What is a Resume?
A resume is a professional introduction of yourself (to prospective employers or graduate schools) that clearly and concisely describes your skills and qualifications as they relate to the position you are trying to obtain. Customize your resume to appeal to a particular employer, placing the most significant information on the first page. A resume will not get you a job, but a well-written resume is key to securing an interview. Remember: a resume is a tool to market and promote yourself!
Sections of a Resume
The type of information included on a resume varies from student to student based on the academic, co-curricular, and work experience of each student. Potential sections include:
- Contact information
- Education (including study abroad)
- Certification/ Licensure or specialized training
- Related Coursework
- Research/Senior Project
- Experience - you may have more than one experience section on your resume (Internships, Exhibitions, Work Experience, Additional Experience). These sections should emphasize all paid and unpaid experiences, especially those related to your field of interest.
- Skills - includes foreign languages, computer skills, art skills, technical knowledge, specialized equipment
- Additional Sections: extracurricular involvement (athletics, clubs, organizations); volunteer work/community service; honors and awards; publications; professional memberships
Preparing to Write Your Resume
KNOW YOUR DIRECTION: Identify career paths (Career Services staff can help you do this). A generic resume will not get you a job. It is easier to write a resume when you have knowledge of the needs of employers in your fields of interest. Know the skills and qualifications required to be successful in these fields and emphasize those on your resume.
KNOW YOURSELF: Identify your skills, strengths, interests, and accomplishments as they relate to a job search. To write a resume you must think about past experiences, skills you gained and accomplishments. Then articulate how these are transferable to the job or internship you want to obtain.
KNOW THE LANGUAGE: Analyze job descriptions/advertisements. Identify the professional language of your career field and use these keywords to describe skills, abilities, and experiences on your resume.
KNOW IT TAKES TIME: Take time to create a well-written, concise resume. Remember this requires writing a draft, editing the draft and having your resume reviewed.
- Avoid using online templates. They generally do not allow for flexibility in highlighting your unique experiences and accomplishments.
- Put relevant experience first. Whether your resume is one or two pages, the key is for the most important and significant information to be found on the first page.
- Choose Words Wisely. Use keywords and language appropriate to your industry. Not only does is show you have knowledge of the career field, it is essential when your resume is first reviewed by a computer based screening system. Without the right keywords you will not get by the initial screening.
- Don't Be Too Fancy. If an employer (or computer program) cannot view your resume because of fancy fonts, borders, etc., you will never get an interview. Use a standard font in a size no smaller than 10-11 pt and do not incorporate graphics, borders or clip art. Exception: Graphic Design and Art fields.
- Emphasize Accomplishments. Use action verbs to highlight achievements, accomplishments and abilities, giving specific measurable results when possible (ex: "increased membership by 50%").
- Make the resume highly skimmable. - On average, en employer spends 10 seconds deciding whether or not you are a potential candidate. Use short paragraphs / bullet points, crisp descriptions, and use of bold, underline, and italics to emphasize important information.
- Proofread, Proofread, Proofread. Check spelling, punctuation, grammar, word usage, dates, etc. One mistake can make the difference in receiving an invitation for an interview! Don't forget: have Career Services review your resume.
Chronological (reverse chronological): This resume format is the one most preferred by employers. It lists experiences in reverse chronological order - from present to past.
Functional: This resume format is organized by skills categories including leadership, communication, administrative, project management, and other categories unique to you and the job for which you are applying. Functional resumes do not focus on employers and job titles, but may contain a brief job history at the end of the resume.