Resume Writing

A resume is a synopsis of what you have to offer an employer for a particular job. Its purpose is to organize the relevant facts about you in a written presentation, which will serve as your personal advertisement. Your resume must indicate WHO you are, WHAT kind of work you can do, and HOW you are qualified.

Contents of a Resume

Identifying Information - your name, address, telephone number and e-mail address. If it is updated, consider adding your personalized LinkedIn URL. Usually both local and permanent data should be indicated. Consider including your personal URL (if appropriate).

Summary of Qualifications – should, in a generalized way, highlight the most directly related information for the position. Recommended to use bulleted format using staring phrases such as Experience with, Proficient in, Familiar with, etc. Last bullet can be Related coursework includes: and should never be more than 2 lines. Also a great area to include skills (computer, technical, research, laboratory, foreign language), certifications, etc. relevant to position.

Educational Background - list of colleges and universities attended, dates, degrees, diplomas, and certificates with emphasis on highest-level achieved and special training pertinent to your job objective. List your major(s) and any concentration. You may also include your GPA (above 3.0) and any academic honors received at each school. Don't include high school information.

Relevant Experience - indicate dates of employment (month and year), name of employer, city and state, title of each position. Describe your major duties and responsibilities and relate any notable achievements (e.g. promotion) and/or skills developed. Use action words to attract attention to your skills and accomplishments (refer to the action verb list in this handout). You may want to have one section for related experience and a separate section for other experience. Employment relevant to your stated job objective should be elaborated on; that which is unrelated, including part-time, should be mentioned briefly.

Campus Involvement – this is inclusive of clubs, organizations, professional memberships and affiliations, or community activities. Be sure to mention any leadership positions held.

Optional Categories - military record, licenses/certifications, publications, major projects (e.g. research), additional experience

Resume Dos and Don'ts


  • Tailor your summary qualifications to include elements of the job description for each position you are applying for
  • Focus on the specific results of your work, significant achievements, and recognition received
  • Use action verbs such as “created” or “coordinated”
  • Get feedback from several people, including a Career Advisor
  • Have somebody proofread your resume for spelling/grammatical errors
  • Describe all related experiences — paid, unpaid, and volunteer
  • Use readable and common fonts
  • List information in order of importance and relevance to the requirements listed in the job description


  • Use phrases such as “Responsibilities included” or “Responsible for”
  • Use resume templates
  • Include routine job duties such as “making copies”
  • Use paragraphs
  • Submit the same resume to every employer

Resume Description Writing

Need help getting started? Try the APR (Action, Project, Result) formula:

Action Verb:
“zooplankton and limnology samples”
“to help monitor the health of the water system and measure the effects of invasive species”
 “Collected zooplankton and limnology samples to help monitor the health of the water system and measure the effects of invasive species”

Key Action Verbs for a Resume

Start sentences with action verbs, not "duties included" or "I was responsible for". Verbs should be in the past tense for a job that is over and present tense for a current job. The following list Key Action Verbs should be used to accentuate tasks, functions and achievements when describing work and other experiences.

Resume Checklist

_____ Name: big and bold
_____ Address
_____ Email Address: appropriate and checked often
_____ Phone #: voicemail activated and appropriate

Qualifications Summary:
_____ In a generalized way, highlight the most directly related information for the position from your resume
 _____Use bullets with staring phrases such as Experience with, Proficient in, Familiar with, etc.
_____ Last bullet can highlight relevant coursework that is specific to the position applying for
_____ Include skills (computer, technical, research, laboratory, foreign language), certifications, etc. that are         relevant
_____Tailor to each internship/job posting

_____ Institution name: spelled out
_____ Anticipated graduation date
_____ Degree and major
_____ GPA (if above a 3.0)
_____ Honors: specifically Dean’s or President’s Lists along with the corresponding semesters
_____Additional institutions, if applicable

Related Experiences:
_____ Internships (paid and unpaid)
_____ Volunteer experiences
_____ Educational experiences: fieldwork, research assistant

Each position should include:
_____ Employer/organization
_____ Title of position
_____ Location of experience: city and state
_____ Dates involved: month and year
_____ Bullet points on what you did in position
_____ Current position: use present tense
_____ Old position: use past tense
_____ Use action verbs to start the bullet point
_____ Order positions by chronological order

Other sections to consider including:
_____ Leadership
_____ Campus Involvement
_____ Volunteer Experience
_____ Professional Memberships
_____ Certifications
_____ Additional Experience

_____ Have someone proofread your resume
_____ Easy-to-read font and clear layout

Resumes for Federal Jobs

The Federal resume is not the same as a private industry resume. It averages 4 pages (for experienced professionals); it MUST match a target announcement to stand out and eventually get referred to a supervisor. Federal resumes must include month and year for experiences; list up to 10 years of details about supervisors and salary; education and certifications listed in details (if you have that many year or much experience). You can find information about Federal positions here:


 For Best Results:

  • Use the resume builder on to create your resume; edit your resume before submitting
  • Read the vacancy description carefully for all duties and qualifications
  • You must show that you have the minimum listed requirements – more is better
  • Review specific instruction to any status that may apply to you: student, disability, and veteran

Items to Include in a Federal Resume

Job Information

  • Announcement number and title and grade(s) of the job you’re applying for

Personal Information

  • Full name, mailing address (with zip code), and day and evening phone numbers
  • Veterans preference (if applicable a 00-214 is required)
  • Reinstatement eligibility (if requested, attach SF-50 proof of your career or career-conditional status)
  • Country of Citizenship (most federal job require US Citizenship)


