Your resume may be the most important marketing tool in your job search.

In most cases, this presentation of your accomplishments and skills will be your first introduction to an employer. When creating your resume, remember that the goal is to produce a document that will convince each targeted employer to invite you to an interview.

An effective resume helps the prospective employer form a picture of you as a candidate who demonstrates the skills needed for the job and who achieves results.  Having a master resume on file allows you to maintain notes related to your experiences and when you apply for a position, you can pull from the master list to create a tailored resume.

The following information and resources may be helpful to you as you write and refine your resume. We encourage you to have your resume critiqued by a member of the Career Center consulting staff. Click here to see our resume walk-in hours for Spring.

Developing Your Resume

When creating your resume, remember the goal is to produce a document that will convince each employer to invite you to interview. Begin by creating a comprehensive document then tailor it for each job.

  1. Make a List. Generate a list of everything you have done or earned in college relating to jobs, campus activities, class projects, travel abroad, sports, volunteer activities, awards, honors, foreign languages, computer skills, and so on. List as many details you can recall, including dates.
  2. Determine Headings. The content of your resume will help you determine appropriate categories. The following headings may help you brainstorm ways to organize your experiences and qualifications: Education, Honors, Presentations, Internship(s), Awards, Certifications, Licensures, Publications, Campus Involvement, Relevant Experience, Leadership Experience, Additional Experience, Volunteer Experience, Community Involvement, Professional Associations, Extracurricular Activities, Computer Skills, Technical Skills, and Relevant Skills.
  3. Describe Accomplishments. When listing experiences (e.g., work, campus involvement, volunteer activities), describe accomplishments and not just duties. Employers want to know how you performed, as opposed to what you were asked to do. For example, “Exceeded sales goals by 10 percent or more each quarter” is a stronger phrase than “Promoted merchandise to customers.” Lead each phrase with a verb that shows action and, if possible, results. (A list of action verbs is included in this guide.) For example, “Recruited 25 volunteers to deliver meals on weekends,” instead of, “I helped this organization by asking others to assist with meal delivery.”
  4. Tailor Information. Employers scan resumes quickly, and the sooner they see how you might fit their needs, the better your chances of avoiding elimination. Organize your sections according to relevance to the target job. If you have relevant experience (co-op, internship, part-time job, or an activity that directly relates to the target job), list that above experience that is not directly relevant. Experiences listed in each section should be presented in reverse chronological order. Learn the key words associated with your target industry and incorporate them appropriately into your resume. Be sure to project an accurate reflection of your skill level and knowledge.
  5. Have Your Resume Critiqued. Proofread every single word and contact the UA Career Center for a resume critique. Career consultants can help you achieve the goal of promoting your qualifications within the preferred resume length (typically one page).

Details That Matter

Focusing on your accomplishments and experiences is essential in writing an effective resume, but don’t forget the details that are also noticed. Inventing a new name for your degree or neglecting to write the town and state of your internship are among the mistakes candidates make that leave the employer wondering how attentive they are to details.

Master Resume

What is a master resume? A master resume is a document that lists and describes in detail your work experience, accomplishments, volunteer experience, extracurricular activities, etc. Your master resume is the place to record everything you think might be valuable to share in your more tailored resume, on your job application, or in your interview. If you are a freshman, you will include involvement and achievements from high school.

Because this particular resume is for your use only, you can elaborate on responsibilities and projects that might later be pared down or, depending on the targeted position, not mentioned at all. When noting experiences and accomplishments, include the skills you demonstrated.

What is the benefit of creating a master resume?

When you are preparing for an interview, you will have a listing of different skills you have acquired and examples of how you have applied them.  A comprehensive list of experiences and skills allows you to notice patterns and connections among your accomplishments and activities.   Noticing themes in your prior involvements may lead to ideas about future employment.  If you have a career in mind, you may also be able to spot gaps in your background related to skills needed to secure employment.  You can begin planning ways to acquire missing skills or to gain experience that you know will be valued.

Functional Resume

A functional resume focuses more on your skills and areas of experience or expertise. A chronological resume emphasizes specific positions/titles and the tasks associated with each. If your chronological resume clearly shows experiences related to the target position, then a chronological format is most appropriate for you. If listing your qualifications chronologically does not immediately show the reader that you are a match for that job, then consider the functional format.

Though employers may be drawn to the categories of experiences and skills on a functional resume, some still like to see the specific tasks you held in each job. You can address this by including some specifics in the areas of skills that are easily associated with previous jobs. You can then include a “basic facts only” employment section presented in reverse chronological order.

Keep in mind that one resume will not necessarily be effective for all jobs you’re targeting. Consider asking professionals in your chosen field to review different versions of your resume and offer suggestions on the best approach.

