Craft a Strong Resume
A resume is a tailored document highlighting your skills, education, goals, and experience. It is a summary of qualifications for a job, internship, scholarship, or other opportunity. Employers will often spend far less than 30 seconds looking at each resume, so yours needs to stand out. The resources below will help guide you through the process.
Why Do You Need a Strong Resume?
- Your resume is a tailored document that conveys to a potential employer the skills, experiences, and qualifications you have for a position you are interested in pursuing.
- In most cases, your resume will be part of every job, internship, or graduate school application you submit.
- Your resume—along with your cover letter —is what will determine whether you are invited for an interview.
- Your resume is one of the few parts of the job search process over which you have 100% control. The effort you put into your resume also sends clues to potential employers about the level of effort you put into your work. If your resume looks like it was put together quickly with little attention to detail, what message might you be sending? Make sure your resume is excellent!
- Content and formatting matter. If you have great content, but your reader can’t easily make sense of it or find it, you won’t get invited for an interview. Likewise, if you have a beautiful document, but don’t articulate your skills and experiences effectively, you won’t get invited for an interview.
- Your resume should be one page. For nearly all students, the resume you submit for any job or internship will be one side of one page. That said, you can create a longer master resume that includes all your experiences and from which you can pull the most relevant information each time you apply for a position.
- If you're an advanced graduate student, you may, at times, submit a resume of no more than 2 pages.
- Use keywords wisely. Be sure to include keywords from the job description that can easily be picked up by an Applicant Tracking System (i.e. human resources software used by many organizations to collect resumes and organize the recruitment process).
- Learn more about Applicant Tracking Systems here.
- Use this article to learn how to write an resume that gets through applicant tracking systems.
- Your resume is a dynamic document. Continue to add to and edit your resume on a semesterly or annual basis as you gain more experience. If your career interests change, it is recommended you rethink how you convey your experience on your resume to align with your new field of interest.
Once you have a draft of your resume, stop by our office for a 15-minute resume review.
Drop-Ins are not available until the Fall
How to Write a Strong Resume
Start with a blank document. We don’t recommend templates as they become restrictive when you are trying to adjust formatting later. Then add each of the sections detailed below.
Use this worksheet to help you plan and develop your resume content.
First, add your contact information at the top of the page
Your name should be large (e.g. 14 pt font or larger)
Your contact information should include your email address, phone number, city and state (street address is not needed), and a personalized link to your LinkedIn profile.
To personalize your LinkedIn profile link, click on ‘Edit Public Profile & URL’ in the top right corner of your profile page. Edit your custom URL to your name.
Chestnut Hill, MA | 617-552-XXXX | firstname.lastname@example.org | linkedin.com/in/baldwineagle
Next, as a current student, your education section should be listed at the top under your contact information.
Information that should be included:
- Institution name, city, and state
- School or college, including study abroad institutions and graduate schools, where relevant
- Date of graduation (month and year)
- Major, if known
- GPA, if above a 3.0 or if required by an employer
Other optional information:
- Relevant coursework: You can share up to 5 classes that are relevant to the position to which you are applying. This is a great way to tailor your resume to a specific position and to show content knowledge that may not be reflected in your major or elsewhere on your resume.
- Academic honors or awards: e.g. Dean’s list (with dates) or other academic recognition can be included here
- High school can be included if space permits through sophomore year unless there is a compelling reason to keep it there (e.g. for networking purposes).
For most students, your experience section(s) will come after Education. An exception would be if the position description calls for key technical skills.
- Keep in mind that your experience is not just your paid experience. It can include jobs, internships, research, volunteer work, leadership, or campus involvement. You can choose how you title your experience section(s). Some ideas include: Relevant Experience, Volunteer Experience, Leadership & Involvement.
- Since you want your most relevant experience closer to the top of your resume, consider how you want to represent your various experiences. What experiences are most relevant in terms of skills gained and content learned to the positions to which you are now applying?
- Within each section, list your experiences in reverse chronological order by end date.
How to write strong bullet statements for each experience:
Great bullet statements will describe your achievements rather than tasks.
Start each bullet with an action verb, then demonstrate the value you added to your work by stating what you did (Project), how you did it (Action), and why you did it (Result).
- What was the project or task?
- What actions did you take? (think specifically about your individual contributions)
- What was the result or outcome of your contribution?
Cite numbers whenever possible to demonstrate the scope of your work (e.g. number of people supervised, number of children in classroom, size of event, budget you oversaw, etc.).
Following are some additional sections you may include on your resume:
Objective or Summary: For most students, this is unnecessary and simply takes up space. However, if you are looking to enter a field in which you have very limited experience, it can be helpful to include a short objective that articulates what you are seeking and can show that you are applying to a role with intent and purpose.