  • College or University: Include name, city and state, majors, and any degrees awarded (only send college transcripts if the position specifies to do so)
  • High School: Include name, city and state, and date of diploma or GED

Work Experience

  • Read the qualifications section of the announcement carefully
  • Provide the following information for your paid and non-paid work experience related to the job you are applying for: job titles (include series and grade if a federal job); duties and accomplishments; employer’s name and address; supervisor’s name and phone number; starting and ending dates (month and year); hours per week, and salary. Indicate whether your current supervisor can be contacted.
  • Focus on the most recent and relevant positions. Add accomplishments; separate the accomplishments from the duties. Include the duties first, then a short list of accomplishments
  • Add the keywords from the duties and qualifications section into your resume
  • Highlight key skills in ALL CAPS or bold to improve readability in the builders

Other Qualifications

  • Job-related training courses (title and year)
  • Job-related skills, i.e. languages, computer software/hardware tools, machinery, etc.
  • Job-related certifications and licenses (current only)
  • List job-related honors, awards, and special accomplishments, for example, publications, memberships in professional or honor societies, leadership activities, public speaking, and performance awards

Writing a CV or Curriculum Vitae

What is a Curriculum Vitae?

Also called a CV or vita, the curriculum vitae is, as its name suggests, an overview of your life's accomplishments, most specifically those that are relevant to the academic realm. In the United States, the curriculum vitae is used almost exclusively when one is pursuing an academic job or applying to graduate school. The curriculum vitae is a living document, which will reflect the developments in a scholar/teacher's career, and thus should be updated frequently. (Other countries prefer the C.V. to a resume for a job search - do your research).

How is a CV different from a resume?

The most noticeable difference between most CVs and most resumes is the length. Entry level resumes are usually limited to a page. CVs, however, often run to three or more pages. (Remember, however, that length is not the determinant of a successful CV. You should try to present all the relevant information that you possibly can, but you should also try to present it in as concise a manner as possible.) A more subtle but equally important distinction is that whereas the goal of a resume is to construct a professional identity, the goal of a CV is quite specifically to construct a scholarly identity. Thus, your CV will need to reflect very specifically your abilities as a teacher, researcher, and publishing scholar within your discipline.

What should be included?

Your CV should include your name and contact information, an overview of your education, your academic and related employment (especially teaching, editorial, or administrative experience), your research projects (including conference papers and publications), and your departmental and community service. You should also include a reference list, either as part of your CV, or on a separate page.

What comes first depends both on your background and on the job for which you are applying. Typically, the first item on a CV for a job candidate directly out of grad school will start with the candidate's education listed in reverse chronological order. Frequently the title and even a brief description of the dissertation will be included in this portion. After that, you will want to determine both what the jobs that you are interested in require and where your strengths lie. When determining what comes after your educational credentials, remember that the earlier in your document a particular block of information comes, the more emphasis you will be placing on that block of information. Thus, the most important information should come first. If you are applying at a research university, research projects, conference presentations, and especially publications become very important.

If you are applying to a liberal arts college or community college that strongly emphasizes teaching, then showing your teaching background is of paramount importance. In any case, you will want to be sure that the information that will be most helpful in determining your qualifications for the job for which you are employing comes before information that will be less helpful.

Standard Format?

One of the most important things to remember when working on your curriculum vitae is that there is not one standard format. There are different emphases in each discipline, and a good CV is one that emphasizes the points that are considered to be most important in your discipline and conforms to standard conventions within your discipline.

So how can you find out what these conventions are?

A good place to start is to find as many examples as possible of CVs by people in your discipline who have recently been on the job market. You can find these by asking other grad students and junior faculty in your department if you can have a look at their CV's, and you can also make use of the Internet to find CV samples in your discipline. You can also find an additional example here.

One caveat to remember regarding examples, however, is that they should never be used as models to be followed in every detail. Instead, they should be used as sources of strategies for how to present your own information most effectively. The most effective formatting for you will likely be distinguishable from the most effective formatting for someone else because your experiences and strengths will be different, and you will thus benefit from formatting adapted specifically to your situation.

How should I construct my work description entries?

Short, brief phrases are acceptable in a resume - you do not need to use complete well-constructed sentences. In fact, it is better if you don't because then you can present your information as clearly and concisely as possible. For example, instead of writing, "I taught composition for four years, during which time I planned classes and activities, graded papers, and constructed exams. I also met with students regularly for conferences," you might write, "Composition Instructor (2010-2014). Planned course activities. Graded all assignments. Held regular conferences with students." By using incomplete sentences here, you cut out unnecessary words and allow your reader to see quickly what you have been doing.

Consistency is very important. Generally, you will want to keep the structure of your phrases and/or sentences consistent throughout your document. Thus, if you use verb phrases in one portion of your CV to describe your duties, try to use them throughout your CV. Particularly within entries, make sure that the structure of your phrases is the same so that your reader can understand what you are communicating easily.

One distinction between the work description sections of resumes and CVs is that bullets are very commonly used in resumes and tend to appear somewhat less frequently in CVs. Whether or not you use bullets to separate lines in your CV should depend on how the bullets will affect the appearance of your CV If you have a number of descriptive statements about your work that all run to about a line in length, bullets can be a good way of separating them. If, however, you have a lot of very short phrases, breaking them up into bulleted lists can leave a lot of white space that could be used more efficiently. Remember that the principles guiding any decision you make should be conciseness and ease of readability.


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