Perfecting the Resume

No matter what opportunities you may be looking into, I bet there’s probably one constant item needed for your application: a resume. Many people seem to think you only need to have a great resume for internships or full-time positions, but everyone should always have a current resume accessible. Additional opportunities such as undergraduate research, scholarships and leadership positions might also require a resume in order to apply. It’s the first step (and first impression!) in many application processes, so let’s chat about how to perfect that one page document.

When it comes to building a stellar resume, there are two major things to consider: content and formatting. Maybe you’ve had some awesome experiences and are a great candidate for the opportunity, but if the content doesn’t reflect this, or your formatting makes it difficult to read, this message will not be conveyed to your audience.

Content

As you look at building or updating your resume, it’s important to first think about what you’re going to include. There are a few basic sections of content that should always be on your resume:

  • Contact Information: Name, address, phone and email. You want them to get back in touch with you right? Make sure you use an appropriate email address, this is not the place for URhottie94@hotmail.com.
  • Education: Include all institutions of higher education you’ve attended along with the degree you’re pursuing (or have earned) and anticipated graduation. Instead of listing your major, provide the name of your degree, for example “Bachelor of Arts in Sociology”.
  • Experience: Don’t just think about your employment experience. You can include things such as part-time jobs, internships, leadership positions, service, and research. Make sure the bullets underneath your experiences highlight leadership roles and focus on accomplishments so the reader can gain a true understanding of what you gained from that role.
  • Skills: If you have any specials skills like computer, foreign languages, lab skills, military experience or other relevant skills make sure that these are included.

Learn more about resume content and how to write great descriptions of your experiences from our Writing a Resume tip sheet, and use some vibrant action verbs to describe your work.

Formatting

While it’s important to have content that accurately conveys your experiences and why you’re a qualified candidate, it’s also vital that your resume is aesthetically pleasing for the reader. A few basics for your format:

  • Font: Many people use Times New Roman so feel free to branch out to something similar (but still professional) like Arial, Garamond, Tahoma, or Palatino Linotype. Make sure your size is between 12 and 10 point, and be consistent
  • Accentuate: Use CAPS, bold, italics, and underline to emphasize certain parts of your resume like section headings, names or organizations, or positions.
  • Consistency: Make sure that everything throughout the document is consistent. The margins, spacing in between sections, alignment of text and font size/style.

For more details and tricks take a look at our Resume Formatting Tips.

Another thing to remember in order to have a stellar resume is to make it relevant to what you’re applying for. Look at the position description or application information and think about what the major skills and traits are that they’re looking for in a candidate. Include experience and specific work that is relevant to the opportunity.

Once you’ve created or updated your resume, be sure to stop by walk in hours 2-4pm daily, or make an appointment a career advisor to have it reviewed!

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