Please review this information thoroughly and prepare your resume draft before bringing your resume to be reviewed by a career counselor.
Start with a blank Word document – NEVER use a template!
The resume should be a brief but informative summary of your education, employment or volunteer experience, and any specialized skills. The layout should be attractive and easy to read or scan. It should generate the kinds of questions you want to answer during an interview.
Chronological: The most accepted format, it lists education history and work experience in reverse chronological order, i.e., with the most recent items first. This format is best for most candidates, especially those entering the job market or changing jobs within a career field. Career Services recommends the chronological format, since it is more straightforward.
Functional: This format organizes your experience into skill areas, regardless of the specific job in which the skill was demonstrated. Employment history is then briefly summarized in reverse chronological order. Functional resumes are occasionally helpful for candidates with complex work histories or for those who are changing careers or re-entering the job market. Most employers regard functional resumes as hard to decipher, and they suspect the writer is hiding or exaggerating things.
How long your resume should be.
Most recent graduates should confine their resumes to one page. If your resume goes to a second page, make sure your margins are not too wide (no more than 1” left and right and as little as ½” top and bottom). If the headings are on the left, stack the words. If your resume runs over a little bit, don’t worry – a counselor will be able to help you reduce it to one page without losing anything important.
1. Name: Start with your NAME (we suggest upper case bold for name only), and complete contact information (address, phone and email address).
Never write “RESUME” or “CV” as heading
2. Certifications: List professional certifications or licenses with dates received.
3. Education: Summarize your education in reverse order, starting with your last degree or the one you are working on now. Include school name, city, state, degree, major, date degree was - or will be - conferred and honors. Include GPA only if 3.0 or higher.
4. Courses: To tailor your resume to a specific job, you may include a list of “relevant courses.” This also fills space if you have little experience.
5. Honors/Awards/Activities: Use one or more categories as appropriate, highlighting achievements such as scholarships, Dean’s List, leadership roles in clubs, campus/community organizations, sports or other accomplishments.
6. Research: If applicable, you may include special projects or research, highlighting significant relevant classroom learning experiences such as research projects, independent study, special presentations, major papers.
7. Experience: Your experience, regardless of how you acquired it (full time or part time jobs, internships, community or college service) is usually of chief interest to the reader. For each position, include: Job Title (followed by dates of employment), Employer, City, State. Emphasize (put first) either employers or job titles, but be consistent! Describe responsibilities, duties and accomplishments, preferably using list format with bullets.
8. Skills: Of great interest to employers! Indicate computer hardware and software knowledge, fluency in foreign languages, or other technical skills. If you have several of each, use separate categories.
9. Interests: List interests only if you are really knowledgeable about something or very good at it.
10. Affiliations: List professional or volunteer affiliations/memberships (if applicable). Include any offices held.
How to name the sections.
The headings on your resume function like headlines in the newspaper. They can show the reader where certain information is located, give a summary of content, and catch the reader’s interest. If you glance at a resume with a section heading Honors and Awards, you will reasonably assume this candidate has received honors and awards and that may motivate you to read this resume. Since almost every employer wants people with computer skills, some may scan a pile of resumes for those with Computer Skills in bold headline type.
The exact heading you choose is important and allows you to tailor your resume and place the most important experiences first. If you have worked in your field, name the field in your heading (e.g., Social Work Experience, or Marketing Experience). Work in related fields can be headed Related Experience. If the work is not related to your objective but you want to include it, call it Other Experience or use the name of the field. Fieldwork, Volunteer Activities, Summer Employment, or Internships are other possible headings. If you include only some of your jobs, you can call it Selected Experience. Select and order the major categories so that the most relevant information is placed early on the resume (top 2/3 of the first page).
How to make your resume look professional.
Include no personal information: age, health, marital status, height, weight, religion.
Never use the first person "I.” Do not use full sentences. Eliminate all unnecessary words (a, the). Never lie or exaggerate.
Add to the eye appeal of your resume by varying the typeface for emphasis: bold, underline, italic, UPPER CASE, etc. (Use italics for emphasis only - perhaps your job title - never for the entire resume.) Use an attractive legible typeface such as Times or Arial, not an old-fashioned font such as Courier.
Use "bullets" (•, ♦, *, −) for listing items under a heading description, such as experience.
Proofread carefully. Grammatical, content and typographical errors may eliminate you immediately from consideration for an interview. Ask others to proofread the resume as well.
The successful resume is one that results in interviews. Does yours present you as an accomplished person? Is it easy to read, pleasing to the eye, devoid of all errors, current, honest?
Need of an objective.
