Your resume summarizes your past and current education, experience, activities and skills — and it’s what employers use most often to decide whether or not to interview you. Employers often take just 5–10 seconds to look at a resume, so make sure it does these three things:

  1. Highlights your accomplishments and qualifications
  2. Is well-organized and easy-to-read
  3. Is tailored to include the most relevant things to the position

6 Tips for a Great Resume

1. Create a “master resume” that has everything.

Write down everything from your past 3-5 years: education, coursework, jobs, internships, activities, skills, honors, publications, language skills, study abroad experiences and community-service projects. Use this master to create one or more versions for particular industries or positions. 

2. Tailor it to the job.

Think about what should be trimmed down, expanded, reordered or reworded to emphasize relevant items on your resume.

3. Show accomplishments rather than listing duties.

Focus on achievements or skills rather than routine job responsibilities. Avoid using “Responsibilities included” or “Duties included”. For each work experience or major extracurricular activity, frame it in terms of how you:

  • Improved a work process or increased the quality of a service/product provided
  • Expanded the scope of work completed to reach the organization’s goals
  • Helped increase the sales or profits of the organization or a particular event
  • Accomplished projects or tasks that were of value to others
  • Learned skills transferable to other environments, such as writing or problem-solving
  • Were recognized for your achievements or contributions

4. Use action verbs to describe your experiences.

Learn more about writing accomplishment statements >

5. Maximize your formatting for an effective presentation.

  • Font: Use an easy-to-read font such as Times New Roman, Arial, Calibri, Cambria, or Garamond.
  • Size: Stay between 10 pt. and 12 pt. Your name can be larger than 12 pt.
  • Margins: Ideal margins are .75” all around, and no smaller than 0.5”.
  • Style: Instead of using larger fonts for section titles, use bold, italics or capitalization. 
  • Email: Convert it to a PDF to preserve formatting, and name your file so that it clearly identifies the resume as yours.

6. Use “resume language.”

Resume language is clipped and usually does not include articles (a, an, the). There is no use of the first person pronouns (I, me, my). While it may be easy to fill your resume with acronyms and technical jargon, make sure it is readable to someone who may not be an expert (e.g. someone in HR). This is especially important if you are applying to positions outside of your current area. Avoid flowery or vague language and be specific about past experiences.