Developing Your Resume

Preparing to write a resume is an important step in the resume writing process. Taking some time initially to determine what should be included in a resume and how the data should be organized will help in developing an effective resume.

  • Record all of the experiences that might be significant to be included in a resume.
  • Determine which experiences relate the most to your career choice – These areas should be emphasized on the resume and other areas may be included if space allows.
  • Since an employer usually spends about 45 seconds initially scanning a resume, it is essential that related skills are listed closer to the top of the resume.


After determining the organization and content of your resume, focus on the actual writing of the resume. The following information will detail important aspects to include in typical sections found on a resume.

Suggested Resume Categories

You should select categories that highlight your skills for the specific situation.


  • Identifying information should always go at the top of the resume.
  • Includes your name, complete address, your email address, and your telephone number(s).
  • You can also include your URL in the heading if appropriate.

Note: Remember to check your outgoing answering machine announcement. Make sure your outgoing announcement is courteous and professional.

Objective/Career Summary

  • An objective should be specific, concise, and 1 to 2 lines in length.
  • Include the type of positions, the industry area, and your personal qualifications.
  • An objective should be used for clarification, especially if you are changing career fields.
  • A Career Summary can be used by someone who has more extensive work experience.
  • A Career summary identifies a career goal and summarizes previous work experiences, skill sets, and accomplishments.
  • Career Summaries are usually bulleted or written as a brief paragraph.


  • Outline information in reverse chronological order (most recent educational experience first).
  • Include the name of the school, location (city/state), your major and the dates you attended the school.
  • Include your graduation date (or expected date) as well as the type of degree, certificate or diploma received.
  • Once you are in college, you do not need to include your high school education.
  • Include your Grade Point Average (GPA) on your resume if your GPA is 3.0 or higher.


  • Include computer (software and hardware), business-related skills, or language fluency.
  • A computer skills section is essential on a resume.
  • List the programs individually instead of as a package (Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access instead of Microsoft Office).
  • Any knowledge of foreign languages should be listed and broken down by level of oral and written skills and should be mentioned separately.


Your work history should be listed in reverse chronological order, starting with your most recent experience first. Each experience should include the Position Title, Name of Employer, Location (City and State), Dates of Employment (Month and Year) and a Description (short action statements describing your duties).

Be specific in your descriptions. Describe the details or projects, reporting relationships and what you did. Recent graduates should describe participation in professional situations with appropriate descriptions such as summer work, internship, freelance or part-time work.

When describing a current job, action statements should be in the present tense while past positions should be described in the past tense. These descriptions are usually incomplete sentences that are bulleted to make them easy to read and always start with an action verb to provide an immediate idea of the types of skills being used. Qualify and quantify your accomplishments whenever possible. An example could be recruited and trained five new employees.

Activities/Honors/Professional Memberships

Activities, Honors, and Professional Memberships can be combined or listed separately. Items included in this area are usually listed on one line. If all activities and honors are connected to your current institution, you do not need to list it with the activity.



Resumes should be printed on high quality, letter size, cotton or linen/cotton paper a cream or white color works best. Cover letters and reference lists should also be printed on this paper.

Font and Margin Size

In order for a resume to be easy to read, font size should be between 11 and 12 with a fairly simple type of font. Some fonts you can use are Ariel, Verdana or Times New Roman. With the exception of your name, font size should be consistent throughout the resume. Margins should be at least .5 on the top and bottom and .7 on the left and right.


Most resumes of entry-level graduates should be limited to one page. Accomplishments and work experiences need to be rather significant before expanding a resume to two pages.


The resume format should be consistent throughout the document. All dates, locations, job titles, etc. should be in the same position for each description. The layout should be easy to read and allow for some spacing to ensure it is pleasing to the eye. Avoid using resume templates as it limits the editing, spacing, and font selections that may be used.

Different Versions

Create different versions of your resume emphasizing different skills and experiences if you are seeking employment in different types of fields. You also want to create different versions of your resume and cover letter to match each company you are applying to.