Skills/Interests: It is strongly encouraged to include a section on skills such as computer skills, languages, laboratory skills. For most students, this section will appear at the bottom of your resume, but for students interested in science and technology, see specific tips in the next section. Personal interests such as hobbies can be included if space permits.
Career Field-Specific Resume Tips
- When applying for a creative position, such as a graphic designer, web designer, or creative manager, it can be appropriate to have a creative resume designed in a program like Adobe InDesign.
- While a creative resume can include graphics and colors, it should still look professional and be easy to read.
- It’s a good idea to have a traditional version of your resume along with the creative one. Applicant Tracking Systems cannot always pull information from graphics or heavily designed resumes, so use a traditional resume when applying for a position online and save your creative resume to be emailed directly or to give to someone in-person.
- When applying to positions in the federal government, it is appropriate to submit a federal resume. Federal resumes are generally 2-5 pages in length and include more required information, including U.S. citizenship status, veteran’s status, the address and contact information for prior employers and supervisors, and specific USAJobs.gov job identification number.
- As the large majority of federal jobs are posted on USAJobs.gov, we recommend using the website’s resume builder for a step-by-step guide to craft your federal resume.
- List the number of hours worked during clinicals.
- List any non-clinical work or volunteer experiences you have had. This shows the recruiter that you are well rounded.
- It is critical to keep your Nursing resume to 1 page only.
- Additionally, if you have worked with any data entry system such as EPIC, list it under the skills section.
- Prioritize key technical skills, such as laboratory (e.g. PCR, gel electrophoresis, western blot, etc.) and statistical analysis software (e.g. R, SPSS, STATA, etc.), in the top half of the resume. This is especially important if the position description explicitly calls for them.
- Include a research experience section that outlines any on- or off-campus research you have been involved with. Be sure to include relevant achievements in the bullet statements.
- If applicable, include a publications section following the citation style most commonly used in that field of research.
- For teaching in the public schools, create a Licensure and Certifications section, just below your Education section. The title and contents of this section depend on the norms for the state in which you are seeking work. For Massachusetts, include your SEI Endorsement; your 51A Mandated Reporter Training; your MTEL results (if you have passed all of them, you do not need to list each one); and any other endorsements or certifications you have achieved.
- Create a category for Teaching and Related Experience, or break it up between two categories, such as Practicum Experience and Other Teaching Experience.
- Emphasize experiences with children with special needs; with English Language Learners; communicating with parents; using technology in the classroom, including remote teaching; using assessments to modify your teaching and improve student learning; and/or developing curriculum.
- Emphasize positive outcomes for your students - e.g. “collaborated with teachers to design and teach math units with an emphasis on encouraging students to build a strong foundation, explore the topics, and enjoy math.”
- View sample resume one and sample resume two.
- Include a projects section that outlines any personal or group projects you have been involved with to develop your coding skills. Be sure to include relevant achievements in the bullet statements.
- If applicable, include a link to your GitHub in the contact information section.
- In your heading beneath your name, include any theatre-related professional organization memberships such as SAG and AFTRA.
- For actors, include your physical description—height, weight, hair and eye color, and vocal range. Actors should also include a color 8 x 10 headshot with their resume. Singers should specify their notes.
- Theatre experience should be listed in column format:
- Column One: Name of play or movie.
- Column Two: Role you played.
- Column Three: Name and location of the theatre, the director’s name. You can save space by abbreviating "director" to Dir."
Can one word make a difference? Yes! Choose your words carefully when writing a resume. Strong action verbs provide power and direction. Start each line of your resume with an action verb instead of more passive words. Use keywords to make sure your resume gets noticed.
- set goals
- When you’re applying for a position, be sure to include keywords or skills from the job listing in your resume.
- Browse online job listings in your field. Words that appear consistently in a variety of ads are your "key" words. Company pages on LinkedIn are another good resource.
- Talk to professionals in your industry.
- Include at least four industry- or job-specific keywords in your resume. The ideal number is 12.
PROFESSIONAL SUMMARY: Award-winning corporate controller with more than ten years’ experience in two $500 million corporations. Impressive record implementing financial record database architecture that saved over $2 million annually. Proficient in Oracle, Prism, Red Brick, and SAP systems, as well as MS Project, Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and FrontPage.
Languages: C, SQL, C++, Assembler, Pascal
Software: Oracle Developer 2000, Informix NewEra, FoxPro
OS: UNIX, Windows NT/95/3.11, MS-DOS
RDBMS: Oracle7, Informix 7
*Pam Dixon, Job Searching Online for Dummies
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