What is a Resume?
A resume is a concise summary of your education, employment history, and experiences relevant to the specific position you are applying for. Because employers receive hundreds of resumes, you should design your resume to be skimmed quickly—formatting it in such a way that your important information stands out and can easily be found by the reader.
Tips for Writing a Resume
The information you include in your resume should be carefully selected to convince prospective employers of your abilities and qualifications. The following are standard categories included on a resume:
- Identification. Include your name, address, phone, and email. If you have more than one address or will be moving, be sure to make this clear.
- Career or Professional Objectives. Including a specific objective can help employers match their needs to yours. Avoid “I” centered objectives; instead, focus on what your goals could mean to a prospective employer.
- Education. Include, in reverse chronological order, all degrees you have earned, where you earned them, and any other minors or areas of study. It is not necessary to include your GPA, but leaving it off may cause an employer to assume it was poor.
- Experience. Include all paid and volunteer work experience, detailing specific tasks and responsibilities, and using vocabulary that shows your understanding of the position or field. As you gain more relevant work experience this section can come before Education.
- Activities and Honors. This section is optional and should not take precedence over any of the others, but showing your additional activities and honors can be an effective way of impressing a prospective employer. Include anything that is especially relevant to the position you’re applying for.
- References. Sometimes simply including a sentence that says “References available upon request” is sufficient. If the application calls for references to be included on your resume (or if you’re not sure), then include the names, titles, and contact information for those people who have given you permission to use them as references. Three to five references are generally accepted.
Important Note: Interviewers are not allowed to ask you for personal information (such as age, marital status, or health), so you should not include such information on your resume.
Formatting a Resume
- Use a standard, easy-to-read, font type and size, single-spacing, and standard margins (1-1.25 in.).
- Develop and use a consistent system of headings and subheading to indicate the sections of your resume.
- Don’t write in paragraphs. Instead, use formatting (like bulleted lists) that facilitates speedy reading. A lot of white space is an indicator of an easy-to-read page.
- Make sure your contact information is easy to find; it should be the first thing at the top of the first page.
- Keep your resume no less than one full page and no more than three full pages (some circumstances may call for longer, more specialized resumes). Include your name and contact information on each page (you may be able to create a header for this).
- Make sure that your resume is up-to-date and truthful. Prospective employers will often to do background checks and when they do, they should only find out what you have already told them.