Common Guidelines


Read our Resume Handout!

  • Resume length: 1-2 pages (for most people still in college or recent grads  your resume will be 1 page)

  • Font type and size:   Arial, Times New Roman, Gill Sans (easy to read types), 10 – 12 pt size

  • Name and headings should stand out and be easy to read

  • Margins: ½ inch to 1 inch on all sides.  Keep sides symmetrical.

  • Use bold , italics , and underline to highlight content of particular relevance and importance

  • Use a consistent verb tense (past or present tense)

  • Use action oriented words to describe your experiences

  • Organize your content in a way that reflects your professional pursuits

  • Proofread your resume and have others review it for grammar and clarity

  • Name the document appropriately when saving to your computer, (ex.  Jane Doe Resume 2011.doc)

  • Save your resume as a .pdf document for easy electronic transmission

  • Print on resume paper using a laser printer

One, Two, or Three Resumes?

It is common to have a few different resumes, all ready for use.  One may be geared towards a job in marketing, while another may be better for a legal assistant position.  Know that your resume should be tailored for the type of position you are seeking.  Subtle differences can create a distinctive resume and one that highlights the skills and experiences you have which are most relevant to the available job or internship. 

Before You Begin

Below is a list of what you will need to know/have before you begin writing your resume:

  • Your current contact information
  • Career objective (optional)
  • College information (major, GPA, study abroad information, etc.)
  • List of honors and awards (including date)
  • List of professional presentations, papers, and conferences
  • List of experiences (jobs, activities, volunteering).  Name of organization, your title/role, city, state, dates.
  • List of skills and certifications (foreign language, lab, and computer skills, CPR certification, etc.)

Choose Your Style

Your resume is unique and reflects your own experiences.  It is important to choose a visual format to your liking, along with a suitable structure for content.  Be consistent with the presentation and content.  Browse through the resume book at Career Development and choose a few resumes that you like.  Having these on hand will help you create your document.  TIP:  Do not use the Resume Templates in Microsoft Word.  These can be helpful, but eventually they create a document which is difficult to edit.

Ready, Set, Type!

Once you are ready to start putting words to paper, it is time to begin!  Most resumes will include several sections; they are listed below and reviewed in more detail. 

  • Name and contact information

Your name should be the largest text on the page and it is usually bolded.  Include your college and home addresses, telephone, and email.  If you list your cell phone, be certain that your outgoing message is appropriate for potential employers.  Similarly, only use professional email addresses.  US resumes do not need additional personal information; however, if you seek employment outside the US, you should prepare a resume specifically for that country.

  • Objective (optional)

The objective is a brief statement indicating the type of position you seek.  Example:  A summer internship in the media department of a large advertising agency.

  • Education

List the name of your college, type of degree earned (ex.  Bachelor of Arts), and the month and year of your graduation.  Your GPA may be included if it is a 3.0 or higher.  In addition to your cumulative GPA, you may wish to include the GPA of your major, particularly if it is higher than your cumulative GPA.

Study abroad information can be included here.  Provide the name of your program, location, and a brief description. 

Honors and awards can be listed in this section, or in their own section.  State the name of the honor/award and the date earned.  It is helpful to describe the award/honor if not widely known.

High school information can be included up until your junior year.  At that time, you should have plenty of college-related experience for a full page resume.

  • Related Experience  Items in this section should be directly related to the job/internship you are pursuing.  List your most recent experience first.

Your job title/role, name of employer/organization, city, state.  Dates.
Provide a concise and relevant description of this job/activity focusing on what you accomplished and how you accomplished the tasks. See section below on Accomplishment Statements.

  • Leadership and/or Volunteer Experience

Items in this section can include experiences on campus, in the community or in any other organization.  Leadership and/or volunteer experiences need not be long term to be relevant.   

Provide a concise and relevant description of this activity focusing on what you accomplished and how you accomplished the tasks. See section below on Accomplishment Statements.

  • Skills

Computer skills, technical ability, scientific/lab experience, foreign language competency and certifications should be included in this section. Only list skills you are comfortable using on a regular basis and indicate your level of ability, ex. “working knowledge,” “proficient,” “expert.” 

Accomplishment Statements

A common weakness found with undergraduate resumes (and even resumes of seasoned professionals), is the absence of accomplishment statements.  It’s easy to write on a resume what you did in a particular job, internship or even volunteer opportunity, but the more challenging part (and usually more important part) is telling the reader how good you are at what you did.  This is done through accomplishment statements. 

Basics of Accomplishment Statements

A well-formulated accomplishment statement has two parts:

A)      The results or benefits that came as a result of your work.  These results/benefits should be stated in terms of the value added and in as tangible and quantified a manner as possible.

B)      The action you took to achieve those benefits/results. 

Examples of Accomplishment Statements

  • “Directed team of 4 classmates to complete marketing project on time”
  • “Instituted residence hall tutoring program that increased average overall GPA from a 2.9 to a 3.3”
  • “Increased membership in ABC student club by 40% through creative advertising”
  • “Presented training for new campus-wide email system to approximately 30% of the student body”

 What are not considered Accomplishments

  • Daily responsibilities that are included in your job description
  • Regular attendance at work
  • Working full-time while going to college at night
  • Volunteer or community service unless it has a direct bearing on your job search

In other words, an accomplishment is service that goes beyond your usual job description.  The best statements describe how you added value by increasing efficiency, saving time, and saving money.  

How to Write Accomplishment Statements

  • Always start with an action word
    • Good: “Responsible for leading team for classroom assignments.”
    • Better: “Directed team of 4 classmates to complete assignment on time”
    • Attempt to quantify
      • Good: “Routed calls to Annual Giving staff.”
      • Better:  “Routed over 100 calls daily to Annual Giving staff of 10.”
      • State first the benefit to the employer and then what you did to accomplish the result
        • Good: “Developed a marketing strategy that increased student involvement”
        • Better: “Increased student involvement by 15% through a creative marketing strategy" 

Gathering the Information

As an exercise to gather your career achievements, review your former jobs and roles and responsibilities within each position.  Ask yourself what tasks you performed.  What did you do on a daily, weekly or monthly basis?  Now think about the challenges you faced while performing these duties.  Accomplishments are often the result of creative solutions to unique or ongoing challenges.

Some Additional Hints
To help list your accomplishments, think of a time when you:

Increased Profits  •  Did what couldn’t be done  •  Found a new opportunity  •  Reduced Costs  •  Foresaw a need  •  Accomplished the same with less  •  Reduced Errors  •  Foresaw a problem  •  Accomplished more with the same  •   Reduced conflict  •  Found an easier solution  •  Presented a problem  •  Improved teamwork  •  Found a cheaper solution  •  Solved a chronic problem  •  Raised Standards