What is a résumé?

A résumé is a document that is used to outline your experiences—professional, academic, extracurricular—and the skills you have acquired as a result. Think of your résumé as a kind of advertisement for yourself: a strong résumé should make the reader want to meet and interview you, just like a well-made commercial should make the viewer want to try the product advertised. Your résumé’s impact originates from both the details you choose to include and the way you write about them. A person with limited experience but strong writing skills can put together a résumé as compelling as a person who writes about their rich experiences in an ineffective way.

Is it time to write my résumé?

Yes! A résumé is a work in progress, and students who start early have the benefit of improving and refining the document over time. Students need to keep their résumé regularly updated to reflect new experiences, ensuring that an up-to-date résumé is available when needed. Students are encouraged to begin the process immediately. You never know when and where your résumé will be needed!

Is there such a thing as a “correct” résumé?

No. There is no right and wrong when it comes to résumé content and format. Each résumé is as unique as the individual it represents. It is up to you to select the appropriate content that best highlights your skills for the employment you hope to acquire, and then effectively communicate your qualifications in a format that is clear and easy to read.

Should my résumé include everything I have ever done?

Not necessarily. Note that a potential employer typically spends around 30 seconds when initially reviewing a résumé. Therefore, it is important to carefully select experiences that emphasize the skills most relevant to the desired position. As you make your choices, remember to stress quality over quantity.
If I have to pick and choose what goes on my résumé, how do I make those decisions?

First, focus on the skills and attributes you can bring to the organization. Consider the perspective of the potential employer, and what he or she would desire in the ideal candidate for the position. To assist you, make use of the position announcement, company’s website, or the books in The Career Center’s Resource Center. Next, reflect upon specific experiences from your college and employment history that demonstrate how you have gained and refined skills that will transfer to the job you desire. Finally, customize a résumé for every job application. This gives potential employers the impression that you have indeed carefully selected the most relevant experiences that portray you as the best choice.

How can The Career Center help me with my résumé?

The Career Center has helped thousands of students draft and refine their résumés. For many students, the first step in the résumé writing process is attending a résumé writing workshop during the academic year. The Career Center also offers a free résumé peer review service and had printed materials on the résumé writing process, as well as examples in our resource center.

Resume Writing Resources