An effective resume is the foundation of every successful job campaign. Most students write their first resume when they are seeking internships or summer employment, but resume writing skills are equally important for seniors approaching graduation and alumni seeking advancement.

As most people know, the purpose of the resume is to summarize the key elements of your past experience that you would like employers to consider when you are seeking employment. Naturally, a resume needs to be revised periodically during your career to reflect changes in your qualifications. Keep in mind that a good resume alone won’t get you a job; however, it can help you get an interview and influence an employer’s perception of your skills and potential for a particular kind of work.

There are several standard formats for resumes, but most employers prefer the chronological format, which is outlined and illustrated below. A few students might prefer to use a functional format to call attention to particular skill areas. Additional information on various resume formats is available in the Career Development Center . The organization of the resume can be adapted as necessary to emphasize an individual’s most outstanding characteristics. In general, however, the resume should include:

IDENTIFICATION DATA: name, address (or two addresses–present and permanent), and phone number(s) (including area code).

OBJECTIVE: a single phrase expressing the specific type of employment you are seeking and/or the principal skills you want to use on the job. Some people prepare two or more resumes with different objectives. Once you formulate a clear objective, you can use it almost as a thesis for the remainder of your resume; only information that supports your career objective should be included on the resume.

EDUCATION: basic details about your education, including university location (city and state), degree, date of graduation (or expected graduation), major, related course work and (possibly) G.P.A. Most university students do not need to include information about secondary school, but it is important to summarize education attained through community colleges, other universities (i.e., transfer credits), and specialized training programs.

EMPLOYMENT: brief summaries of principle employment to date. Start with your current (or most recent) position and work backward. Include all employment relevant to your career objective in any way. Internships and cooperative experience can be listed either under employment or under education.

Provide the name of the employer, the employer’s location, your job title, dates of employment, and simple verb phrases to summarize your main activities on the job (see “action verb” list). When ever possible quantify and qualify data with specific details and statistics that illustrate your potential.

ACTIVITIES/HONORS/SPECIAL SKILLS: additional areas that may be included on the resume if space allows. List all major activities and awards as well as any skills that are relevant to your career objective. These can show leadership, organization, critical thinking, teamwork, self management, initiative and influencing others.

PERSONAL DATA: such as height, weight, sex, and marital status should not be listed on the resume. Such factors are irrelevant and cannot legally be considered in employment decisions.

REFERENCES: and, in some cases, portfolios or transcripts can be listed as “available upon request” if you have enough room at the bottom of the resume. Have references, phone numbers, and business addresses ready on a separate sheet whenever you go to an interview.

Remember to keep all information on the resume concise and clear. A one-page resume is best, although people with extensive experience or advanced degrees may have to use two pages. Be scrupulously careful when you proofread; some employers will refuse to consider candidates who submit resumes with spelling or typographical errors.


Verb phrases are the strongest way to describe previous job responsibilities. To write verb phrases, pretend you’re telling someone about your job, beginning each sentence with “I. . . . ” For example, “I supervise ten employees. I organize mass mailings. I arrange airline and hotel reservations.” On the resume, you omit the “I” and use only the remaining verb phrases to describe the work you do: “Supervise ten employees. Organize mass mailings. Arrange airline and hotel reservations.” Use present tense verb phrases for jobs you currently hold and past tense for former jobs. If you have any difficulty finding the right verbs to describe your work, choose from the following list:

accomplished achieved acquired acted adapted addressed adjusted administered advanced advised allocated analyzed applied appraised approved arranged assembled assigned assisted attained audited author automated balanced brought budgeted built calculated catalogued chaired changed clarified coached collected communicated compared compiled completed composed computed computerized conceptualized conceived concluded conducted conserved