Your resume is a marketing tool to communicate your qualifications, skills, and experience to a potential employer or graduate program.
Developing Your Resume
- Make a list of your experiences. Include 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.
- Make a list of your skills. Including languages, technical skills, transferable functional skills, self-management skills, and career competencies. If these skills align closely with specific experiences you’ve had, you might incorporate them into bullet points for that experience. For example: Demonstrate excellent interpersonal skills working with diverse clients. Otherwise, you may include them in a separate “Skills” or “Competencies” section.
- Determine section headings. The content of your resume will help you determine appropriate categories. Do not simply use headings you’ve seen on sample resumes unless you have the content to fit. Place the Education heading after the contact information, then select headings that apply to you. Examples: Relevant Experience, Additional Experience, Leadership (should only be a separate section if you have several leadership roles), Undergraduate Research, Campus Involvement, Community Involvement, Awards/Honors.
- Write bullet points. When listing experiences, describe accomplishments and not just duties. Employers want to know how you performed, as opposed to what you were asked to do. Lead each phrase with an action verb and, if possible, end with results. For example, “Exceeded sales goals by 10 percent or more each quarter” is a stronger phrase than “Promoted merchandise to customers.”
- 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, list that above experience that is not directly relevant. Experiences listed in each section should be presented in reverse chronological order.Pro Tip: Organizations receiving a high volume of applications may use an applicant tracking system (ATS) to scan resumes for keywords associated with their requirements. To ensure that your resume makes it through the scanning process, be sure to: incorporate language from the job posting; spell out each organization, title, certification, etc., but also provide the acronym; and proofread very carefully – misspelled words will not be recognized.
- Have Your Resume Critiqued. You may make an appointment to speak with a career consultant about your resume through Handshake.
Developing a Master Resume
A master resume is a document that lists and describes in detail your work experience, accomplishments, volunteer experience, extracurricular activities, etc. This is the place to record everything you think might be valuable to share in your more tailored resume, on a job application, or in an interview. When noting experiences and accomplishments, include the skills you demonstrated. Add experiences to your master resume while they are on-going or as soon as you have completed them. When you are ready to apply for a job, your master resume will be a comprehensive list of all of your experiences and skills from which you can pull information for your tailored resume.
Pro Tip: When writing your experiences and accomplishments, include the skills you demonstrated. Add experiences to your master resume while they are in progress on-going or as soon as you have completed them
Sample Resumes and Bullet Points
We have provided MS Word document templates that you can edit to give you a starting point for your resume. Remember, don’t simply use the headings in these templates if you don’t have the content to fit. Use the steps above to develop headings and bullet points that make sense for your experience. Click on the bullet point link to see a helpful formula for writing bullet points, as well as some examples.
Often referred to as, “soft skills,” skills like communication, teamwork, and leadership are highly valued.
Attaching these and other a skills to a particular role or job gives the reader more context, and therefore gives you a more substantial and credible point on your resume.
For example, if you gained leadership skills by being a camp counselor, consider a bullet point that says, “Developed leadership skills by overseeing and leading a group of 15 high school sophomores to promote self-confidence.”
If you’ve developed a technical or task-related skill through experiences or courses not listed on your resume, then you may include those skills in a separate “Skills” section. For example, you may have developed writing and public speaking skills through several courses, without having an opportunity yet to use them in a job or other role.
Skills: Adobe InDesign, Photoshop, Microsoft Office Suite, Creating/Curating Social Media Content, Analyzing Data, Public Speaking Writing Across Platforms, Search Engine Optimization
Is your resume too short? Consider additional categories:
- Relevant Coursework (if you have taken courses not required for your major or that otherwise set you apart). Select three or four and list by name, including the semester in which you took each course.
- Project Work: Have you taken courses in which you worked in a team to provide a presentation or other deliverable at the end? See the Commerce and Business Administration resume sample.
- Special Interests: This may include hobbies, sports, or other leisure activities
Is your resume too long?
- Consider listing “Relevant Experience” and “Additional Experience” separately to devote the most attention to the former and leaving off bullet descriptions for the latter.
- Headings such as “Volunteer Experience” may simply list the agencies or groups with which you’re involved, without bulleted descriptions of your work. Long lists of agencies may be broken into even columns, tabbed apart, so that six lines becomes three.
- Shorten your contact information by including your number, email, and/or LinkedIn URL all on one line. Separate content with tabs or | lines.
- Check your formatting to narrow your margins. Avoid “orphans” and “widows” where a single word takes up an entire line. Use “+” to indicate “more than,” as in 200+ customers.
Formatting issues? Use our MS Word template resumes.