Your resume is a reflection of you and showcases how your skills, knowledge, and abilities from prior experiences meet the needs of a new opportunity.

There are four sections in this topic:

  • Content,
  • Format/ layout
  • Professional image
  • Reference

You will compose a resume that is specific to an opportunity by using the information that you generate from activities such as:

  1. An analysis of the job posting, and
  2. The self-assessment of your skills, knowledge, abilities, and prior experiences as they relate to the requirements.

Your resume is essentially a historical document that summarizes your experiences and education. However, not all of these details will be relevant to every opportunity. It is important to select the information for your resume based on:

  • Who is your audience?
  • What are their needs, what are they looking for?
  • How can your resume best respond to their needs?

When writing CONTENT for your resume, refer to your skills, values, education, past experience, and knowledge as accomplishments rather than duties and responsibilities.

To write accomplishment statements, use the STAR method.

Situation: give an example of a situation you were involved in that resulted in a positive outcome

Task: describe the tasks involved in that situation

Action: talk about the various actions involved in the situation’s task

Results: what results directly followed because of your actions

For Example: '"typing 50 WPM" is a skill, but if phrased as "Typed a 50 page report that was required for production by 5pm" it is an accomplishment.

Some tips for good accomplishment statements:

1.  Keep your accomplishment statement to one sentence in length.

2.  Begin with a past tense action verb (i.e.: initiated, coordinated, gained, developed).

3. Do not write your statement in the first person or include personal pronouns (e.g.: I, my, he, she).

4. Make sure you write the result of your action clearly, if applicable, numbers and statistics provide a strong impact.

FORMAT: Since your resume is a changing document and will continue to evolve over time, your writing approach will vary. When starting your career in a new field, you may need to use more skills-based language to create your resume. This approach best profiles your previous experiences and demonstrates your understanding of the opportunity. Once you have experience in your field (e.g.: work, volunteer, academic), it will be reflected in your resume through task-based language. Hopefully, you can see the benefit, at the beginning of your career, for using skills-based language.

For example, put the material you want highlight at the beginning. Describe what you have done, but more importantly what you have learned. Include volunteer/paid work and personal interests. Use a resume format appropriate to your skills and discipline.

The three standard types of resumes are:

  • Chronological: places your skills within the context of your history in reverse chronological order. Demonstrates your skill development and expansion as well as career progress.
  • Functional: places your skills under major functional headings such as “Management Skills, Leadership, and Sales and Marketing.” Demonstrates key competencies and is usually most effective for those who are changing their focus and wish to emphasize their transferable skills.
  • Combination: highlights both your experience and abilities. Generally the combination resume lists past experiences in reverse chronology with the associated skills and knowledge grouped into functional areas instead of listed under each experience. It follows the chronological format, but, like the functional resume, it groups some information together for emphasis.

Most students will choose a chronological resume format and add some elements. Below are the key components of a resume. While these components are fairly standard, their order and arrangement are up to you. Generally speaking, position your strengths as they relate to the position at the start of the resume. So, if your volunteer work best reflects your skills for the position sought, place that section ahead of your formal experience.

A resume generally includes the following:

  • Personal Information Block
  • Name
  • Address
  • Contact Information
  • Objective
  • Skills & Certifications (general and discipline specific, professional development, events, conferences)
  • Education
  • Experience (volunteer and formal)
  • Scholarships and Awards
  • Professional Affiliations
  • Activities and Interests
  • References Upon Request (this is prepared on a separate sheet and usually provided during the interview)


  • The visual impact should be positive making your resume easy and inviting to read.
  • Clear formatting that aligns the amount of white space with black space to ensure your valuable information is noticed.
  • Consistent use of font. Use only one plain font, for example; Times New Roman, Arial, or Helvetica no smaller than 11 point.
  • Appropriate and consistent use of bullets, bolding, underlining, italicizing. Limit the use of italics, brackets, and underlining as they don't fax or scan well into a database and make the resume more difficult to read.
  • Include page numbers and your name on the second page of your resume (for example, in a header and/or footer).


  • Effective use of headings and labels.
  • Proper and effective grouping of relevant content and information in categories.
  • Format each section similarly to help the reader process your information.
  • Utilize a "Skills Summary" section at the beginning to provide a quick overview of your skills.

Overall Impression

  • Consistent look and feel throughout the resume and with the cover letter. For example, create a personal information block and use the same one for the cover letter. Another way to ensure consistency is to use the same paper for both your resume and cover letter.
  • Be creative but avoid attention-getting gimmicks such as photos.
  • Ordinary, white paper is acceptable, or you may use better quality, higher grade paper.
  • Do not print your resume on dark paper may be difficult to read and will not photocopy or fax well.

Resume Writing Style

  • Be consistent with the language throughout your resume.
  • One typo can reduce your chances of success by 70%, therefore edit furiously. Ensure there are no typing, spelling, grammar, capitalization, and punctuation errors.
  • Use active verbs to indicate achievements.
  • Be concise in your writing and avoid overusing the pronoun "I".
  • Use relevant and effective word usage that is appropriate for the employer and their needs, for example, use full sentences.
  • Be consistent in format and style. For example, if you describe previous experiences in the past tense, do so with all of them.