Communications; expected 4/09
Minors in Spanish and Speech Therapy

Major Courses

Interpersonal CommunicationDebate
Public SpeakingPersuasion
Oral InterpretationInterviewing
Mass CommunicationTechnical Writing

For someone with two graduate degrees


JD, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona. 1989
MBA, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana. 1986
BA, South Florida University, Miami Florida, 1983

For someone applying for an internship while going to school


George Washington University; Washington, D.C.
Junior year in Mechanical Engineering major. GPA: 3.47
Expected graduation, May 2010

Important courses:

Materials EngineeringChemistry
Technical WritingCADKEY

For someone who has attended more than one college or university

California State University, Bachelor of Science, May 2008
Major: Industrial Supervision

Utah Valley State College, Associate of Science, May 2006
Major: Aviation Maintenance Technology

For someone who is qualified by their degree plus certification

California State University, Bachelor of Science, May 2008
Major: Industrial Supervision

Utah Valley State College, Associate of Science, May 2006
Major: Aviation Maintenance Technology

Federal Airframe and Powerplant Mechanic's License, 2006

5. Work History. Briefly give job title, name and location of the company, and dates of employment.

WORK HISTORY (paid for 100% of college expenses)

  • Waitress, Sagamore Room, Kemper Memorial Union, 2008-2009
  • Salesperson, University Bookstore, Kemper University, 2007-2008
  • Waitress, Phi Mu Sorority, Kemper University, 2006
  • Waitress, Sheraton Plaza, St. Louis, Missouri, Summers 2005-2008

6. Activities. This section may include extracurricular activities during college or it can describe current activities that demonstrate your leadership, sociability, and energy level outside of the workplace. Emphasize those that are most relevant to the position you seek.


  • Provided public relations and religious instruction for my church, New England Area. Supervisory responsibility for 170 missionaries in six states (2002-2004)
  • Boy Scouts of America Troop Councilman
  • Participated in frequent church-sponsored welfare service activities
  • Spring Fling (largest student sponsored carnival in US) student volunteer
  • Arizona Dental Week, student volunteer (1982)

7. Honors. Itemize awards and achievements, including competitive scholarships based on ability rather than need.


  • Eagle Scout Award (BSA)
  • MVP in Tucson Regional Basketball Tournament
  • BPA Student Council Vice President

8. Language. List languages you know besides English (or the dominant language of the country in which you reside). Indicate your degree of proficiency (good, fair, excellent, near-native) in reading, writing, and speaking.

For a person bilingual by national circumstances


  • Bilingual education is required in Canada, and I am equally fluent in both languages.

For a person who developed skill by living abroad


  • Developed language skills through two years of residence in Peru doing voluntary religious service for my church
  • Completed upper-division coursework in Spanish at CSU
  • Fluency in reading, speaking, and writing
  • Served as a volunteer interpreter at a homeless shelter

For a person who is multilingual through education


  • Completed coursework for a major in French Literature
  • Participated in Semester Abroad, Spring 2005
  • Fluent reading, speaking, and writing


  • Completed coursework for a minor in Spanish
  • Excellent conversation and reading; good writing skills

9. Publications. List relevant titles of articles, book chapters, or books you have published. For articles, include the name of the journal in which the article appeared, as well as the volume number, date, and inclusive pages. For books, provide the publisher's name, the place of publication, and the date.

Women, Design, and The Boston School, West Asbestos, Indiana: PBA Publishers, 1980.

Plan Graphics for Experts, West Asbestos, Indiana: PBA Publishers, 1982

From Lines to Designs: Design Graphics, Chicago, Illinois: Design Publishers, 1984.

"Spacial Analysis is the First Step," Designer's Quarterly, 45 (December 1989): 56-61.

10. Professional associations. List relevant associations and the length of your membership.


  • Member, Phi Alpha Delta (1989)
  • Member, Sigma Delta Pi, Spanish Honor Society (1992)

11. Interests and Personal Information. Generally, you should include information about your personal background or traits only if it is pertinent to the job you seek.

Family activities, church service, sports, reading

12. References. You should include a reference page with your resume. A reference page is a list of contacts who know you well and who can vouch for your knowledge and skills in a particular area, your ability to work hard, or your previous work experience. Some applicants choose not to include a reference sheet with their resume and instead include a statement such as “References Available upon Request” on their resume, but doing so is discouraged. Busy hiring managers or human resource representatives may not feel like putting in the extra time and effort to contact you in order to obtain your references, so you might find yourself out of the running prematurely if you choose not to include your references with your resume.


Larry Gibson
Preventive Maintenance Supervisor, Oak Tree Professional Building
626 North 4nd Street
Kalamazoo, Michigan 49009
Phone: 672-0677

Gerry Paduk
(Former) General Manager of High Wheeler
5332 West Main
Kalamazoo, Michigan 49009
Phone: 325-2022

Danielle Widtsoe
Managing Director, ABC Asset Managers
123 East 2300 South Street
Detroit, Michigan 55551
Phone: 555-5555