Create a Resume in 5 Steps

1. Analyze yourself 

Effective resume writing begins with knowing what you have to offer. Start the resume writing process by brainstorming the classes you enjoyed, activities you have been involved with, leadership roles you have obtained, the jobs you have held, community service roles you have volunteered for, hobbies you enjoy, and accomplishments you have achieved. Review this information and identify groupings and/or skill categories. In the initial resume writing phase, all of your experience should be considered as potential insight and content.

2. Analyze the job description

Review job descriptions for the skills and qualifications employers have prioritized. Identify the skills most relevant for the position to which you are applying. As you identify what the employers in your industry of interest are looking for, review your list of experiences and consider whether you employed these skills.

3. Create descriptive phrases

Create short phrases to describe your job duties. These phrases consist of an action verb, project description, and results/outcomes. Avoid using phrases such as "responsible for" or "in charge of." Focus on the skills necessary to do the job you are seeking.

4. Construct a clean and precise document

Visceral appeal is important as your resume makes a first impression. Use formatting to help organize the document and draw attention to particular pieces of information. Ensure that you are using formatting in a consistent way throughout the whole document. Additionally, formatting expectations may differ depending on the industry, so make sure you understand the specific standards of your field. If you are an undergraduate student, condense your content to one page. If you are graduate student or a more experienced applicant, a two-page resume is often an acceptable option.

5. Have your resume critiqued by at least three other persons

Never underestimate the power of one misspelled word or a typo. Northwestern Career Advancement staff is available to critique your resume in walk-in hours or by appointment. In addition, seek the support of faculty, alumni or other business professionals.