Quick Guide to Resume Writing

A resume is:

  • An attractive, factual account of your personal assets as they relate to work you want.
  • An individually designed summary of personal, educational and experience qualifications.
  • An advertisement to entice the employer to take a closer look.
  • A valuable "first impression" to prompt an interview.

Building your resume

Due to the convenience of modern technology, you can easily change and reformat your resume to tailor it most effectively for a job. Taking time to tailor it for a position as much as you can (adding relevant coursework, projects, experiences or skills) will only be to your benefit.

Therefore, when you draft your first resume, do so with one type of position in mind. If you are a teacher, make it a general subject area or grade; your resume won't change that much. If you are a business major looking for anything from sales to management, focus on one general area. The CDC can help you determine how to begin in this area.

Know that the information provided is here to give you ideas. Feel free to experiment with formats, fonts and layout to fit your preferences, following some general guidelines.

A resume should:

  • Paint a picture of your experience–briefly, succinctly and accurately
  • Look professional and read professionally
  • Include well-thought through descriptions
  • Be error-free
  • Show what you have done (academically and professionally)
  • Indicate what kind of job you want and are qualified to do
  • Include community involvement like extracurricular activities, honors and awards, professional and social organizations, professional development (workshops and seminars), etc.

In general:

  • Font size should be no smaller than 11 point.
  • Margins can be modified, but .6 at the top or bottom (and .8 on the sides) is probably the smallest you should go.
  • Use good verbs. And try to be specific. "Assisted" doesn't always tell us "how." "Maintained" is also another "too general" verb.
  • Don't repeat verbs over and over. Be creative and use your vocabulary.
  • Tailor, tailor, tailor your resume to the job for which you are applying.
  • Select a format and stick with it. (For example, will you list dates by spelling out the months or abbreviating them? For each experience, did you use: Title of job, organization, city, state?)
  • Add items that would open a door for a good discussion in an interview (i.e. relevant coursework, projects, etc.)
  • Adding quantitative data offers specificity and credibility to your resume.