The Career Development Center provides resume writing assistance to students during our drop-in hours. Click here to view our Career Express schedule for this semester.
Resume Writing Guide
Resume/Cover Letter/References Samples
Writing a Résumé
A résumé is a one to two page, easy-to-read, results-oriented marketing document convincing employers that you are qualified to deliver the results they seek. Try to "think like an employer". What are the most important skills and qualities they are looking for in this type of position?
You may also use a résumé for graduate school applications, networking, scholarship applications, and to help your reference letter writers. Arrange your résumé so that the employer sees the most significant skills, knowledge and abilities first. Develop a first-draft using the following guidelines and bring it to the Career Development Center for review.
What To Include:
Include your name, address, phone number and email. Include a current address where you can be reached. Use the name that you go by unless it is a nickname. Make sure your voice mail or answering machine has a professional-sounding message.
QUALIFICATIONS SUMMARY (optional)
Also known as a Career Summary or Career Profile, your Qualifications Summary tells the employer why you have the right to ask for the position - what qualifies you. It should emphasize your knowledge, experience, skills and areas of expertise. The summary can be organized in several ways: a narrative (3 or 4 sentences), a short introductory narrative followed by bullets, or bulletized statements alone. For Systems or Technical candidates, a technical summary should be included since this information is used in the screening process.
EDUCATION & PROFESSIONAL TRAINING
Starting out, your most important credential is often your education. List your highest degree first, followed by major, name of school and location. Dates may be included for recent graduates. If no degree has been conferred, list universities attended (most recent first). Also mention scholarships, honors and awards. Other professional training and certifications can also be included in this section.
List paid and volunteer positions (most recent first), internships, summer jobs, student teaching, and research experiences. Think of how skills used in these experiences can transfer to the new job. An example for translating your work at Burger King to a job you want involving customer satisfaction is: Worked diligently on a team to provide excellent customer service. Increased customer satisfaction by 10%. List the organizations, location, title, dates, responsibilities or scope of work. Include accomplishments, results, honors, awards, excellent performance reviews, promotions, added responsibilities, people trained or supervised, money earned or saved, improvements in quality and customer service. What value did you add to your employer? Quantify your results (ex: increased by 14%, #1 salesperson, supervised 5 employees, saved $4,000). Use action verbs to begin any sentence such as: Designed four dances that received top reviews by local papers.
MEMBERSHIPS & AFFILIATIONS
List significant volunteer, community service, athletic or campus activities involvement. Focus on leadership positions and key accomplishments. Membership is not as important as the work you did or the positions you held.
List other languages in which you are fluent. Also any software packages you in which you are proficient.
REFERENCES (separate document, do not include references on your resume)
Your résumé need not state "references available on request." However, be ready to provide them on request. Be sure to ask individuals if they would be willing to be a reference for you prior to mentioning their names to prospective employers. Get a general idea of what they will say about you. Prepare a separate typed list of 3-5 references to provide at the interview. This list should include name, title, employer, address, business and home telephone number, as well as your relationship to that person. Your references should be people that know your work best including previous employers, internship supervisors, and faculty. It is also good to include a variety of relationships - peers, superiors, subordinates (if possible) and customers.
Questions to ask about your résumé, once it is completed:
- Is it brief, and to the point?
- Are your achievements prominently highlighted?
- Will the employer know your strongest skills by reading your resume?
- Do they know the job you are seeking?
- Are you qualified for the position you seek?
- Will the employer be able to contact you easily?
- How's the grammar? Ask a fellow student or someone else you know to review it for you. Misspellings and poorly constructed sentences communicate negative impressions about a candidate.
- Is it neat and visually appealing? Choose high quality paper in white or off-white. Have the final version printed on a laser printer.
Having trouble starting a résumé?
Start with several pieces of blank paper. List the headings for each section, and begin with the last section first, working backwards. Don't limit yourself at this point; list everything, even if it seems trivial. Your Qualifications Summary is the most difficult section - do it last.
- Education: list colleges and universities attended, exchange programs, high school, off-campus study, etc.
- Work: list all jobs held-full or part time, paid or unpaid.
- Activities: list everything you have done, now and in high school, in terms of organized groups, teams, clubs, community involvement, etc.
- Honors and Awards: list scholarships, class standing, special recognition and academic achievements.
For each section ask yourself the following questions:
- Is this a skill that the employer is looking for in this type of position?
- How can I describe the way in which these skills can be used to benefit this employer? For example, being a robust member of a fraternity may not be all that earth-shaking to an employer, however, the fact that you organized philanthropic functions to help the community may be of interest.
- Are there things on this list that I feel a sense of pride or accomplishment about?
- Which things on my list show different aspects of my personality or strengths?
- Your job flipping hamburgers or mowing lawns may seem trivial to you, but being a conscientious worker during these jobs may be pertinent information.
Develop a first draft of your résumé and bring it by the Career Development Center to Career Express for review.