Here’s a quick and simple guide to creating an effective resume that allows you to communicate your skills, contributions, and experiences to employers.
1. TWO RESUME TYPES
Decide the resume style you prefer to use, based on the message you want to convey to employers:
Chronological – Highlights information starting with the most recent. This method is most commonly used among students and is recommended for your first resume.
Functional – Highlights information by placing them in skill categories (e.g. sales experience, design experience).
2. FORMATTING YOUR WORD DOCUMENT
Keep the following rules of thumb in mind when preparing the resume:
Margins – Top: 0.8″ – 1″; Sides and Bottom: 0.5″ – 1″.
Font Size and Style – 10-12; simple, readable fonts (e.g., Calibri, Georgia, Arial, Cambria, Times New Roman.
Balance – Make sure there are no excessive white spaces on your resume.
Length – Undergraduate level – 1 page; Graduate and Ph.D. – 2 pages; Education, Nursing and Medicine can have more than one page.
Order – Heading, Objective (if needed), and Education are listed in that order, before any other sections.
3. HOW TO ORGANIZE CONTENT ON YOUR RESUME
The top two-thirds of your resume will contain the most important content on your resume.
The sections you feel an employer would want to see should go first (e.g. your Projects section may go before your Experiences section).
4. CREATING YOUR HEADING
What you need in your heading:
Name, which should be bold and in a larger print (14-20 font size). CAPITALIZATION of your name is optional and can be used to substitute bold text
Permanent and/or current addresses (listing both signals a transition, e.g., graduation)
One professional email address. Your Purdue email address works well. Make sure is does not look like a hyperlink (e.g., email@example.com).
One reliable telephone number
You do not need to label contact information e.g., Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
5. WRITING AN OBJECTIVE STATEMENT
Note: You do not need an objective statement if the employer knows which position you are applying for (e.g., an online application to a specific role). For career fair resumes always put an objective statement on your resume.
Elements of an effective objective statement
Role Type (internship, co-op, full-time, or part-time)
Desired professional field or role (e.g., cyber security, marketing intern)
If internship, include desired semester (e.g., summer 2015)
Example: “To obtain an internship in accounting for summer 2015”
It is not necessary or expected that you highlight your skills/expertise in the objective statement. Additionally, avoid stating what you hope to gain from this position, it may not create the best impression on a potential employer.
6. THE EDUCATION SECTION
Include the following in your education section:
Name of institution and location, e.g., Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
Official name of degree and major, e.g. Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering
Concentrations, Minors the line below your major, e.g., Minor: Literature
Month and year of graduation (expected/anticipated or past); you do not need to explicitly state that the graduation date is expected/anticipated, a future month and year is sufficient.
(Optional) overall and/or major GPA and scale, e.g., 3.59/4.00 (do not round to one decimal place).To GPA or not to GPA
Omit high school information, unless 1) freshman or 2) significant or related to field.
Study Abroad experience may be placed in the Education section or may be placed in a separate Study Abroad section. A separate section is recommended if you wish to add details about your experiences abroad.
7. ADDING YOUR EXPERIENCE
This section allows you to showcase your employment, volunteer and school experiences that relate to your desired objective. You may have a single experience section or multiple sections to highlight those experiences specific to your field (e.g., Engineering Experience) and those unrelated to your field (e.g., Professional Experience).
Potential titles for this section: Experience, Professional Experience, Related Experience, Relevant Experience, (Insert Your Field) Experience
Core Four: Include the company name, position held, month + year of start and finish, city and state (country is not in U.S.).
Emphasize the relevant skills, specifics accomplishments/contributions that you can bring to the company you are applying for.
Do not mention names of previous supervisors or advisors on your resume (that goes on the Reference Page).
Construct impactful bullet points for your experiences using the Bullets Formula
8. HOW TO INCLUDE RELATED OR RELEVANT COURSES
If you want, you may include those course that you feel set you apart from other applicants, and make you a more attractive candidate.
List atypical courses to emphasize exposure to related subjects/skills.
Consider including courses taken as part of your concentration, minor and/or electives
Do not include required courses for your degree since all of your major peers are taking those courses as well.
Do not include course numbers (e.g., MGMT 351) as they do not mean anything to an employer (unless the took the same major at Purdue!)
Similarly, you may include technical/language skills that are relevant.
Potential titles to consider: Technical/Computer Skills, Language Skills
Microsoft Word and PowerPoint are considered universal skills and are expected by employers, you do not need to include them. Only mention any Microsoft Office programs if you have extensive knowledge in using them (e.g., model-building or scenario-analysis in Excel)
Indicate your level of proficiency and be sure you can use them “on the job”.
“Soft” skills like communication, leadership, and teamwork should not be included in a skills section. They must be shown though your experiences.
Skills Section Examples:
Design Skills: Adobe Photoshop (Advanced), InDesign (Proficient), Illustrator(Proficient)
Language Skills: Spanish(Fluent), French (Proficient)
10. ADDITIONAL SECTIONS
Depending on your background, you may want to add additional sections to your resume:
Certifications or Licensure
Leadership Experience (very impressive to employers!)
Activities/Extracurricular Involvement or Student Organization
Community Service or Volunteer Activities
Photographs, marital status, salary requirements, age, race, national origin, visa status, or references should not be included on or with the resume
“References Available Upon Request” should not be listed on a resume. An employer typically only asks for references after an interview and expects references to be available regardless of whether you mentioned references on your resume or not.