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How To Write A Resume



Hey there Writing Center family, it’s Annie! Just a few weeks ago, I published a blog post on how to create a personal statement. While personal statements are a very important part of the applications, personal statements are not complete without a resume further expanding on the attributes of the applicant. Resumes operate as a detailed, concise list of the applicant’s most notable accomplishments, education milestones, and experiences. This list is usually the first application material that employers review when deciding whether or not to accept an applicant. Since resumes play such a large role in the application process, I wanted to use this blog post to provide you with some tips on creating your resume.


1. Choose a Format for Your Resume

To begin writing your resume, your first step is to choose a format. You have three types of resume formats to choose from: reverse chronological, functional or skills based, or a combination of both. Reverse-chronological resumes (pictured below) demonstrate the experience and work history of the applicant. The applicant lists their work history in reverse order, from their current or most recent positions to their older positions. Functional or skills-based resumes showcase the applicant’s skills and strengths and shift the focus away from the applicant’s experience. A combination of reverse-chronological resumes and functional or skills-based resumes uses aspects of both resume formats to demonstrate the strength of the applicants. While all three resume formats are useful, reverse-chronological resumes are the most common and will be the main focus of this blog post.


Reverse-chronological resumes are the most common format!


2. Design the Layout of Your Resume

After deciding which resume format you would like to use, you can create the layout of your resume. You can begin by deciding which sections you would like to use to organize the information in your resume. While these sections will be dependent on your experience and the position you’re applying for, you may choose to have sections for contact information, education, experience, skills, or more. Once you’ve selected your sections, you can organize your resume by ordering the sections and creating section headings. You can then follow these suggestions to finish the basic layout of your resume:

  • Create a left-hand margin and align your text

  • Stick to one or two pages in length

  • Choose an easy-to-read font, such as Times New Roman

  • Select the right font size, usually between 12-16 point text for section headings and 11-12 point for all other information

  • Avoid using more than two varying fonts

  • Create clear section headings

  • List everything in chronological order

  • Include enough white-space for the information to be readable


3. Add Your Contact Information and Personal Details

Once you have chosen the basic layout of your resume, you can begin to fill in the page with your details. You should begin with writing in your contact information and personal details at the top of your resume in a manner that is easy for employers to find. This information should include your first and last name, phone number, and email address. You may also choose to include your LinkedIn URL, address, personal website, blog, professional title, and any other relevant contact or personal information. However, you should not include your date of birth, unprofessional email addresses, or headshots (unless the employer requests a headshot in the resume).


Put your contact information at the top of your resume!


4. Add Your Education

Along with your contact information, your education is also an important part of your application. Under this section, you should include the name of your college, your degree, your major and minor, and the year you earned your degree or are expected to graduate. If your grade point average, or GPA, is above 3.0, you should also include it. In addition to this information, you can include your academic honors, on-campus activities, scholarships, awards, relevant coursework, study abroad participation, and major research


Add a section with your educational information!


5. Add Your Work Experience

Once you add in your educational information, you can add in your work experience. This section can include full-time, part-time, and summer jobs, internships, co-ops, volunteer work, special projects, and military experience. For each entry, you should include your job title / position, the company name, location of the company, and dates of employment. Underneath this information, you can include a concise summary of your responsibilities and achievements during this position in bullet points or a short summary. When writing these entries, you should avoid using “I” personal pronouns and start each statement with strong action verbs that describe your job details, rather than writing in complete sentences. You should also use past tense to describe past positions, and present tense to describe current positions. All your work experience entries should be ordered chronologically from the most recent position to the least recent position. You can consider breaking up your work experience into multiple sections, such as a professional experience section and a volunteer / service section.


Add a section with your work experience!


6. Add Additional Sections Relevant to Your Position

Depending on the requirements of the position you’re applying for, you may include sections in addition to your contact information, education, and work experience. You may, for instance, add a resume summary statement regarding your career. You could also include a skills section highlighting your soft and hard skills. To determine what additional sections you may need in your resume, you should read the job description and research common sections included in resumes for the position you’re applying for.


7. Fine-tune Your Resume

After you add all the important information to your resume, you can fine-tune your resume. To do this, you can check the readability factor of the document. Employers will only have a few minutes to quickly scan over your resume, so you should check that the font is easy to read, the writing is free of grammar and spelling errors, sections are easily differentiated from one another, the most important details stick out, the format and writing is consistent, and your story is easily told on the paper. You can also send your resume to others to gain an outside perspective. The Writing Center tutors have a lot of experience editing resumes and would love to help you create the perfect resume. You can come to us with a draft of your resume to receive suggestions on how to create your final draft. Even if you haven’t completed a draft, you can still visit the Writing Center to receive help on creating the layout of your document, deciding what information to include, dividing your information into sections, and more.


Stop by the Writing Center for additional help on your resume!