Resumé Writing Tip Sheet

Click here to download this tip sheet with useful descriptive language suggestions for resumés in specific career fields.

Key Points

  • Tailor your resumé to each position.
  • Employers are interested in your skills, regardless of how you used or developed them. When writing bullet points, include details about challenges you addressed, actions you took, and results. Include numbers whenever possible. Some students use the APR structure (Action, Process, Results) to draft bullet points.
  • Use strong, descriptive verbs as often as you can, always in the simple past tense (i.e. verbs in -ed: developed, applied, managed, etc.)
  • You do not need to focus only on paid experiences. Unpaid experiences, activities and volunteer positions can often provide you the opportunity to highlight as much, or more, experience than paid work.
  • Employers decide in 15-20 seconds, whether or not a resumé is of interest. Front-load your resumé, putting your most relevant experience in the top third of the page.
  • Get feedback before sending out a resumé. Make a 1/2 hour appointment or come walk-in hours.

Sections of a Resumé

  • Contact section – often name, email and LinkedIn URL
  • Education – This is always your first section as a grad student. Include undergrad and other grad degrees, most recent first. Include academic awards and honors.
  • Experience sections – list/describe experiences most pertinent to the skills needed in a particular position
  • Additional skills/interests – include foreign languages, computer skills, fine/performing arts, etc.

What goes in the Experience Sections?

  • Within each experience section, list the name of the organization, location (mainly city/state, but if outside the U.S., include the country), your title, and the dates (in months and years) that you performed the work.
  • Use action verbs to describe your duties. Rather than saying “responsibilities included organizing” you’ll want to say “organized.”
  • Use present tense for ongoing activities, past tense for prior experiences.
  • Use paragraph format or bullet points to list information.

Formatting

  • Keep it to one page for the most part, unless you are applying in a research setting. Use white space to make the resume easy to read.
  • Use a common font between 10-12 points in size (except for your name, which can be bigger). Times New Roman, Garamond, Arial, and Verdana are all acceptable.
  • Format consistently. If you list your title first in one entry in a section, do it the same way for the rest of the listings in that section. Use consistent format across sections to the extent that is practicable.
  • Reverse chronology for items within each section, placing your most recent experience first.