Writing a Resume

The Smart Choice

What Is a Resume?

To apply for a job, it’s nearly always necessary to have a resume, whether you’re applying in person or through an online listing. Your resume is a brief overview of your personal information that is relevant to an employer, including your educational background, your employment experience, other training and qualifications, personal achievements, and other information that is relevant to an industry or job position.

Your resume is your personal advertisement and has the tremendously important job of making a first impression on your behalf. It does not need to tell your life story, but it does need to make an employer say, “I want to talk to this person!”

On average, prospective employers spend only 6 seconds on a preliminary evaluation of each resume, so, when you’re writing your resume, it’s important to focus on both brevity and impact.

Resume Structure

A basic, professional resume should have the following information:

  • Your name and contact information
  • Educational experience, including relevant coursework
  • Employment experience (if applicable), beginning with most recent job
  • Honors and awards
  • Community service or volunteer work
  • Leadership experience

All information should be presented in past tense, and should use action verbs. For example: Lead six classmates in group assignment; Reorganized facility records; Supervised one other employee; etc. Unless you have an extensive and relevant work history, your resume should be no more than one page.

Resume Do’s

  • Check for correct spelling and punctuation
  • Ensure your resume is visually appealing
    • Resumes should be vertically and horizontally balanced without large white spaces
  • Customize your resume for each prospective employer
    • Examine a job description for the position you are seeking and make sure the required qualifications are apparent on your resume
  • Use a business-like email address
  • Make a PDF file of your resume once it is complete
  • Use the same font in the entire body of your resume
  • Make a separate page for references
  • Match the header on your resume, cover letter, and reference page

Resume Don’ts

  • Use any first person pronouns anywhere on your resume
  • Include any educational information about your high school or the year you completed high school  
  • Falsify anything

Sample Resumes

Need more help writing your resume? Make an appointment with the Career and Student Development Center today!