Design and Format
Length: When applying to internships or entry-level jobs, keep your resume to one page. If you have some professional experience, go up to two pages. Resumes of more than two pages are appropriate only in certain fields such as higher education, research, some consulting or highly technical areas, and/or when offering a professionally relevant body of work (academic publications, speaking engagements and so on).
Margins: Margins should be consistent on all sides (0.5 to 1 inch).
Font: Keep it simple. Sans serif fonts are optimal for online reading. Good font choices are Calibri, Arial and Tahoma. If you’d like to use a serif font, choose Cambria or Times New Roman. Do not use more than three fonts in your resume.
Font size: In general, 10.5 is the smallest point size, and 12 is the largest point size recommended. For headers and your name, it’s OK to use a slightly larger font so they stand out.
Consistency: Be consistent in each section. If the title for your work experiences is bold, it should also be bold for your student and community involvement.
Download our Steps to Writing a Resume guide.
Use clear section headings. Resumes contain the following components:
- Contact Information
- Professional Summary and Personal Branding Statement
- Professional Experience
- Education and Training
- Volunteer Experience (optional)
- Skills (optional)
The header of your resume is where you should include your name; city, state and zip code; phone number; and email address. Depending on your industry, you may want to also include your LinkedIn URL. (If you don’t have a LinkedIn account, create a free account at linkedin.com. Customize your LinkedIn URL; ask your advisor if you need assistance.)
- Email: Use a professional email address, ideally one that is simply your first and last name. Example: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Phone: Make sure you have recorded a professional-sounding voicemail greeting. Avoid the system default greetings, which can seem unprofessional and impersonal. And make sure your voicemail box is never full, so callers can leave messages.
Professional Summary and Personal Branding Statement
A recruiter spends, on average, less than 10 seconds scanning a resume, so your document must hook the employer immediately by focusing on their business needs (not what you want) and stating what you can do for them. The summary contains three elements: personal branding statement, hard skills and soft skills.
Personal branding statement: This includes a functional title (the job you’re applying for) and the value/impact you bring to an organization.
- Example: Effective Sales Manager [functional title]
- Reduce operating costs, regain lost market share, drive revenue growth [value/impact]
- If you need some help developing your branding statement, contact Career Services.
Hard skills: These are functional areas of expertise.
- Examples: Client Retention, Product Marketing, Talent Management, Driving Revenue
- Include technical skills if they are essential to the target position.
Soft skills: These are strengths, experience and attributes.
- Examples: Engage and energize teams. Improve communications across sophisticated sales platforms. Create innovative solutions that drive repeat business. Employs collaborative approaches with large-scale and small-business customers.
Keywords: Conduct research on your industry to find relevant keywords that you can include in your resume.
This section is where you’ll prove the claims made in your summary/branding section. You’ll show where and how you used your skills, strengths and experience in your internship and employment history.
List in reverse chronological order your professional experience. Include quantifiable accomplishments that were a result of your work; show an action and a result for each bullet. Do not list only tasks or responsibilities.
- Accomplishments need two key elements: actions and results. Actions highlight your strengths and expertise (what you did), and results highlight the impact/contribution you can make (outcome). The order can be either action plus result OR result plus action.
- Managed team of 3 interns and improved productivity by 10 percent with smaller lag time between invoicing and payment.
- Coordinated blood donor drives, bringing in 23 new participants in one year.
Education and Training
List your college name, city and state, and major/degree. If you did not list your internships under Professional Experience, you can list here, or you may want to create a separate section for internships. If you've just graduated, include your GPA only if it is 3.5 or higher. List any coursework relevant to the position.
Volunteer Experience (optional)
Consider if and how this information is relevant to the organization and the position. For example, if you’ve volunteered for a community organization and you’re targeting a not-for-profit employer, listing your experience can show you have applicable interests.
List only those skills relevant to the job for which you’re applying.
- List language skills with qualifiers: literate, conversational, proficient, fluent.
- List computer skills in regard to specific applications. List proficiency level when applicable.
- List computer languages and software specific to the industry.
Writing and Editing Tips
Voice: Do not use personal pronouns such as: I, me, my, mine, our, their. Write in the first person and as if a silent “I” is at the beginning. Example: Managed a team of 4 …
Tense: Be consistent based on time periods. If you are currently in a role, write in present tense. If you are no longer in a role, write in past tense.
Action verbs: Use strong, active verbs in your bullet points.
Use full thoughts instead of complete sentences. Eliminate articles such as: a, an, the.
Use numbers instead of spelling them out: “Wrote 7 articles” instead of “Wrote seven articles.”
Use abbreviations. Use $1M instead of $1,000,000. Use $3K instead of “three thousand dollars.”
Proofreading: Ensure everything is accurate and complete, and proofread carefully to ensure there are no typos. Share your resume with your peers and professionals to review and provide feedback.