A man holds up several Career Center worksheets, including sample resumes.

Purpose of Your Resume

Your resume is a document that outlines your experiences—professional, academic, extracurricular —and the skills you have acquired as a result.

The impact of your resume depends both on the skills you choose to include and the way you match those skills to the position description. A person with limited experience, but strong writing skills can put together a compelling resume.

Be sure to think of your resume as an advertisement for yourself, i.e. a strong resume should demonstrate your excellent written communication skills and make the reader want to interview you.  

Tips for Writing Your Resume

Convey your overall competence through content. 

  • Be attentive to detail. Proofread carefully to ensure correct spelling and grammar. 

Avoid the use of first and third person pronouns, such as “I,” “he,” or “she.” 

  • Keep verb tenses consistent throughout. Use present tense for current activities and employment. 
  • Use past tense for activities and employment not presently held.

Use action verbs and concise statements to articulate your relevant experiences

  • Phrases, rather than complete sentences, are generally most effective. 
  • Use a variety of action verbs to bring your skills and experiences to life. 
  • Avoid using each verb or adjective more than once. 

Refrain from using slang, jargon, overused expressions, or anything that might confuse the reader. 

  • Spell out all acronyms the first time they are used, followed by the acronym in parentheses. 
  • Thereafter, in the same document you may use the acronym alone.

Print your resume on paper of good quality. 

  • While it is not necessary to purchase special paper, if you choose to do so, use neutral colors such as white or cream.
  • If you are including a cover letter, it should be printed on the same type of paper as your resume.

Get your resume reviewed. 

  • Have your resume reviewed multiple times. This gives you varied insights and multiple perspectives. The Career Center provides opportunities to have your resume reviewed.  
  • Faculty, academic advisors, family and friends can also provide good insight.

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Formatting Your Resume

Distribute the content evenly on the page. 

  • Take advantage of white space. Use it as a mechanism to appropriately convey emphasis and organization to your information and skills. 
  • Be consistent with alignment and appropriately use left, center, and right alignment.
  • Make use of bold, underline, and italics to emphasize different aspects of your resume, such as headings and titles. 

One-page, conventional resumes are typically most appropriate. 

  • The length of your resume depends on your degree level, academic major, and number of relevant experience you have conducted.   
  • Rather than being creative in the design and format of your resume, demonstrate your creativity in the content you choose.

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Considering Your Audience & Reader

When writing a resume, be sure to keep your audience and reader in mind. Information should be clearly communicated, consistent, and relevant so the reader can quickly identify your unique strengths and skills.

Do your homework. 

  • Investigate each potential employer and consider preferences for length, format, and content of your resume. 
  • Be sure to follow special instructions for supplemental application materials. Provide all documents requested, and determine if appropriate to send additional, e.g. reference list.
  • If possible, save all of your documents in one PDF and attach them to your application.

Customize your resume for each application. 

  • Employers initially scan a resume in 30 seconds before deciding if they want to learn more about you. 
  • Review the job description and consider the responsibilities for each position you apply to. Make changes to your resume accordingly. 

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