What is a resume?
Your resume is an important tool to market your experiences to prospective employers. It is a professional, written document that communicates your education, work experiences, and skills related to the type of position you are seeking. The resume you use to apply for a particular position should address the skills and qualifications outlined in the job description. Your resume is a fluid document that should continually change from one application to the next, and should transform as your experiences grow.
1) Make a list of your experiences including education and training, jobs, internships, research, projects, volunteer, leadership, student organization, etc.
2) Think about what you contributed, what skills you used and developed, and your significant achievements.
3) Begin to craft your resume by organizing these experiences into sections (examples below).
A resume should always include your contact information, education, and experience. Additional resume categories described below are common sections that may enhance your resume.
Include your name, present and/or permanent address, telephone number, and email address. If you are an international student, we do not recommend including your international address. Be sure your name stands out by making its font size larger.
A brief statement that indicates what type of position you are seeking. It may also include what key skills you bring to the position, the type of industry you want to work in, and the company you want to work for. When applying for a specific position, tailor your objective to match the qualifications of the job description and address the company’s needs. If an employer requests a resume and cover letter, an objective statement is probably unnecessary as you are addressing your qualifications through the cover letter you submit. If you chose to include an objective statement make sure that it is well written and enhances your resume.
Examples of Objective Statements:
- To obtain a mechanical engineering internship with XYZ company that will use my design experience and technical skills.
- Seeking a research and development internship with a biotech company that will allow me to use my skills in communication, analytical thinking, and problem solving
Include all institutions you have attended and are currently attending in reverse-chronological order (most recent first). Include the degree you are seeking, university name, college name, city and state of the university, your expected graduation date, and GPA. Coursework, academic awards, and study abroad programs may also be included in this section. It is not necessary to include high school information unless there is something pertinent to the position you are applying for or you do not yet have a college GPA.
Your skills section should include any tangible skills, such as language, technical, and laboratory skills you have developed that are most relevant to the position you are applying for. Consider including your level of proficiency as well. When compiling this list, think about the techniques you have learned in your classes, labs, and work experiences that may be valuable in future positions.
For each experience, paid or volunteer, you want to highlight the most important aspects of the experience that are relevant to the job you are applying for. Include your title, the organization name and location, and dates of employment. Then create a bulleted skills statement by following this format: Action Verb + Details + Result (when applicable).
To format, begin with a bullet point, then use an action verb that describes the skill used (e.g. “created,” “researched,” “analyzed,” etc.) and summarize your duties, accomplishments, and projects. Whenever possible describe the results of your efforts. For an extensive list of strong action verbs and transferable skills found in our Undergraduate Resume Guide, click here and go to pages 4-5.
Example of skills statement: Demonstrates Management Skills
Weak skills statement: “In charge of front desk”
Strong skills statement: “Supervise five front desk workers which includes managing projects, creating schedules, and conducting performance evaluations”
Avoid using personal pronouns such as “I” and make sure your verbs are in the correct tense (past tense for past experiences and present tense for current experiences). List your experiences in reverse chronological order (most recent first). Consider creating specific experience sections to highlight different types of experience, such as “Related Experience,” “Research Experience,” “Leadership Experience,” etc.
A project section can describe individual or group work you’ve done to demonstrate your ability to apply learning to real-life problems. Think about major projects you have complete in your work experiences as well as classes, and what aspects of these projects employers want to know about most.
This section can include involvements with student organizations, volunteer experience, and professional associations. Include the organization name, dates of participation, and possibly a bulleted statement to explain a leadership role or accomplishment.
Provide references only if you are requested to do so. List references on a separate sheet of paper that matches the format of your resume and cover letter. Include the name, title, organization, address, city, state, zipcode, phone number, and email of 3-5 people with whom you have a professional relationship. Sometimes it is beneficial to include the nature of your relationship if it is not obvious from your resume. Before listing someone as a reference, talk to the people you have chosen to be references before you give out their contact information to potential employers. Provide your references with a copy of your resume and keep them updated as you search for jobs.
Tips for formatting your resume
- The length of your resume will depend on your level of experience and qualifications. Generally, a bachelor’s level candidate should stick to a one page resume.
- Avoid using a resume template. This does not allow the opportunity to personalize and to make changes—and your resume is an ever changing document. Templates are easily spotted by employers, and they are often missing certain information you should have on your resume.
- Your resume should be well organized, without spelling errors, and easy to read. An employer spends an average of 20-30 seconds scanning your resume—it is imperative that the employer clearly sees the most important qualifications.
- To organize your resume, you may choose to use bold, italics, all caps, indenting, and bullets. You will want to use these sparingly to emphasize the most important information. Avoid pictures, graphics, non-black ink, shading, and symbols instead of traditional round solid bullet points. Be sure the formatting choices you make are completely consistent throughout your entire resume.
- It is a good idea to start with a one inch margin on each side. You can expand the margins if need be. Your font size should be between 10-12 point, and you will want to choose easy to read font styles, such as Times New Roman, Arial, or Garamond. Keep your font size and style consistent throughout your resume (except for your name which should be a larger size).
- Present your resume on quality bond paper (20 pound)—stick with white or off white to ensure your resume is easy to read.
- If you are filling out an online application where you cannot upload your resume directly, keep the format simple when filling in the required information.
- If you are requested to submit your resume via email, save your resume and cover letter (if applicable) as attachments. Include a brief note in the body of the email stating your purpose.
Tips for resume writing
- Be sure that your resume is a unique and personal document. It is a great idea to look at examples of resumes, but also important to make it your own. Please see resume examples provided on this website as reference, and check out the “Resume Examples Binder” in the CCSE resource center.
- There are some suggestions that we provide when writing a resume, but there are also options and room for choice. If you give your resume to several people, they may all give you different feedback. Beyond some of our strongly suggested guidelines, resumes are subjective.
- Be 100% honest and factual. Do not round your GPA, as the University of Minnesota lists GPAs out to three decimal places. Avoid abbreviations.
- Organize your resume so the most important information is at the top.
- Do not include a work history. Rather, include your most related experiences or those where you demonstrated a high level of skill.
- Personal information, such as marital status, age, height, weight, birth date, test scores, etc. should not be included.
- Avoid personal pronouns (I, my, we) and complete sentences to describe your experiences. Start your statements with action verbs.
- References are a separate document from your resume. Reference documents should include your contact information as it appears on your resume. List the name, title, company name, address, phone, and email of each reference.
- Always proofread your resume. Do not solely rely on spell check. Some employers may eliminate candidates based on errors.
- It is suggested to tailor your resume to the job description. You may have more than one version of your resume depending on the positions you are applying for. Employers may do a key word search of the resumes submitted to find those that meet the job requirements.
- Remember that your resume is YOUR marketing tool. Many times it is an employer’s first impression of you. It is also a work in progress that you will continually revise.
- Visit www.ccse.umn.edu to view our Resume Writing Workshop
- Visit the CCSE Resource Center to view our Resume Examples Binder and related books
- Have your resume reviewed by a CCSE Counselor. You can email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’d like to meet with a CCSE Counselor to discuss, you can make a 30-45 minute appointment or stop by during Walk-In Counseling (paper copy only; no laptops).
Resume guide and samples