A functional resume may be effective when you are:

  • Targeting a career that does not relate directly to previous jobs
  • Transitioning from volunteer roles and community activities to paying positions
  • Presenting past experiences that are extremely similar (to avoid repeating very similar bullet points)
  • Looking for a position for which you might be seen as overqualified based on previous jobs held
  • A college student with skills developed from diverse activities including part-time jobs, activities, volunteer experience, etc.
  • Someone with gaps in work history including stay-at-home parents
  • A candidate who has changed jobs fairly often and does not want to call attention to the employment dates
  • A collegiate athlete who had little time for activities other than practice, training, and competing

Tailored Resume

A tailored resume is one written to address the specific requirements of the targeted job or organization. Recruiters scan resumes quickly to evaluate a candidate’s qualifications for the job being filled.  For that reason, applicants need to examine the requirements carefully and write their resume as a marketing tool for that position rather than a lengthy overview to accommodate all potential employers.

Tailoring a resume begins with dissecting the job posting to have a clear understanding of what the employer needs. With that understanding, you can then consider how to present your information to show you are able to meet those needs.

Writing a tailored resume is often more difficult than people expect. Allow yourself time to write a couple of drafts and to have your resume critiqued. A member of the Career Center consulting staff will be glad to review your resume and offer suggestions.

The Military-to-Civilian Resume

Military experience provides opportunities to develop a range of skills, many of which transfer to civilian jobs. Once you begin targeting jobs, you’ll want to write a resume that includes your military experience described in terms readily understood by someone without a military background.

Avoid using military jargon, abbreviations, and acronyms. Focus on the skills you developed in leadership, communication, teamwork, management, supervision, training, translating, coordinating, planning, monitoring, and organizing. These are among the many transferable skills gained through military experience.

The following are resources that can help you translate your military experience into terms familiar to civilian employers:

Resumes for Government Jobs

Resumes for federal jobs include more details than those written for jobs in private industries. You can begin building a resume for federal employment in the same way you build any resume — by listing jobs, skills, accomplishments, projects, leadership positions, and activities. After generating this list, visit to learn how to format resumes for government jobs.

Online Resume

Creating an online resume allows you to present your qualifications through videos, images, and examples of your work. Depending on your field, an online resume might be more effective than a traditional resume. There are a variety of options for developing an online resume including paying someone to create one for you. Before deciding on this option, consider using a free service to create your own. At, you can learn more about the benefits of having an online resume and the steps for creating one at no charge.

International Resumes

Resume content and formats vary from country to country. If you are interested in working outside the U.S., be sure to research guidelines for writing an appropriate resume for your desired location.

Creative Resumes

No matter how clever the design, a resume will still need to convey to the employer your potential to bring value to the organization. If you put all your effort into the style of your resume, you may neglect to develop the substance.

Focus first on the content of your resume. The suggestions in the previous section, “Building Your Resume,” may help you generate ideas.

Think of creative projects you have done as a volunteer, organization member, employee, or intern. Relevant experience does not have to be paid experience. Let the employer know you have demonstrated your talents and honed your skills. The resumes on the following pages offer examples of ways to highlight accomplishments and diverse abilities.

If you are interested in learning how you might add an appropriate touch of creativity to your resume, talk with professionals in your targeted field or meet with your career consultant in the UA Career Center. You may also refer to page 37 for information about portfolios. Promoting creativity through a portfolio is recommended by employers who caution that creative resumes can backfire. Research the organization to which you’re applying and try to determine if a more cutting-edge resume design is your best bet. If the organization receives hundreds of resumes for each position, you might go with a design that will stand out (positively) from the rest. Examples of creative resumes are available on numerous websites including Pinterest.

Preparing a Curriculum Vitae

The curriculum vitae (also referred to as a CV or vita) is a comprehensive biographical statement, typically three or more pages, emphasizing professional qualifications and activities. Below are tips to help you begin preparing your document. The CV is a detailed and structured listing of education, publications, projects, awards, and work history. This document works best for job seekers applying for positions in academics or research. The CV may also work well for graduate school applicants required to elaborate on research experience and/or research interests.

The CV is far more detailed (typically 3-8 or more pages) than a resume (1-2 pages). The CV can include educational and work achievements, research experience, languages, skills, grants/fellowships/scholarships, classes, licenses or certifications, professional associations, and other relevant information. A resume is a shorter, concise document that highlights aspects of your background that relate to the position for which you are applying. Unless the prospective employer specifically requests a CV, it is safest to send a resume.

CV Headings May Include:

  • Personal and Contact Information
  • Applicant Information
  • Professional, Vocational, or Research Objective
  • Education
  • Relevant Course Work
  • Awards, Honors, and Patents
  • Research Experience
  • Teaching Experience
  • Relevant Experience
  • Publications
  • Related Skills (including technical)
  • Presentations
  • Conferences Attended
  • Professional Licenses or Certifications
  • Memberships and Associations
  • Institutional Service
  • Community Service
  • References