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Resume Writing Guidelines

Make Your Resume POP

A resume is a brief summary of your education and training, work experience, accomplishments and skills. A successful resume builds a bridge between you and the employer, with the articulation of your qualifications acting as the connection. Tailor your resume to your employer of interest! Also see our PowerPoint Presentation!

Consider your format: Choose a style that best highlights your unique skill set. In general, there are 3 resume styles:
  • The chronological resume is the most popular style and is preferred by many employers. This format presents your education and work experience in reverse time sequence, with the most recent events listed first. Job titles and dates are included in a chronological resume.
  • A functional resume emphasizes qualifications, skills, and related accomplishments over dates and job titles. This format utilizes short sentences or phrases, organizing skills into categories. This format is ideal for those who want to bridge a gap between their background and job requirements-for example, those who are changing career fields and have extensive work experience.
  • A combination resume borrows elements of both styles, emphasizing skills and work accomplishments.

Keep it current! Update your contact information (name, address, telephone number, and e-mail address) as needed!

  • Define your target: An objective may be targeted for a specific position or endeavor (example: Seeking a research internship position at Smith Communications, utilizing graduate-level coursework in statistics). Including an objective is optional. If you choose not to include an objective, be specific in your cover letter as to the position you are seeking. Experienced job seekers may wish to include a summary section in place of an objective.
  • Go back in time: List your most recent education first. Include your school name, degree (even if you have not yet graduated), major/minor/emphasis area, graduation month and year, and your grade point average if it is higher than 3.0. You may wish to include your overall grade point average or your major grade point average, or both. New graduates without extensive work experience should list their educational information first. Alumni or those with more work experience can list it after the work experience section.
  • Quantify your experience: Use "action verbs" and "power" words to describe your duties and responsibilities. Explain your job duties using short simple sentences or phrases. You may want to divide your work experience into multiple headings, e.g., related experience, teaching/student teaching, work experience, internship experience, etc.
  • Demonstrate your skills: Include verifiable abilities such as computer hardware and/or software skills and foreign language skills. Use terms such as "familiar with," "knowledgeable of" or "proficient in" as quantifiers.

Optional sections include:

  • Show your class: List relevant courses that add credibility to your skills and qualifications. List course titles-not course numbers. It is not necessary to list the grades earned in each course.
  • Keep it recent and relevant: List current or relevant honors, awards, and scholarships. Likewise, include activities that show leadership, responsibility, or community involvement. Take care not to reveal religious, political, or personal information.
  • References: Close your resume with "Available upon request." This indicates to the reader that this is the end. Do not include names of individual references here-list these on a separate page, and include only when the employer asks for the information.


  • Utilize options such as bold type, italics, and bullet points to draw the reader's eye to key areas. Be consistent with formatting, punctuation, and capitalization.
  • Use a font size and style that is easy to read.
  • Avoid using personal pronouns such as "I," "me," or "my" anywhere on your resume.
  • Re-title and re-order section headings as needed. You are in control of the way your information impacts employers.

Schedule an individual appointment with a Career Specialist or attend a Resume Writing Workshop for additional resume development assistance!