Resume Rules for Students & Alumni
What Is A Resume?
A resume is a tailored document highlighting a person’s education, work experience, and skills. It is a summary of your qualifications for a job, internship, scholarship, or other opportunity, that represents your personal brand as a marketing tool. We suggest that you have a “master document” that outlines all of your past and current accomplishments. From there, you can pull the relevant information to create your polished, tailored document.
The purpose of a resume is to get the applicant a job interview by generating the employer's interest in the applicant and their qualifications for the position. Studies indicate most recruiters spend about 6 to 10 seconds reviewing individual resumes, so brevity (or length of your resume), along with organization and layout of information, are key considerations.
Applicant Tracking Systems
If you apply for a position using a common online job board (i.e., Indeed, LinkedIn, CareerBuilder, Monster, etc.) or through a company website, there is a strong possibility that your resume will go through an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) -- 98% of Fortune 500 companies use an ATS.
If you aren’t tailoring your resume by using keywords from the job posting, the possibility of an ATS giving you a low score is high.
- What does this mean? Your resume may never get to the hiring manager’s desk.
Ways in which an ATS narrows the applicant pool:
- Automatic Rating
- Assigns a score to applicants, by keywords
- Keyword Searches
- Company uses ATS to search for specific job titles, hard skills, proficiencies, and experiences by “keywords”
- Knockout Questions
- Assigns a score to applicants, by weighted questions
Create an ATS-friendly resume
- Keep it simple! No tables, textboxes, unusual fonts, and unconventional formatting
- Optimize your resume using exact keywords that match key terms, top skills, and titles of the job description for which you are applying
- Save your resume as .docx or .pdf
- Use appropriate abbreviations (Example: Required education is “MBA,” so put “Master of Business Administration (MBA)”
Resume Keyword Tracker Systems:
- Skillssyncer.com (free for military and college students for 1 year)
- Jobscan.co ($50/month for individual account)
- ResumeGo.com (free valuable feedback on your resume)
- Templates: Avoid resume wizards and resume software templates. They are difficult to edit and do not allow you to present information in the most effective format.
- Length: For college students and recent college graduates, use a one-page resume. Two pages are reasonable if you have extensive work experience; however, limit information to what is pertinent to your current job objective.
- Font: Choose a basic, easy-to-read font such as Times New Roman, Arial or Helvetica in 10-12 point size, except for your name (14-18pt. font). Use black ink.
- Paper: Use 8 ½” x 11” resume-quality paper in a light color such as white or off-white. Buy envelopes and cover letter paper to match your resume.
- Spacing:Margins of 0.5 to 1 inch and double-spacing between headings improves readability.
- Layout: Use bullets, bold, CAPITALIZATION, italics, and underlining sparingly to call attention to the most important information. Leave some white space to create an uncluttered look.
- Format: Present information in reverse chronological order. Common headings include: Education, Experience, Skills, Activities, and Awards.
- Professionalism: Eliminate all typos and misspellings by asking other people to proofread.
- References: List on a separate sheet using the same heading as your resume and the title “References”
- Your name will always be listed first, at the top of the page.
- To make your name stand out on the document, the font size for your name should be slightly larger than the rest of the text (14-18 size font).
- Include a phone number where you can be reached, preferably your cell phone. Be sure to have a professional voicemail set up.
- List a professional email address.
- Your email address should not be suggestive, flirtatious, generic, silly, or funny.
- It should include your name, preferably first name and last name.
- A U.S. resume does NOT include information such as marriage status, gender, etc.
- Do NOT include a picture on your resume. Instead, develop and use a LinkedIn profile and include a professional headshot picture there.
- Once you build your LinkedIn profile, consider listing your customized URL under your name.
- For current students and recent college graduates, your Education section will be located underneath the Header. More experienced professionals can include the Education section closer to the bottom of the page.
- List your most recently obtained degree first and additional degrees in reverse chronological order.
- Do not list high school information unless you are a freshman.
- Include the degree you are pursuing, your program, and anticipated graduation date (Month/Year).
- Make sure your degree information is correct! Check out your department’s website to ensure you provide the correct information. Additionally, DO NOT abbreviate the degree name (Example: Bachelor of Arts, not B.A.).
- In addition, you may choose to include study abroad, related coursework, Thesis/Dissertation, and GPA (if above 3.0) information.
- If you include related coursework, list full course names (not acronyms or course numbers) and choose courses that are relevant to the position for which you are applying.
You may include a general Experience section or use targeted sections, such as: Research, Leadership, Management, Volunteer, Relevant and/or Transferable Experience sections. Choose headings that will best group and highlight your experiences as they pertain to the position you are seeking.
- Within each section, list your experiences and activities in reverse chronological order with the most recent first. Do not limit this section to only paid work experiences! Experiences in this section can include work experience, internships, co-ops, job shadowing, volunteering, leadership roles within student organizations, military experience, sports team participation, and student teaching.
- For each experience or activity, include the organization or employer name, your title or role, employer location (city/state), and dates affiliated.
- DO NOT list the following on your resume, but have available for employment applications: company street/mailing address/zip code, supervisor name/phone number
- Provide concise explanations of your experiences and activities, focusing on your accomplishments and skills.
- Begin these descriptive statements with strong action verbs and omit all personal pronouns (i.e., I, my, we).
Resume Accomplishment Statements
Accomplishment statements are the bullet point statements under the Experience section of your resume that describe and quantify your achievements, results, and successes from your past work, internship, leadership role within a student organization, volunteer, military, student teaching and/or job shadowing experiences.
