Resume Guidelines

Goal: Clearly Demonstrate Your Ability To Solve The Employer’s Problems

“This Is Just What We’re Looking For!”


  • Understand the problem – Be a problem solver
    • Analyze the job description
    • Imagine the situation
  • Be able to do most of the job
  • Take the employer’s point of view
  • Show problem-solving ability:
    • Education
    • Experience
    • Personality
    • Skills
  • Make it easy to find what’s important – know what’s important to whom

Basic Guidelines

  • Be accurate
  • PROOFREAD! Spellcheck does not count
  • Maximum impact, minimum words
  • Guide the reader with formatting
  • List everything in order of your strengths
  • Do not include personal information or references

Style Notes

  • Make sure grammar is consistent and correct
  • Use keywords throughout your resume
  • Quantify when possible
  • Be crisp and succinct
    • omit needless words
    • omit first person pronouns (I, we)
    • omit articles (the, a)
  • Use action verbs
    • omit helping and being verbs (have, had, might, is, am, are, were)
  • Omit items that:
    • don’t count or could be used against you
    • have negative connotations
    • are just for your ego

Resume Construction


  • Name as you wish to be addressed
  • Mailing address
  • Phone number where a message can be left
  • Email


  • This is the opening argument; the rest is the “proof”
  • List your strengths for the position in 4 bullets or less
  • Be mindful of overt and implied meanings
  • Do not repeat what you said in the cover letter


  • List month/year of graduation; use clear English notations (“with distinction”, etc.) instead of Latin praise (“cum laude”, etc.)
  • List relevant coursework when you have a strategic reason
  • Indicate if you worked fulltime while attending school
  • Use bolding to highlight areas of focus
  • Include meaningful honors and affiliations
  • Don’t include High School unless you have a specific reason
  • Beyond a few years past graduation, leave off the year of graduation and your GPA
  • Include professional development if appropriate (software training, etc.)


  • Put things in order of importance to the employer!
  • State accomplishments and evidence of problem-solving as well as tasks
  • Create separate sections to allow you to group what you want to highlight first
  • Include both paid and unpaid experience, if relevant
  • Be strategic in what you highlight – title, company, etc.
  • Explain what the organization does if necessary
  • Don’t include irrelevant tasks or things you don’t want to do
  • Reword job titles to make them more descriptive of what you did
  • Quantify results when possible: “improved overall office efficiency”, “improved volunteer loyalty”, “reduced customer response time”


  • Skills: List in order of importance to the employer; omit those that are clearly irrelevant or outdated
  • Honors: Include relevant honors (can also put in education section instead)
  • Leadership: Volunteer, community service and college extracurriculars; list leadership roles;
    if substantial, list under experience
  • Misc: If not a US citizen, state here, and specifically state you are authorized to work in the US

Some Words about Words

  • Use the language of your target industry – don’t confuse them with jargon they will not know or care about.
  • Use exciting words! Work to find the right word for each sentence.
  • Borrow words and phrases that say what you want to say, but take care not to mimic others’ resumes.
  • Think of words the prospective employer would use to describe your accomplishments.
  • Read the company website and articles written by people that work in the company you are targeting to find words.

Formatting Tips

  • White space makes the resume easier to read – don’t cram!
  • Use bullets, not large blocks of texts – employers first skim then read – they will skip over blocks
    • Max 3-4 bullets in a section with 1-2 lines each; create sub-sections if you need more
    • Create sub-sections based on job description requirements
  • Create Section Heading titles that allow you to put the most important information first
    (International Experience, Engineering Experience, Additional Experience)
  • Be consistent in headings, dates and spacing; be sparing if you mix fonts
  • Pick a typeface that is easy to read
    • A serif font can sometimes be easier to read than a san serif font
    • Use between 10-12 font size; never less than 10
  • For printed copy
    • If you have two pages, at the top right of pg. 2, include your name and “page 2 of 2” in a smaller font
    • Use regular white paper
    • Use black ink
    • Never staple your resume

Submission Tips

  • Attach as .pdf unless directions state otherwise
  • Do not use special characters or italics (just bold) for formatting if you think your resume will be scanned
  • Add your cover letter as page one of the resume if you want to attach only one document and it will not be scanned