Lesson Plan

Write and Format Effective Résumés


In this lesson, students will consider how résumés are affected by audience and purpose. Students will:

  • brainstorm and draft a résumé for a specific purpose and audience.
  • format the résumé effectively based on the audience.

Essential Questions

  • What role does writing play in our lives?
  • To what extent does the writing process contribute to the quality of writing?


  • Résumé: An organized list of education, work, community activity, and other information an employer would receive to show a snapshot of you as a potential employee; often called curriculum vitae.
  • Objective: A one-to-two sentence statement clearly stating/describing the specific job or situation the applicant is seeking.
  • Portfolio: A collection of an applicant’s work that is portable and can showcase the most original and polished samples.
  • Reference Page: A page which provides professional contacts to vouch for or describe the applicant’s abilities. Often character/personal references are also provided.


100–120 minutes/2 class periods

Prerequisite Skills

Prerequisite Skills haven't been entered into the lesson plan.



  • “30+ Creative Resume Ideas to Present Yourself.” Lava 360, 2010.


Related Unit and Lesson Plans

Related Materials & Resources

The possible inclusion of commercial websites below is not an implied endorsement of their products, which are not free, and are not required for this lesson plan.


  • “30+ Creative Resume Ideas to Present Yourself.” Lava 360, 2010.


Formative Assessment

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    • During the discussion of purposes and formatting of a résumé, watch for confusion and give additional examples as needed about what students could put on their résumés.
    • Circulate during formatting time to identify the various comprehension levels of learners.
    • If students work in small groups to identify the impact of different résumé formats, keep student comments focused on the likely reaction by certain types of audiences versus general student personal reactions.
    • Résumés are to be turned in and assessed for correct spelling, editing, completeness of categories, visual spacing, and contact information.

Suggested Instructional Supports

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    Scaffolding, Active Engagement, Modeling, Explicit Instruction
    W: The final assessment is a portfolio to include at minimum a résumé, cover letter, and career research information. Effective writing skills such as voice and audience are reviewed because they are influential in real-world nonfiction as well as academic writing. 
    H: Offering students time to review their lives will elicit individual interest and participation in the unit. 
    E: Individual prewriting exercises and critical-thinking group analysis of samples equip all learners for success in this lesson.  
    R: The brainstorming activity encourages students to reflect on gaps in experience; be sure to provide time to brainstorm how to fill the gaps before graduating. After students have created and organized their résumés, guide reflection on the résumés created and discuss the effects. Students may choose to revise their essays after this round based on new information. 
    E: In creating a résumé and then comparing and contrasting style formats with peers, the student evaluates the effectiveness of his/her own résumé in the context of competition, based on visual appeal first. The evaluation tool offers basic guidelines in addition to peer and self-evaluations for individual critiques. Meaningful self-evaluation should occur as the evaluation tool is a prediction of what score the student will receive. 
    T: The engagement activity allows for interpersonal multiple-intelligence reflection time through the use of a graphic organizer. Small-group logical-mathematical analysis and evaluation exercises will follow. To meet individual needs, you might also differentiate with flexible student work groups and flexible deadlines. 
    O: The lesson follows a set sequence for student access: prior knowledge access, information, guided practice, comprehension check, and extension to guide students on the path to learning skills. 

Instructional Procedures

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    Focus Question: How can audience affect the drafting and formatting of a résumé?

    Part 1

    Say: “Résumés are work-related, nonfiction writing that are an expectation for almost all people as a first step to obtaining an interview for a job.”

    Hand out copies of the Résumé Brainstorming handout (L-C-6-1_Resume Brainstorming.doc). Briefly address the typical parts of a résumé listed on the handout. Have students brainstorm personal information that may fit in each category, regardless of what job they may apply for in the future. Add: “The traditional method is to list the information in each box in chronological order, starting with your most recent education and experience. Also, use active verbs in your descriptions.” If a review is needed, provide students with the Active Verbs handout (L-C-6-1_Active Verbs.doc).

    Comment: “You must not make up things to fill a category, but you can use this as an awareness tool to see how you need to get involved to create real items to put into every category for the future.” Discuss: “Why would employers like to see that you have done some community service? What would that imply about you and your values? Why would an employer like to see that you have been involved in at least one team sport or club? What skills or traits would that imply you have?” (teamwork, leadership, listening, etc.) If students question the importance of any category while filling in the handout, guide their inferential thinking regarding an employer’s needs.

    Explain: “How someone formats his/her résumé can be just as influential as the information on the page. There are even jobs where people get paid to help others format their résumé information. First impressions matter. So, when applying for a specific job, the writer should brainstorm what would be appealing to the employer (also known as your audience).”

    Discuss the choices below as to what would look more appealing to various employers such as a fast food restaurant, a business office, a fire department, etc.

    • traditional block format or a modern one (perhaps with contact information centered at the top and top skills bulleted for easy reference)
    • specific job objective or general job objective
    • a clear list of skills and responsibilities for each prior job or activity, or brief explanatory paragraphs
    • reference page and portfolio upon request or attached
    • clear, easy-to-read Times New Roman font or something nontraditional
    • correct spelling and capitalization or occasional errors
    • bullet use, italics, and underlining or multiple colors of ink

    On an overhead, or in premade photocopies, show students various layouts for a résumé. Use samples from WorkBloom.com. (They have samples in chronological, functional, and hybrid formats.) For artistic examples that are difficult to read, show students samples from “30+ Creative Resume Ideas to Present Yourself” available at http://lava360.com/inspiration/30-creative-resume-ideas-to-present-yourself. Again, discuss what type of audience might find these formats intriguing.

    After discussing the choices, direct students to type and polish their personal résumés using the Résumé Evaluation as a guide (L-C-6-1_Resume Evaluation.doc). If necessary, allow students to complete their résumés overnight and bring a copy of them to class the next period.

    Part 2

    In class, direct students to exchange résumés with a partner and also exchange copies of their Résumé Evaluations. In 10–15 minutes students are to peer evaluate the résumés and then verbally discuss the evaluations with their partner.

    As a full class, examine different ways students chose to format their résumé information on the page (both order of information and layout of information). Leave résumés on student desks and have students circulate through the room to view the documents. Do not let students condemn any. Focus the discussion on how the presentations may be perceived by different employers.

    Explain: “This résumé, along with the other products from the following two lessons, will be included in a portfolio to be used as a final assessment for the unit.” Students should be encouraged to revise and edit prior to submission for the final unit grade. The Résumé Evaluation  should be turned in after students answer the brief questions at the bottom of the page, so that you may provide feedback, but then it should go back to the student to aid in the revision process.

    Conclude the lesson by asking students these questions:

    • “Why is it important to write the résumé for a specific audience?” (The audience does the hiring so it must meet audience expectations.)
    • “What is the difference between chronological order and functional information ordering?” (Chronological is time order. Functional is by area or function.)
    • “What does using correct spelling, capitalization, and punctuation prove to an employer besides that you spell well?” (You care about details, correctness, making a good impression, etc.)


    • Students may view different résumé formats online and evaluate the impact of the formatting and quality of information phrasing. A comparison/contrast poster or Web page could be made as a useful assessment and classroom visual aide for future lessons.
    • Students could create their own résumés in both a chronological and a second, alternate format for their personal portfolios.
    • You might bring in community business leaders to talk with students and share their evaluations of students’ résumés as well as what they look for in applicants.
    • One résumé may be created to obtain a job immediately. A second résumé could involve online research for a dream career/job. Then students could evaluate which categories and education they would need to obtain such a job themselves.

Related Instructional Videos

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DRAFT 03/20/2012
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