How to Write a Resume
boston college career center
A resume is a concise summation of your skills, education, goals, and experience. Employers may spend as little as 30 seconds looking at each resume, so yours needs to stand out. Here are some tips on writing a good one.
Make a list of your activities
Include paid work, volunteer positions, internships, leadership and extracurricular activities. Depending on how much you have done, this list might go back a few years or more.
Write a paragraph about each important item on your list
Describe your accomplishments as well as your duties. For now, don’t worry about using "resume language."
Choose several items to highlight in your resume
What are your greatest strengths? And what are the skills required for the job or industry you’re applying for? Highlight the activities that demonstrate those strengths and attest to your ability to meet the needs of the job. NOTE: You may want to create slightly different resumes for different jobs.
Create the sections of your resume
Following are tips for creating the most common type of resume, a chronological resume. Browse our sample resumes to see examples of this style and others.
- Put your name in at least 14-point type.
- Include a professional-sounding email address that you check daily.
- Include a link to your LinkedIn profile and to your website (if you have one that is professional and appropriate)
Include an objective if it conveys the stated criteria for a specific job/industry. Experienced job seekers sometimes include a Summary of Qualifications section at the beginning of their resume. A summary should be specific, and it should include as many appropriate keywords as possible.
While you’re still in school, the Education section goes above the Experience section(s). If you are applying for an internship as a freshman or sophomore, include your high school below Boston College (space permitting).
The education section remains at the top of your resume if you have recently earned a graduate or professional degree.
Include your GPA if it is above 3.0. If you want to emphasize your academic training relevant to the job or internship, include a "Relevant Coursework" section where you list a few courses that are most pertinent to the position you are seeking. Significant honors and awards can be included as a sub-category of your Education section. So can study abroad experiences.
Drawing on the highlights you wrote in Step 2, choose a few sentences that encapsulate your skills, duties, and accomplishments at each job or activity. Don't limit yourself to paid work, especially if you are still in college or a recent graduate.
- Use action verbs and keywords in your writing.
- Include the results you achieved, the action you took, and the problem you faced. For example, “Coordinated three events to raise funds for a class trip to New York. Raised more than $2,500, 20% over goal.”
- Cite numbers to make your point (e.g. number of people supervised, number of children in classroom, size of event, budget you oversaw, etc.).
Leadership / Volunteer Work / Interests
You can either create a separate section to describe your extracurricular or volunteer activities, or you can include them with your work experiences.
Include a Skills section if you have specialized abilities or knowledge in areas such as computer systems and applications, world languages, or lab work.
Format your resume
Most employers spend only 20 to 30 seconds looking at each resume during the first read through, so you need to make an immediate impact.
- Condense your resume to one page (exceptions to this rule include nursing and education graduates).
- Leave approximately 1-inch margins and plenty of white space.
- Design your resume for easy skimming: emphasize important elements by using type elements such as boldface and italics, and use bullets instead of paragraphs.
- Proofread carefully and have a Career Center staff member review your final draft.
- Once your resume is final, turn it into a PDF and email it as an attachment.
If you send your resume electronically, it may end up in a resume database. Recruiters search these databases using specific keywords, so be sure you know the best keywords to include in your resume.