The resume is often the first thing that an employer will use to evaluate you. It is extremely important that it is an effective “advertisement” of your skills, knowledge, and experience. The resume is a critical item in determining whether or not you will receive an interview. Thus, it should be a flawless, well thought out, and effective sales tool for your job search.
How to: Write a Winning Resume
- Identify skills and abilities.
- What are your 3 greatest strengths?
- How do you know you have these attributes?
- Where have you proven this?
- Explore a variety of careers to determine the requirements of the occupations you are seeking.
- What skills are they looking for?
- How does this fit with your own skills and abilities?
- Make a list of the experiences you have been involved in: jobs, volunteer work, activities, leadership roles, awards etc.
- Easy to read, typed (quality print) and spaced neatly.
- A logical presentation of relevant information.
- "Marketable" according to the skills and qualifications your potential employer is seeking.
- Well organized and consistent with format and headings.
- Concise, but not at the expense of accuracy or completeness. A typical resume is one page in length but this depends on your particular background.
- There are many styles and formats... Choose one that is unique to you!
- Use reverse chronological order in each of your categories (most recent to least recent). Use margins and titles... to guide the readers and inform them of skills and attributes.
- Use bold facing, underlining, capitalization, and/or italics... to highlight important items.
- Develop separate sections - education, work experience, activities etc.
- The order of categories should be more important to least important... Objective (if you choose to include one) and Education will be your first two.
- The amount of space that you provide for an item indicates the importance of that item.
- Use phrases... to describe rather than full sentences. A resume is a first person document so you do not need to use personal pronouns.
- Take the list you created in the assessment stage and begin to develop separate sections - Activities, Volunteer Experience, Leadership Experience, etc.
- Use 10-12 pt. font (you can use a larger font size for your name) set your top, bottom, and side margins between ½” – 1”. This maximizes the amount of information that can be include on a page and still have an easily readable and professional looking document.
- Do not be concerned about length for the first draft. For most undergraduates, one page is the most common length due to lack of experiences. Individuals with added experience/degrees may need a two-page resume to present their relevant experiences adequately. Resume length may also vary by career field. If you have questions about the length of your resume please consult with a career counselor.
- Once you complete your list begin to format your resume and describe your experiences. Remember, descriptions, order and categories depend on your experiences and goal. You do not need to use the exact headings we provide - be creative and make it personalized!
- Your name - make it stand out
- Full Addresses, include zip code and correct state abbreviations.
- If you have 2 addresses put your school address in the upper left corner and permanent address in the upper right hand corner.
- Phone Number, including area code, and email address (preferably conservative).
- Not all resumes have an objective; if you are unsure of what you want you can consider leaving it off. If your major is different from your career objective, this section can allow you to clarify. Also, if you are interested in a summer position this can also help your resume from falling into the wrong pile!
- Short and to the point is best. Seek a balance between you and the position/organization, and between general and specific. If it is too general it is unnecessary, if it is too specific you may be limiting opportunities.
- Specify the position you desire and skills you possess.
- Consider making a different objective for each position you are applying for, making it focused on that particular position.
- Use reverse chronological order. VU and then high school if you choose.
- List name, location of school, degree(s), date of graduation, minor(s) and concentration(s).
- If you choose, list overall GPA/major GPA, class rank, academic honors/scholarships, projects, thesis, research, seminars, pertinent coursework, and/or certificates.
- Whether or not to list a GPA is a personal decision with pros and cons each way - Generally, if it is a 2.8 or higher you can list it or if you feel it is a positive reflection of your potential. Be aware that some employers will expect to see your G.P.A.
- Be sure to include schools where you have studied abroad or other colleges you may have attended
You may wish to include academic projects/papers on your resume to highlight class experiences and knowledge that may be relevant to an employer.
- Use reverse chronological order.
- Include name and location of organization, title and dates of employment.
- Utilizing action statements describe your position (See functional verb chart).
- Employment and other categories can be broken down into more specific categories such as RELATED EXPERIENCE and OTHER EXPERIENCE. This allows you to list the most relevant experiences together.
- Give specific details of your accomplishments, skills developed, and responsibilities rather than a general list of duties. Quantify your accomplishments; use numbers in percentage (%) or dollar ($) form to show increases in sales, productivity, customer satisfaction, etc.
- List activities in order of importance. Highlight leadership/responsibilities. List college, community, professional, and occasionally, relevant high school activities.
- May use descriptions of activity, leadership role, and accomplishments, particularly if applicable to career goals.
- Use other headings to more specifically discuss your experiences (i.e. Volunteer Work, Athletics, Related Activities, etc.).
You may divide your activities into volunteer Experience & Leadership Experience categories.
Descriptions are not necessary for everything on your resume - just the ones you would like to highlight or you feel focus on a particular skill you would like to sell.
Optional. Include this section only if you have several honors/awards. If you only have one or two honors, you can include them in a combined “Activities/Honors” section or in “Education” if they are education related.
You may want to consider adding a skills section to highlight computer hardware and software skills, foreign languages, or certifications.
- Your Final resume should be free of errors! Proofread your resume several times and have it checked by a career counselor. One error on your resume will leave a poor first impression with an employer and could cost you an interview!
- Print out resumes on a laser printer. Every resume should be an original (do not make copies)!
- Buy resume paper at the bookstore or office supply store, with extra paper for extra copies and cover letters. Be cautious with strange fonts and graphics, because often they may not convert well if sending your resume electronically.
- When emailing a resume, email as an attachment unless instructed to do otherwise.
- Have several versions of your resume if you have varied career goals. Each version can then be targeted toward a particular goal.
- Do not have someone else write your resume for you! You will be asked to discuss it in detail at an interview!
- Seek the advice of others: Career Center Staff, professors, professionals, or parents. Remember, final decisions are yours!
- Help is available from the Career Center through Career Counseling appointments; walk-in hours - Monday through Friday from 1 - 3 pm; or you can meet with a student Career Assistant during their office hours. Just call 610-519-4060 if you would like to make an appointment.