Though a good resume may not always get you a job, a bad one will certainly keep you out of the race. Since your resume usually represents the first contact you will have with potential employers, it must be well thought-out and carefully prepared.

The main function of a resume is to get you an interview. Any good resume should be a summary of what you have already achieved through education and/or work experience and what you can contribute to your prospective employer. Never assume that the people reading your resume know anything about you; it's up to you to let them know what you have to offer.

In this part of A Guide to Writing Resumes and Cover Letters, we will look at various styles of resumes and samples of each, the best language to use and what to avoid, and some general instructions to help you create an impressive and results-getting resume.

When preparing your resume, keep these guidelines in mind: current graduates should limit resumes to one page:

Make sure your resume is well organized, balanced, and centered on the page.

Be positive and honest. Use clear, concise language and action words.

Every word must be spelled correctly.

Proper grammar is essential.

Avoid abbreviations, slang, jargon, cliches, and trite expressions.

Don't use the pronoun "I" or the third person.

Emphasize your results and accomplishments.

Use the present tense to describe what you are doing now and the past tense for what you've already done.

Let other people read and critique your resume before you do the final version.

As you will see on the following pages, resumes can follow any number of formats. But all good resumes stress accomplishments, results, and skills. Emphasizing these points and any experience related to your career objective will help you get that interview.