Resume Writing Guide

Purpose of a Resume

A resume is used to show you have the knowledge, skills and experience relevant to a particular job and to entice the employer to interview you.

Self Assessment

In order to put together an effective resume, it is important to know your abilities, what skills you have developed, what values are important to you in a career, and what you can offer to an employer. The first step in preparing your resume is to think about yourself, your experiences and your accomplishments. Ask yourself these kinds of questions:

What skills have I developed?
What are my strengths?
What have I accomplished?
Why should someone hire me?

Draw from academic work/honors, clubs and activities, volunteer experiences, and prior work experience.  Students develop many basic skills that can be transferred to a variety of work environments like organizational, communication, and interpersonal skills, as well as learning to meet deadlines and communicate ideas to a variety of people.  Getting together basic ideas about your set of skills will make writing your resume an easier task.

Construction/Layout - Keeping it Professional

  • Your resume should be able to be scanned by an employer in about 30 seconds, so you want to keep it organized, easy to read, and make sure your important points stand out
  • Font: use 10-12 point font in a "universal" font style (ie Arial, Garamond, Tahoma, etc)
  • Margins: Between 0.5-1.0 inch margins, and equal on all 4 sides
  • Length: Keep it to one page, especially for students/recent grads. If you have more extensive work experience or an advanced degree, two pages is acceptable.
  • Use good, quality (cotton fiber bond) paper, colored white or ivory, 81/2 x 11. Light blue or gray colored paper is sometimes used in apply for positions where creativity is important (ex. Marketing, elementary education, communications). Know your reader and what is acceptable in the career field, and make resume decisions accordingly.
  • NO spelling, grammatical, punctuation, or typographical errors. Proofread!
  • Do not include personal information that is not related to the position you are applying for (Example: race, age, sex, marital status, # of children, height, weight, health status)

Important Categories of a Resume

Here are some of the major categories that can be listed on your resume.  They can be changed/modified as you move forward in your education and career so they highlight specific skills or accomplishments.

3 Major Categories = Contact Information, Education, and Work Experience

Additional Categories = Leadership Experiences, Honors/Awards, Community/Volunteer Service, Professional Affiliations, Computer Skills, Relevant Coursework, Languages, Licenses/Accreditations/Certifications, Languages

Contact Information

  • Include both your school and permanent address
  • Indicate which phone number is your cell
  • Include your email address. If you have more than one, put the one you check most frequently.


  • Briefly indicate the sort of position, title, and area of specialization sought
  • Ex: Seeing a ... (summer internship/full time position/part time position) in....(accounting/an elementary school/the human services field)


  • Work from your most current degree backwards (ie Masters, then Undergrad, then high school)
  • Indicate name of university, location, and anticipated date of graduation
  • Indicate your major, minor, any areas of concentration, and cumulative GPA
  • Omit high school if you have completed more than two years of college, unless referencing impressive honors or relevant extracurricular activities
  • Include any honors, awards, or scholarships
  • If you want one of these to stand out, consider giving it its own "Academic Highlight" category

Relevant Coursework

  •  List major classes you have completed or are currently enrolled in, as well as a few classes from your cognate, minor, or concentration

Employment Experience

  •  Start with your most recent experience and work backward (reverse chronological order)
  • Include Name of Company, City, State, Position, and dates of employment
  • Begin sentences/phrases with powerful action verbs. Describe responsibilities, accomplishments, problems/solutions, contributions
  • If possible include quantitative indicators that describe the results of your achievement, i.e., "increased sales by $50,000" or "was responsible for the management of 35 employees"

Indicate transferable skills valued by employers:

  • Communication - ability to listen, write, and speak effectively
  • Analytical/Research - assess a situation, seek multiple perspectives, gather information, identify key issues
  • Flexibility/Adaptability/Managing Multiple Priorities
  • Interpersonal Abilities - relating to co-workers, inspiring others, managing conflict
  • Leadership/Management
  • Planning/Organizing - design, plan, organize, and implement projects/tasks within an allotted time frame, goal setting
  • Problem Solving/Reasoning/Creativity - finding solutions to problems using creativity, reasoning, past experiences, and available information and resources
  • Teamwork - working with others professionally to achieve a common goal
Extracurricular Activities, Community Service, Leadership
  • List any clubs/sports/activities you are involved in on campus, including agencies you have done community service with
  • List positions of responsibility/leadership - include your title, the name of the organization, and date
  • Include hobbies and personal interests only if they are relevant


  • Simply stating "Available on Request" is sufficient if space allows

Additional Headings for Your Resume

The following list is meant to give you ideas for additional ways to list categories on your resume

Educational Background
Educational Preparation
Academic Background
Academic Training
Leadership Appointments
Leadership Roles
College Activities
Community Involvement
CertificationsAreas of ExpertiseEducational HighlightsAcademic HighlightsCareer HighlightsProfessional Skills
Professional Affiliations
Military Service
InternshipCareer Related ExperiencePracticumStudent TeachingClassroom ExperienceCoaching ExperienceClinical AffiliationsSenior Project
Special Talents
Additional Skills
Computer Skills
Foreign Language Skills
Travel Experiences
Travel Abroad
Summary of QualificationsProfessional HighlightsAchievements
Placement File

Information on Creating a Resume for Online Submission

With the increase in the use of electronic applicant tracking systems in human resources departments, you need to be prepared to provide a scannable resume, in addition to the original resume you created. Listed below are some tips and suggestions:

  • Use white paper (8 1/2 x 11") with black ink
  • You can use more than one page
  • Use standard fonts such as Helvetica, New Century, Optima, Palatino, Times Roman
  • Use a font size of 10 to 14
  • Do not use all caps
  • Do not use graphics
  • Avoid bold, italics, underline, and shadows
  • You can use asterisks - Do not use bullets
  • void vertical and horizontal lines, parentheses, brackets, graphics, columns, and boxes
  • Use common headings
  • Use words specific to your career field to maximize the number of matches between what the company is looking for and what you have to offer
  • Include the names of specific machines, equipment, procedures you have experience with
  • You can use abbreviations such as BS, BA, MBA
  • Use a laser or ink jet printer - Do not use a dot matrix printer

Office of Career Services 
Resume Templates

Templates for General Use
Template One   
Template Two
Template Three   
Template Four   
Template Five     
Template Six     
Template Seven  
Template Eight

Template Nine

View Template Layouts

Curriculum Vitae

Functional Resume template

Education-Education Majors Education Majors II
Human Resources - HR Template

Counseling Undergrad / Grad Undergrad  - Grad
Life Sciences - Biology, Chemistry, etc.
Nursing -     Sample 1       Sample 2

Occupational Therapy  Name-Top Name - Left
Physical Therapy Majors I 
Technical I -Computer, Elec. Engineering I
Technical II - Computer, Elec. Engineering

Helpful Tools for Writing "Action Based" Job Descriptions

 Resume Samples

Samples by Major from NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers) - Additional resume samples
Samples by targeted job -