Write a Winning Resume in Five Steps
Your resume is the most important document you will use in your job search. It is often an employer’s first introduction to you. Think of it as a marketing device, and follow these steps to ensure a winning resume:
STEP 1: Analyze Your Skills, Knowledge and Accomplishments
Carry out a thorough inventory of your qualifications. Begin by making a list of your work experiences (summer jobs/internships, co-op jobs, work-study, and volunteer positions), course projects, research experience, and leadership activities. Next, analyze each item on the list for skills acquired, knowledge gained, and key accomplishments.
STEP 2: Review Samples and Choose a Format that Appeals to You
College students are encouraged to use a “chronological” format or one that presents experience in reverse chronological order. Or, a “combination” resume might suit you in which you specify several broad skills headings, such as Computer, Leadership, and Design, in addition to your chronological work experiences.
STEP 3: Prepare a Draft of Your Resume
Consider the following headings:
Objective – This is a brief statement of the type of position you are seeking. While your statement should not be too broad, you might consider including two or three interest areas.
Education – List the colleges you attended and degrees you received/pursued. You are strongly advised to include your GPA if it is at least a 3.0 or above.
Experience – Arrange your most significant experiences first, and keep in mind that all experiences (paid positions, volunteer work, leadership, course projects) are important.
When preparing the statements to describe your experience, write clear, concise statements beginning with action verbs. Do not use pronouns or phrases such as “responsible for” or “duties included.” Consider the use of bullets to make the statements easier to read.
Skills – Include information related to your strongest skill sets or those most pertinent to the job you are seeking. Popular skills to include are Computer, Leadership, Design, and Languages.
Other Information – There is no limit to the number of sections you may include on your resume, but keep your resume to one page. You may wish to include additional section headings, such as Activities, Leadership, Presentations, Interests, Hobbies, Honors, Awards, and Community.
STEP 4: Have Your Resume Critiqued
The Career Center provides many opportunities for you to have your resume reviewed.
STEP 5: Prepare a Final “Visual” Version of Your Resume
The visual resume is simply the standard copy you will mail or hand to an employer.
- Use high-quality bond paper in neutral color like cream or white.
- Leave margins of 1/2” to 1” on all sides.
- Be sure that the type on your resume is at least 12 point in size.
- Be selective about what you choose to emphasize with bullets or bolding, etc. (If you emphasize too much, nothing will stand out.)
- Use a consistent format for each entry in a section, and organize each section in reverse chronological order (most recent first, and so on).
- Always proofread your resume carefully! It is your responsibility alone to be certain that there are no typographical or grammatical errors in your resume.
Also, when mailing your resume, it should always be accompanied by a cover letter in a large envelope. You should never fold your resume.