Resume Building Guide

Your resume is generally the first thing any potential employer will see, so it’s crucial to make a good impression. The goal of your resume is to present a description of your qualifications for the position, including your skills, education, accomplishments, and past experiences. A well-written and well-organized resume can lead to an interview; however, a poorly written and unstructured resume won’t. Read below to review the common components of a resume

Resume Sections

While there is no mandatory format for resumes, it’s important to remember that a potential employer has many to view in a single day, and so yours won’t usually get much time. That’s why readability is key. Put your most relevant qualifications first—for most students and recent graduates, this will be your education, then list your most relevant and recent experiences next.

Contact Information

  • Include formal name, phone number, and professional email at the top of your resume. Address is optional, and at most include a city, state to indicate that you are a local candidate.

Photo (Do not include in the US)

Objective (Not recommended)

  • The objective statement is a traditional resume element which we no longer recommend, as the information in it can be better communicated elsewhere.

Summary of Qualifications (Optional)

  • A summary is not recommended unless your resume doesn’t make it immediately clear what field you’re trying to enter—for instance, if you have no work experience or are changing careers, a summary might be appropriate.
  • If you include it, the summary of qualifications should be short and to the point, highlighting only your most significant accomplishments.

Education (Commonly First Section)

  • Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, Edinboro, PA (use the full name of the school)
  • List formal degree title (e.g. Bachelor of Science), concentration(s), focus, minor(s), and graduation month and year
  • Include overall GPA if it is 3.20 or higher; use two decimals for GPA and do not round

Work/Internship Experience

  • Provide name of the employer, your job title, and the dates you worked there (e.g. January 2020 – March 2021)
  • Unpaid work/internship experiences can be included in this section
  • Even if your work experience is not relevant to your field (e.g. food service/retail positions,) it’s best to include your most recent 1-3 positions, and place this section below any relevant experience
  • Include bullet points describing your major achievements and responsibilities in the role
    • Use the following format: Action verb + skill/context + result
      • e.g. “Designed and implemented an SQL database which optimized workflow for developers”
      • e.g. “Created promotional materials using InDesign and Adobe Photoshop which increased sales by 15%”
    • Whenever possible, use specific numbers such as percentages, quantity of people, dollar amounts
    • For positions that have ended, use the past tense of the action verb. For current positions, use the first person present tense (no ‘ing’)

Relevant Coursework/Projects/Research Experience

  • This section is particularly important if you don’t have any industry-relevant work experience.
    • If this is the case (e.g. you’ve only held customer service positions but you are searching for a job in computer science,) this section(s) should appear before your work experience
  • If including projects or research experience, one format you can use is “Project title, dates” followed by bullet points
    • For projects or research, format your bullet points as above: Action verb + skill/context + result
      • e.g. “Researched the history of flight and presented information in an age-appropriate way to a group of 15 elementary school students”
      • e.g. “Developed a web app with a group of 5 peers, learned project management skills, and published on the App Store”
  • If you are not including projects or research experience, you can use the following format for Relevant Coursework “name of class 1, name of class 2, name of class 3, etc.” without course numbers

Campus/Community Involvement/Volunteer Experience 

  • These are sometimes referred to as “extracurricular activities” and are college, community, and professional organization memberships and leadership positions
  • List your title/role (can be “member” if you did not hold a leadership role), organization name, and location (city, state or “Edinboro University”)
  • When including volunteer experiences, make sure they are relevant, recent, and sustained experiences
  • Include bullet points detailing participation in these organizations/positions using the Action verb + skill/context + result formula

Skills

  • Include technical skills related to your industry, such as software programs (e.g. Microsoft Excel), technical skills, foreign language fluency, etc.
  • Do not include “soft skills” such as leadership, teamwork, or communication—these are better demonstrated in your bullet points above

Honors & Scholarships (Optional)

  • Include unique or prestigious scholarships, honors, and awards

Resume Tips

  1. Create an “Everything Resume.” Track all work, volunteer, academic, and campus experiences on one document. Don’t submit this resume to employers, but use it as list for tailoring the resumes you will submit.
  2. Customize your resume for each position/company. Use the job description to identify skills and keywords that are relevant to the role, and include these in your resume (only if you genuinely have those skills!)
  3. Keep it to one page. Try not to exceed one page unless you’re applying for graduate school or are in an advanced stage of your career. For entry-level positions, employers rarely read beyond the first page.
  4. Simpler is better. Unless you’re in a creative field such as graphic design, keep your layout minimalist. Use traditional fonts and balance your text with white space. Ensure your formatting is consistent between sections.
  5. Don’t use a template. Using original formatting will make your resume stand out.
  6. Use short phrases. Short phrases stand out and save space. Employers don’t spend long reading each resume, so it’s important to catch the eye immediately.
  7. Proofread! Proofread! Proofread! If you’ve proofread your resume and still need help, consider submitting it to the Center for Career Development here.