Most recent graduates don’t need one. Include an objective only if it is very specific, unique, or necessary to clarify your job target. The objective is already clear with certifications (e.g., teachers) or majors (e.g., nursing). Some candidates may want to tailor the job objective for a specific job application. Be sure your objective addresses what you can do for the employer, not what the employer can do for you. Most employers do not care that you want a “challenging” position or one that “provides career growth.” They do care about additional skills or experience beyond the basic qualifications. Remember that your job target will be addressed very specifically in your cover letter. Candidates with several years of professional experience and skills related to the job may prefer to use a Summary or Profile in place of an objective.
The most important feature of a successful resume.
Most applicants for a particular job often have similar degrees and work histories. People who get interviews are perhaps those who convey on their resumes that they have personally done many of the things that need to be done, and have demonstrated the needed skills. Claiming that you have a skill is not as convincing as demonstrating how you have used the skill. Here are some pointers:
⇒ Use action verbs to describe your duties and accomplishments, depicting yourself as someone who gets the job done: one who "created . . . published . . . solved" – not one who merely "participated in" or was
"responsible for." Avoid using “assisted” – say what you did. Vary the vocabulary. (See list of action verbs on page 6 of this guide.) For present jobs, use present tense verbs and for past jobs, use past tense.
⇒ Emphasize skills and experience related to the job you want and to the employer’s needs.
⇒ When describing your experience, use detailed descriptions that give the reader a picture of you as an individual (“Adapted lesson on dinosaurs to learning styles of autistic children”) rather than vague descriptions that make you sound like everyone else (“Followed the curriculum of cooperating teacher”).
⇒ Avoid self-serving and subjective descriptions. Do include occupation-specific words related to the job, especially if resume will be scanned for an electronic resume bank.
⇒ Quantify accomplishments by citing numbers, dollars, percentages, etc., where appropriate.
⇒ Put the most related and impressive accomplishments first within each job description.
What if a resume is scanned by a computer.
An increasing number of employers now scan resumes into their databases so they can search for candidates with the right skills and experience. For resumes that may be scanned by computers, do not use hollow bullets, columns, italics, borders, shading or underlining. Use standard fonts, plain white paper and laser printers. Be sure to use key words related to the field. To maximize “hits” (i.e., matches of your resume to job vacancies) in cases where the employer scans all resumes, we suggest that you describe your experience in very concrete, rather than vague, terms; be concise; use more than one page if needed; use terms and acronyms specific to your field (but spell out acronyms too); be specific with software and programs.
Got a minute to look over my resume?
After you complete your resume according to guidelines in this Resume Guide, you may make an appointment with a counselor for a review.
What’s the difference between a resume and a curriculum vitae?
A curriculum vitae (often called a ‘CV’) is a special type of resume traditionally used within the academic community, and sometimes in the medical and legal communities. It is useful not only for a job search, but also for tenure review, grant applications, fellowships or consulting. Academic hiring is frequently a long process done by a committee. Thus, the CV may be reviewed by many individuals.
The CV need not be confined to one page, like the typical business resume, nor does it have to be any longer than necessary to highlight your strengths and achievements. It generally includes degrees, teaching and research experience, publications, presentations and related activities. When applying for positions outside of academia, a resume will represent you better than a CV. The details of your teaching and research will probably be of less interest to the reader. Converting your CV to a resume will usually require major revisions.
Like your resume, your CV is a work in progress. Instead of merely keeping your CV current, you should delete items that no longer relate to your objective, create new categories to show your achievements, and reorganize sections to emphasize strengths related to the job you seek.
It is no longer necessary to state on the bottom of one’s resume that “References are available upon request” since it is understood that employers will ask for references if they are interested in you, whether or not you state this. Use the limited space on your resume to provide essential information. Job seekers should, however, prepare a typed list of references like the one below:
PHONE / EMAIL REFERENCES: Many employers want to be able to check your references by phone and, increasingly these days, by email. Ask three or four people who know your work – professors, supervisors, officials, coaches, advisors, etc. Include their full name, their title, organization, address, phone numbers and email addresses.
Always get permission from these individuals before putting them on the list and prepare them for potential calls from employers. (Send them a thank-you letter for being a reference, update them on how your job search is progressing and enclose a resume.)
WRITTEN REFERENCES: In addition to asking for permission to list someone as a professional reference, you may ask for a written recommendation letter from the individual.
When you are asked for references, you can use the list and/or any letters you believe are relevant. Offer them at an interview or - IF references are requested in the job posting - you may include them with your resume. This is what we mean by References furnished upon request. As mentioned, including this phrase on your resume is not necessary and, since space is at a premium, you can use that space for something much more informative.
A cover letter is really a form of business letter. Each resume you mail, email or fax must be accompanied by a well-written cover letter. When responding to posted vacancies, each cover letter should show how your background meets the employer's needs (as stated in their job description), as well as why you want to work for that organization, in that position or with that situation. When sending a resume to an organization for which you have not seen posted vacancies, write a letter of inquiry, in which you ask about current or potential vacancies, state why you are interested and what makes you a good candidate.