Career Services  
Resume Basics

First impressions are critical and employers often spend less than 30 seconds scanning a resume. A resume is more than a succinct summary of your skills and abilities; it is the marketing tool that convinces an employer that you are the product they have to have!

What is a Resume?

A resume outlines your education, abilities, experiences and skills as they pertain to your career goals. You may use a resume when applying for an internship, employment, graduate school, or organizational leadership positions.

Make your resume work for you! 

A great resume will:

  • Be concise, consistent and easy to read
  • Emphasize significant accomplishments and potential contributions
  • Focus on the skills and requirements as related to a specific field or position

Tip:  Clear, organized, error free document = Careful, neat, well-organized professional. 


Steps to a Great Resume


  • Evaluate your skills, interests, and experiences. This can include various elements such as education, jobs, internships, activities, honors, language skills, and community service. Create a rough outline. This should cover the past three-to-five years.

Tip: Blank page syndrome?  Start listing everything and anything that you have done regardless of relevance.  Sometimes you just need to get started without the pressure of writing a ‘Resume’. 

Do your research

  • Beyond the job description and requirements, research the company website for what they value as an institution. Look for ways to highlight and align your experiences with their mission, quarterly information, or even community outreach projects.
  • If you don’t have a specific job yet in mind, start by visiting job-posting sites. Review job descriptions to discover keywords. These can be industry buzzwords, acronyms or items in the employer requirements section. If your resume includes important keywords, it is more likely to be selected.

Tip: Only use keywords and list items and industry language that you are prepared to discuss in an interview.


Use a reverse chronological resume format; organized so that the most relevant information appears closer to the top.

  • Font: Use an easy-to-read font such as Times New Roman, Arial, Calibri, Cambria or Garamond.
  • Size: Stay between 10 pt. and 12 pt. Your name can be larger than 12 pt.
  • Margins: Ideal margins are .75” all around, and no smaller than 0.5”.

First draft

  • Review the sections of a resume and guidelines before you start writing. Use common headings such as Education, Professional Experience, Honors and Awards.
  • Be concise. Express your qualifications and accomplishments succinctly. Use the STAR method to form accomplishment statements: Situation/Task/Action/Result
  • Students and recent graduates should stick to 1-page. If you have extensive experience, or are applying for graduate school or academic fellowships, you may create a 2-page resume or a CV.
  • Don’t include your picture, age, gender, religion, political affiliation, ethnicity, marital status, social security number, references or salary expectations/history.

Before you hit send

  • Evaluate to ensure you have efficiently conveyed the right skills, abilities, and accomplishments.
  • Proofread. Proofread. Proofread. Spelling, capitalization or punctuation errors are 100% unacceptable.
  • Finally have your resume reviewed by Career Services and others within the field.

Save in multiple formats

  • Create a PDF. Convert your Word document version into a PDF to retain the original formatting when sending as an attachment. Save as yourname.pdf.
  • Keep your resume template as a Word document to update and change as needed for future use.