When writing these statements, many students simply list their roles, responsibilities, and tasks; while this is a good start, employers want to also know how you can contribute to their team or organization. In other words, don’t just list what your role was; also give specific examples of the impact you made and the value you added during those experiences.
|The following guidelines will help you start the process of writing strong accomplishment statements that highlight your qualifications and demonstrate your skills.|
Creating Accomplishment Statements: Tasks + Skills
- Customer service skills
- Took orders from customers and brought food to their tables.
Ensure every customer is satisfied with their experience by providing a high level of customer service.
Pitch Your Skills: Highlight transferable skills you gained from your past experience that your future employer will value (e.g. research, analytic skills, teamwork, communication skills, leadership).
Be Specific: Include relevant details that show the reader you are capable of making an impact in the organization.
Creating Accomplishment Statements: Tasks + Results
- Worked with a student leadership committee.
- Worked with a student leadership committee to increase member participation.
Led a 5-person leadership team to increase student participation by 100% from 50 to 100 members by creating a stronger social media presence.
Quantify your Impact: Before revision, bullets are focused mostly on describing activities, not outcomes. It is important to numerically measure what you accomplished through your actions
Contextualize Your Accomplishment: Provide a baseline for comparison to make it easier for recruiters to understand your accomplishment
Although the Header, Education, and Experience sections are the only required areas on a resume, you will want to add additional “Lagniappe” sections that demonstrate the unique skills and experiences that you bring to the role and/or organization and provide a richer picture of who you are professionally.
How much to provide here will depend upon the length of other sections, keeping in
mind that in most cases, resumes will be one page. Remember, a resume should include information that pertains to the position/organization
for which you are applying. Outlined below are examples of “Lagniappe” sections that
may be a great fit for your document.
- An Activities section, located near the bottom of the resume, includes membership in student organizations, clubs, professional associations and
- While volunteer experience can be formatted under an Activities section, it can instead be included under your Experience section, provided you articulate the experience gained from the activity.
- This section can be beneficial by allowing the reader to see a well-rounded individual.
- Remember, leadership positions (i.e., president, vice-president, board committee, secretary, etc.) within organizations can be included in the Experience section. (see example in Experience tab)
- Can include scholarships, honor roll (i.e., President’s List, Dean’s List), awards for specific activities or subjects.
- If honor roll (i.e., President’s List, Dean’s List) is included, semester dates or date ranges should be added.
- Write each certification in reverse chronological order, beginning with the most recently achieved or any that are in progress.
- Do not include less important or irrelevant certifications or licenses that you have that do not relate to the job opening.
- This section can be beneficial for students that have not experienced roles specific to the industry in which they are applying, but have taken courses that showcase specific knowledge within that field.
- Can include: group and/or individual class project(s), Capstone project(s), research paper/project(s)
- Many recruiters would argue that an objective statement is no longer needed on a resume.
- Why? Recruiters know your objective is to be hired for a role. The purpose of your resume is to demonstrate to the reader that you are a good fit for the position.
- An objective statement ismost effective if it provides clarification for the reader. For example, if you have a broad major (such as sociology or management), you are seeking an internship, or you are seeking a position that is not closely related to your major, you may consider using an objective.
- Presentations you add should be ones that took place outside of your workplace or institution, such as one held at a conference, not a presentation as part of your coursework.
- Format: Start with the title of your conference talk, followed by the name of the institution or conference at which you presented the information.
- Format: Include each publication in a new bullet point.
- List the year and title.
- Add the name of the magazine, website, or journals
- This section defines a list of technical skills including languages, programming languages, software, industry-related, etc. and is most effective when placed near the bottom of the resume.
- Pro tip: If included, state the level of proficiency for languages. (Example: Spanish, proficient)
- Using this section to add one word soft skills (i.e., organized, dependable, efficient, fast learner, etc.) is not advised.
- Hard skills are related to specific technical knowledge and training while soft skills are personality traits such as leadership, communication or time management.
- Both types of skills are necessary to successfully perform and advance in most jobs; however, soft skills should be embedded into the bullet point statements under a Skills Summary and/or Experience section(s) unlike hard skills that can be written under a Skills section.
- Why? Embedding soft skills with an experience gives credibility to your document. Anyone can say they have leadership skills, but can you prove it? (see Skills Summary examples below)
Skills Summary/Qualifications Summary
- A skills summary is different from a skills section because it is placed closer to the top of a resume and is most effective when it includes 2-5 bullet point statements.
- Using this section to add one word soft skills (i.e., organized, dependable, efficient, fast learner, etc.) is not advised. Instead, embed soft skills into your bullet point statements.
- When can adding this section be beneficial? For more experienced professionals with years of experience that tie together a common
theme to create a brand. Additionally, can be used to integrate eclectic experiences
with a set of key transferable skills. (Example: a current accounting student that
has food service, babysitting, and tutoring experience)
- In addition, it’s important that your skills summary is specific to the role for which you’re applying and includes keywords from the job description.
- Highlight the most important attributes you think will catch the recruiter’s attention.
- Be careful! This section can be redundant if not used properly. Adding this section can take up valuable space on your document, so it should not be used to repeat word-for-word what is under your experience section.
- Research your target audience
- What experiences and skills is the employer looking for?
- Find your fit and condense
- With knowledge of your audience (i.e., company, organization), identify your relevant skills and craft into bullet points that paint a picture of what you bring to the role.
“Lagniappe” sections can be placed under one heading when there is limited space on your document.
Technology: Google Meet, Zoom, Slack, Salesforce
Languages: Spanish, proficient
Activities: Delta Omega Alpha
Honors: Dean’s List, multiple semesters; President’s List, Fall 2019
“Lagniappe” sections can be separated if there is a need to get your document closer to one page.