  • Proofread your resume and have three other people proofread it is well. Spell check cannot be relied upon and an error-free resume is essential. Resumes with errors are likely to be dismissed by employers.
  • Verb tense should be in present tense for any work or activity you are currently performing and in past tense for anything that you have completed.
  • Dates listed should always include the year, and, if you desire, the month, but do not include the actual day. Dates should be written in the same format throughout the resume.
  • Work status information such as citizenship, visa, or residency status may also be included on a resume.
  • Keep resume at one to two pages, in length in order to describe your key highlights and accomplishments to show you are qualified.


  • Street addresses, zip codes, supervisor names, and phone numbers are not necessary. City and state should be listed for each employer or school mentioned.
  • Age, sex, marital status, height, weight, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and personal photos should never be included on a resume. The only personal information needed should be your name, address, phone, and e-mail.
  • Hobbies or interests sections may be included on a resume if it relates to your field and space allows and should be a brief (2-4 items) list. Only list items related to your field of work or to the career area.
  • Salary information should not be included on a resume. If an employer requests a salary history or salary requirements, include a salary range that you are seeking in your cover letter.
  • Abbreviations other than GPA should not be used on a resume. Acronyms may be used if the title is first written out in this manner: Marygrove College (MG).
  • Parentheses should be avoided. If the information is important enough to have on your resume, it does not need to be in parentheses.


Before: Worked with businesses to carry out United Way fund-raising goals.

After: Partnered with more than 20 area businesses to raise $15k for United Way, exceeding the goal by 23%

Before: Helped accountants with various public accountings projects

After: Assisted accountants auditing $55,000 in accounts receivables for companies largest client

Before: Developed marketing plans to promote concert series on campus

After: Developed fully integrated marketing campaign distributed to 10,000 students resulting in 12% increase in concert attendance

Resume Rubric
  Resume should effectively land you an interview. Resume could land you an interview (borderline case). Resume is average, needs improvement to rise to the "top of the stack." Resume needs significant improvement and would be discarded during screening
Format This resume fills the page but is not overcrowded. There are no grammar or spelling errors. It can be easily scanned. This resume almost fills the page, but has some uneven white space. There may be a single spelling or grammar error. The font and spacing of this resume are not appealing and cannot be easily scanned. There are spelling errors and grammatical mistakes. This resume is either one-half page or two to three pages long. The font is too big or may be hard to read. There is more white space than words on the page. There are multiple spelling and/or grammar errors.
Education Section This section is organized, clear, and well defined. It highlights the most pertinent information and includes: institution and its location, graduation date, major, degree, GPA, study abroad (as appropriate), and any relevant course work. This section is well organized and easy to read. It includes institution and its location, graduation date, major, and degree. GPA and extra information, such as study abroad and course work are missing. Information such as institution and its location, graduation date, and major are included, but degree and GPA are not listed. This section is not well organized and there is no order to how information is formatted. This section is missing the most crucial information. Institution is listed, but not its location and graduation date is missing. The major is included, but not degree. No GPA is stated.
Experience Section This section is well defined, and information relates to the intended career field. Places of work, location, titles, and dates are included for each position. Descriptions are clear and formatted as bullets beginning with action verbs. (This section could be split into related and other experience.) Places of work, location, titles, and dates are included for each position. Descriptions are formatted as bullets beginning with action verbs, but are not detailed enough to help the reader understand the experience. Information does not relate 100 percent to the intended career field. Descriptions are not presented in bulleted lists that begin with action verbs. Instead, complete sentences in paragraph form are used to describe positions. Places of work are included for each position, but not locations, dates, and titles. There is no order to the descriptions of each position. Descriptions are not detailed and don't illustrate the experience. No locations and dates of employment are listed.
Honors/ Activities This section is well organized and easy to understand. Activities and honors are listed, and descriptions include skills gained and leadership roles held. Dates of involvement are listed. This section includes all necessary information, but is difficult to follow. Leadership roles within organizations are listed, but skills are not defined. Dates of involvement are listed. This section is missing key information such as leaderships positions held or dates of involvement. Organizations are listed; the organization, not individual involvement in each, are described. This section is missing—or contains very little—information. Organization titles or dates of involvement are not included, and there are no descriptions.