Resume Writing for Undergraduate Students
A resume is a potential employer’s first impression of you. It is your personal marketing statement. Remember, the purpose of the resume is to get an interview, not a job. Therefore, tell the employer only what they need to know to want to meet you, and organize it in a way that is clear, easy to read, and quickly shows how your skills match their needs.
Recent studies show employers will scan your resume in approximately 14 – 21 seconds. With limited time, your job is to show them efficiently how you are qualified and why you should be interviewed.
- Tailor the resume to the specific job; the resume may need to be changed slightly for each job
- Put the most relevant information in the top 1/3 of the resume
- Use reverse chronological information (most recent is first)
- Use bulleted action verbs
- Be consistent in format and content
- Make it easy to read and follow
- Use a basic, readable font like Arial or Times New Roman, size 10-12 point
- Use spacing, underlining, italics, bold, and capitalization for emphasis
- Include enough white space
- Limit the length to one page whenever possible
- Use 8 1/2 x 11-inch bond paper in white, cream, or gray with black print
- Error-proof your resume
- Use a laser or letter quality printer
- Use PDF when sending resume via email to preserve formatting
- Use personal pronouns
- Number or letter categories
- Use a picture
- Include age, sex, or religion
- List your references on your resume
For recent graduates or those still in school, your education has been your full time job, so this information should go first. Include: type of degree, concentration, GPA (if it is above a 3.5), academic honors, and date of graduation or expected graduation. If you have graduated, only put the month and year you graduated, not the span of years. You may also include information about projects that directly relate to your career objective.
List pertinent experiences (for the job you are applying for) in reverse chronological order. This experience can include paid work, summer jobs, internships, volunteer work, and school activities and organizations. Include name of the company, city and state, dates employed, your job title, and a brief job description. Your description should emphasize accomplishments and major responsibilities.
Start with accomplishment statements in bullet format. Begin each accomplishment statement with an action verb in the past tense (if you are no longer there). If you have just a few relevant accomplishments at a company, you can use sentence format instead of bullets.
Activities and Affiliations
List colleges or professional affiliations such as EMCOMM, The Beacon, and WERS only if not already listed under RELEVANT EXPERIENCE. Indicate offices held and achievements related to these activities. Avoid listing religious or political affiliations unless they are key roles or directly relevant to your objective.
Include languages in which you are a fluent or a native speaker as well as your computer skills and other equipment expertise.
List any hobbies or interests that might add interest to your resume. Be specific about categories. For example, instead of listing music, specify which type (jazz, rock, classical). This category of information is optional and more appropriate for a first resume. Better to include than interests are team activities. For example, “soccer” is good, but ‘Women’s Intramural Soccer” is better. “Jazz” is good, but “Member of jazz quartet,” is better. (Note: Interests are rarely used for graduate student and alumni resumes.)
There are several main resume formats commonly used. A chronological resume format is usually the best option for undergraduate and graduate students as well as many alumni. It describes each job in reverse chronological order (most recent job first).
Resume language needs to be:
- Specific rather than general
- Fact-based (quantify or qualify – use numbers and dollars when appropriate)
- Skill, not task based – i.e., not “answer phones” (task) but “provide customer information over telephone” (skill)
- Articulate, not “flowery”
- Value added – make sure each word counts!