General resume guidelines
- Generally, resumes should be no more than 1 page.
- The top 2/3 of your resume is the most important – make sure not to push significant or relevant experiences close to the bottom of the page.
- Experiences and awards should be listed in reverse chronological order within sections.
- Use bold, underline, italics, spacing, and caps to draw attention to key content.
- Use a readable and professional looking font such as Times New Roman, Garamond, Helvetica, Arial, or Cambria
- The most common font sizes are 10-12 point for the body and 12-14 point for headings.
- Margins should generally be .75 to 1-inch
- You can be flexible with margins, spacing, and font size to give yourself more space – just make sure the font and margin sizes look reasonable.
- Do not include references on a resume or state that references are available upon request. Employers will assume that references are available and will request them when appropriate.
- When submitting your resume, convert it to a PDF and give the document a descriptive title (ex. “Your Name_Job Title_Resume”).
- Use of color and graphics may be appropriate for some jobs and industries (most commonly creative positions), but not all. Pay attention to the culture of the jobs to which you are applying and use a corresponding resume style. Ask CLBR if you have questions.
- You should tailor your resume based upon the specific experiences to which you are applying. You should include the most relevant material and relate your skills and experiences closely to the job description.
- You can name sections to your advantage and use different sections on different resumes as you tailor the content. For example, for some jobs you might want a “Customer Service Experience” section instead of simply naming the section “Experience.” This is also a way to move older content that may be more relevant closer to the top of your resume.
- Proofread your resume carefully! Employers need candidates with attention to detail, and your resume is your chance to prove you have this skill.
- Keep in mind that attention to detail applies to formatting as well. For example, if you include a period after one bullet point and no period after the next point, this implies a lack of attention to detail.
- Write your name in big, bold letters. Include your phone number and email address.
- If you decide to include your address, only include the city and state where you are based. You can choose to include your school city/state and your home city/state if you plan to return there for the summer or after graduation and are looking for opportunities there.
- Write your email address in non-hyperlink format. Make sure it is a professional email address that includes your name and minimal numbers. If you are a senior, you will lose your Reed address so you will probably want to include a non-Reed address.
- If you use a resume template or look up resume samples, you will likely see an “Objective” section. However, objective and summary sections are becoming more and more outdated and can often distract from the overall purpose of your resume. There may be instances where these sections can be helpful, such as to tie together disparate experiences, so we encourage you to contact an advisor at CLBR if you have questions about how to write an effective objective.
- List your school’s name and location, type of degree being earned, major, and expected date of graduation (month and year). If you have already graduated, you simply need to write the month and year you earned your degree.
- Your Education section should be the first section on your resume (unless you choose to include the profile section above it).
- Other ideas for information to include in the Education section are relevant coursework, academic honors, study abroad programs, and your thesis (these can also be included in separate sections).
- It is not necessary to include high school after your sophomore year (you can also start leaving it off your resume before sophomore year).
- You can include other institutions of higher education that you have transferred from (community colleges, other 4-year institutions).
Experience (work, internship, volunteer, club, research, etc.)
- List your experiences – always include your position title, name of organization, location, and date range (month/year).
- Include bullet points underneath each experience where you describe accomplishments and skills gained. Each bullet point should start with an action verb, and also include the task plus one of the following: how it was accomplished, why you undertook it, or the result of completing it, making sure to include numbers when possible. There should be no first person statements.
Example of how an experience can be presented on a resume:
Position | Organization | City, State | Month Year – Month Year
- Action verb point
- Action verb point
- Action verb point
Writing Your Bullet Points
- Keep in mind that employers are more interested in accomplishments than duties.
- Compare these two points and see how the second is more descriptive and effective:
- Advertised events
- Increased attendance at events through initiating a new advertising campaign
- When writing your point, ask yourself these questions:
- What did I accomplish in my role?
- How did I contribute to the organization through my work?
- What skills did I gain in my role that are useful for the job to which I am applying?
- What do I want the employer to learn about me?
- Begin your point with the outcome/accomplishment/skill, and follow with other descriptive details (how you accomplished something or demonstrated a skill).
- Include numbers wherever it is helpful and appropriate (ex. size of a team you work with; number of participants who attend your programs; budget amount you are working with).
Action Verb Examples
These are some examples of strong action verbs with which to start your bullet points:
accelerated; accomplished; achieved; administered; advised; analyzed; applied; assembled; assessed; bolstered; compiled; conducted; constructed; consolidated; coordinated; counseled; created; defined; demonstrated; designed; developed; devised; directed; documented; enhanced; ensured; established; evaluated; executed; expanded; facilitated; formulated; generated; guided; headed; identified; implemented; improved; increased; initiated; installed; launched; led; mentored; motivated; negotiated; orchestrated; organized; originated; oversaw; participated; planned; publicized; prepared; produced; promoted; provided; reconciled; reorganized; represented; researched; resolved; revised; scheduled; selected; shaped; simulated; started; streamlined; stimulated; strengthened; supervised; taught; tracked; trained; utilized; worked; wrote
Involvement (community or on-campus)
- Involvement experiences can be included in an “Experience” section, or they can be included in their own section.
- You can list the experiences, or you can use the same format as in your Experience section where you include bullet points for each experience.
- A Skills section should include “hard skills” (think of these as skills that can be measured or tested). The most common examples are foreign language abilities, programming languages, software packages, statistical packages, and design software.
- Include proficiency levels with your skills – common terms for proficiency levels include advanced; intermediate; proficient; basic; knowledge of; experience with; familiar with.
Honors or Awards
- List awards you have received and when you received them.
- Include the context of the award, as readers not connected to the institutions that grant the awards will not be familiar with the accomplishment. For instance, if you list a scholarship, was it granted for academic achievement? Community service?
Resumes for research positions will include a research section and often a coursework and skills section as well. These should be closer to the top of your resume, after your Education section.
- Include research you have participated in. Reed campus experience counts, even if it was for a course.
- Include courses that are relevant for the experience to which you are applying.
- Remember to list course names instead of numbers, and also keep in mind that course names may not be descriptive to the reader.
- Include a brief blurb regarding what you learned from the course that is now applicable towards your next experience.
- List lab skills that are relevant for the experience to which you are applying.
- Include proficiency or experience levels, or examples of where or how you have used each skill
Please view the resume visual outline example to get an idea of how the information can look when it all comes together on one page.