Dept. of Experiential Education & Career Management
Resume Writing Tips
Employers usually take between 30 - 60 seconds to review a resume. Since you have less than a minute to grab an employer's attention, your resume must be more than a list of your education and experience. It should be a marketing tool and an extension of your personal brand.
You should view our Sample Resumes for inspiration, but here is a breakdown of the format recommended for college students and recent graduates, along with some tips to help you create the best resume possible.
College students' resumes must fit on one page. When you overflow to more than one page, it is time to weed out old information. Your resume is meant to prove your professionalism. There will be time later to prove creativity. Make sure not to exceed font-size 12 or go below font-size 10.
- Avoid using a script font, as it is difficult to read.
- Stick to black and white and stay away from pictures, unless you are applying for creative positions. Even though, you should use discretion.
- If possible, once you have perfected your resume, convert it to a PDF file so that the format isn’t altered when you email it. If you cannot convert it to a PDF, you should email it to some friends to ensure it is formatted properly when they receive it.
- Be careful when expanding margins, Make sure your resume prints fully. Proofread, proofread, proofread! Grammatical or spelling errors could wind up costing you the chance to interview.
This is your contact information. It should include your name, address, phone number and email address.
- Tip: Make sure your email address and answering machine message are professional, appropriate and current.
Many industry professionals would prefer NOT to see an objective. At this early stage of resume use, nothing is necessary between your heading and education. After graduation, if you feel you must put something here, they would prefer to see a Summary of Qualifications section.
Beginning with the most recent, this should include any college you have attended, with the location, the degree expected and your expected date of graduation. Your GPA and major area(s) of study are optional.
- Tip: Unless you have above a 3.5 it is best to leave your GPA off.
- Tip: Companies like to see what type of degree you are earning (e.g. BBA, AOS).
For students early in their college career or those without much related work experience, it is often appropriate to include a section of relevant coursework. Once you have gained enough experience this section should be the first thing taken off of your resume.
- Tip: Do not list all of your classes. Only include classes that are not reflected through experience and that are relevant to the positions you are applying for.
Beginning with the most recent, this should include the employer's name, city, and state, as well as your title and dates of employment. Describe 3-5 responsibilities and/or accomplishments, using no more than five bullet points to make your resume easier to read.
If you were a sales associate, it is recommended that you do not exceed three bullet points and do not include basic sales associate responsibilities. Keep your phrases brief and generalized (e.g. use "Exceeded daily sales goals" instead of "Sold merchandise to customers based on their style preferences") and do not use complete sentences. If you can, include achievements and things you were trained in (e.g. "Trained in Loss Prevention").
- Tip: Watch your verb tense! If you are still employed, use the present. If not, make sure you use past tense.
- Tip: Use different action verbs for every bullet point to make every word count.
- Tip: Brevity is key. Remember, as stated above, you only have 30-60 seconds to impress. If you bore someone it is likely they will not make it through your resume.
List any special work-related skills you may have, such as computer skills and language skills. This may also include more abstract skills such as organizational and communication skills.
- Tip: List only those skills you have mastered. Also, be honest about proficiency. If you have a working knowledge of French, say that instead of "fluent in."
- Tip: If you list any abstract skills, make sure you have a concrete example to back up your statement in an interview.
- Tip: Abstract skills should be removed from your resume when there is a need for space or when you have experience displayed on your resume that exhibits these skills.
These should show significant qualities such as leadership skills, the ability to work in a team, or initiative.
- Tip: Remember to DO things to build your resume: part-time jobs, college activities, volunteer work, etc.
Activities: If you choose to use this section it is suggested to only state organizations that you are an active participant in.
Interests: This section should only be used if you lack content. Sometimes this may spark a conversation in an interview, but it probably will not get you the interview.
Volunteer Experience: At LIM College, you will be offered many volunteer opportunities that you will be given the opportunity to network at. If you have an ample amount of this type of experience (e.g. dressing models at a fashion show) you should put these experiences on your resume.
- Tip: This section should not exceed your Work Experience.
Community Service: If you've volunteered at non-school related activities, this is the section to include them in.
Affiliations: If you are a member of any professional organizations, sororities or honor societies, you can include them in this section.
- Tip: Be prepared to speak about your involvement with these groups.
Keep in mind that you are not in high school anymore. The experiences you had in high school led you to where you are today. You need to continue your participation in college. Unless you had an unusually noteworthy experience in high school, you should not have high school involvement on your resume once you have entered your sophomore year of college.