Your résumé is an overview of your education, experiences, and skills and is used to market your strengths to potential employers. Before writing a résumé, identify what skills employers value by reviewing job descriptions of careers that interest you.
Setting up your document
- Length: 1 page for under-graduate students; 2 pages for graduate students
- Font Size: 10–12 point for body of résumé—use the same size throughout; 14–24 point for your name
- Fonts: Easy-to-read fonts include Arial, Book Antiqua, Calibri, Cambria, Centaur, Century Gothic, Garamond, Helvetica, Palatino Linotype, and Times New Roman
- Margins: 0.5–1 inches on all sides; ideal margin width is 0.75 inches
- Spacing: Single-spaced lines are acceptable, but use double-spaced lines between sections and experiences
- Alignment: Use left alignment; don’t justify the text
- Format: Use bolding and italics for emphasis and to help the reader quickly scan your résumé
- Bullet Points: Aim for 2–5 bullets per experience
- Numbers: Use numerals for numbers (6 instead of six; 30% instead of thirty percent) to make them stand out
- Order: In each section, list information in reverse chronological order (put your most recent experience first)
- Phrasing: Don’t use full sentences or personal pronouns (such as I, my, and our)
Building better bullets
Writing a bullet point goes beyond simply stating what you did; it requires highlighting a specific skill and how you used it. To do this, follow these steps:
- Make a list of each experience you’ve had, whether a volunteer position, full-time job, internship, or role in a student organization.
- Picture what you did on a typical day during a busy week. Select three to five words from the action verbs list to convey the skills you used that day.
- For each verb, ask yourself what you did and how you did it.
- Reflect on the significance of your work. Consider deliverables, impact, value, and results.
- Whenever possible, use numbers to describe the scope of your work.
Put these steps into practice using this formula:
ACTION VERB (skill) + TASK (what) + PURPOSE or RESULT (why or impact)
Here’s an example of how a student described his work as a server at the Main Street Café:
- Coordinated dinner service for fast-paced restaurant, which served up to 500 customers a night.
- Trained 15 new hires in restaurant policies, customer service skills, and problem-solving techniques to ensure superior customer service.
- Managed point-of-sale operations for customers to streamline the payment process.
A list of Action Verbs (PDF).