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Standard Resume Writing


A resume is usually the first bit of information a potential employer will receive about you. As your initial marketing tool, it should be designed to include the work experience that the employer may find valuable. One of the biggest mistakes people make when creating a resume is to include everything they have done. People are often reluctant to pare down their resumes because they feel everything they have done is important. When creating a resume, you must try to put yourself in the employer’s place and determine what they think is important.

  • Write one all-inclusive resume from which you can create one-page, job-specific resumes.
  • Research the organization to determine what they might find valuable.
  • Be honest about your experience.
  • It is essential to be clear, concise, and consistent.


A resume is a marketing piece, and may be the first point of contact for potential employers. 


  • Your resume should not be more than one page in length.

Font Style

  • The font should be simple and easy to read as well as consistent throughout. Try fonts like: Times, Palatino, or Arial.

Font Size

  • Font sizes should fall between the 10.5 and 12.5 range.


Use good quality bond paper and avoid colors that do not copy well.  


  • Pay careful attention to spelling, punctuation, and grammar. 
  • The spacing should be even and style choices should be uniform. For example: If your job titles are in italics with capital letters, make sure they are all that way.
  • Bold, italicize or underline important headlines (just don’t do all three at once – that’s overkill).
  • Create a bulleted list – not a paragraph formation – for job descriptions


  • Use concise phrases and avoid full sentences in your descriptions. 
  • Use present tense for current jobs and past tense for past jobs (e.g., draft, drafted).
  • Leave out personal pronouns like "I," "my" and "me."  Saying, "I performed" this or "I demonstrated" that is redundant.  Who else would you be talking about if not yourself?
  • Omit the articles "a," "an" and "the."  Instead of "Coordinated the special events for the alumni association," simplify it to say, "Coordinated alumni association special events." 
  • Take out terms like "assisted in," "participated in," and "helped with."  If you assisted in managing client accounts, simply say, "Managed client accounts." You can explain later what this role entailed. 
  • Change passive statements to active verbs. Saying "Coordinated client meetings" instead of "Ensured client meetings were coordinated" adds punch and clarity to a job description.
  • Exclude words like "responsibilities" and "duties" under job listings. Your resume should focus on accomplishments, not tasks.


  • Remember that spelling and grammar mistakes are unforgivable! Don’t rely on spell check.  Have at least two other people proofread your finished resume.

Extra Hints

  • Pay close attention to the employer's or recruiter's instructions for submitting your resume on each posting. What format should the resume be in and should it be embedded in an e-mail, e-mailed as an attachment, faxed or mailed? Do they want you to include a position code to help them identify the job you're applying for?
  • While you may be struggling to think of pertinent work experience you probably have more than you realize. For example, if you have worked in a retail operation, your skills and qualifications include customer service skills, dependability, accountability, the ability to work as a part of a team and experience in managing money. Many skills learned in part-time positions are quite relevant to the corporate world. Don't underestimate the skills you have gained.
  • Don't think that your schooling means nothing to an employer. Your computer skills will be particularly attractive and should be highlighted. You can also demonstrate your aptitude and strengths by project-specific examples of class work you have done. 
  • Don’t forget to include your volunteer and extracurricular experience. If you held an officer position in a club or fraternity/sorority, volunteered or took a leadership role in any other extracurricular organization, you have valuable experience to list.


Resumes come in a variety of basic formats. Chronological, functional, and combination resumes are most commonly used. Choose a format that suits your experience and the employer’s needs. Employers tend to prefer chronological over functional resumes, which can be great if you’re switching career paths, but otherwise make it difficult to determine when you worked where and can hide employment gaps.


Starts with the present or most recent job and progresses back in time. Brief bulleted descriptions, stressing achievements, given for each job.


Highlights previous work experience that has given you background experience for the job you are seeking. Information is separated into categories determined by function (Organizational, Managerial, Communication, etc). 


Uses elements from both the chronological and functional resume. 


In the following order unless noted:

Contact Info 

Include your name, permanent address, phone number, and e-mail address on your resume. If your personal e-mail address is not appropriate (ex. ""), set up a new account just for job searches.


In most cases, you should not include an objective on your resume. This information is better suited for your cover letter.  If you do include an objective, be sure it is detailed and informative, not just a generic statement such as, "to obtain office assistant position."


If your related work history is minimal, place your education before work experience. Education should be written in reverse chronological order. The date of graduation, degree received (or when it is expected to be received), and major field of study. You can include your grade point average if it is 3.0 or higher. You will want to draw attention to honors in some manner such as the use of bold, italics, or indentation.


List any work experience (paid or unpaid) that is relevant to the position you are seeking or that would be useful in communication skills or qualifications you developed through experience. This section should not be a "laundry list" of tasks performed at every job you ever had. Think in terms of what the employer needs. Employers may look for elements such as communication skills, promotions, training, supervision skills, and monetary responsibilities.  Try to describe specific accomplishments in your jobs, not just tasks.  If you have participated in significant community service or volunteer work, you may consider putting it in a separate section of your resume. This information can demonstrate leadership, social awareness, political savvy, and unlimited energy.


If you are fluent in many languages, include this as a separate section; otherwise, it should be included as a skill.


Adding one or two lines regarding additional skills not already mentioned, professional affiliations, club memberships, etc., may prove helpful in gaining someone’s interest. You should NOT include a physical description or personal information on your resume.


References should not be included on your resume. Employers will ask you for references if they want them. Therefore, you should always have a separate sheet of paper prepared which lists three references. Make sure you inform the individuals that you are using them as references. Include people who have had a positive experience with you. Your "References" document should be formatted the same as your resume with the title "References" clearly displayed.  The name, title, organization, address, phone number, and e-mail of each reference should be included.

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