Crafting an excellent resume

Although we strive to always be positive, we'll start our resume-writing tips with a quick list of what NOT to do with your resume. Behold, 10 common resume mistakes:

Too long/wordy Poor grammar Vague Hard to read Misleading
No "punch" Misspellings Too short Poor design Poorly focused


So, what is the best way to stand out among hundreds of other resumes? Keep your resume to one page, use short phrases rather than complete sentences and paragraphs, and be specific. The following information should be included in your resume. We've also provided sample resumes for you to consider. Also remember you never need an appointment to walk in and ask for resume help in the Career Services Office.

What employers want and need to know

Heading
Let employers know how to reach you. Include your full name, complete mailing address, phone number and e-mail address.

Job Objective

Explain what kind of career you are looking for in one short phrase.

Education
They need to know your degree(s), discipline, date of graduation, GPA (if 2.9 or better) and name and location of college(s).

Skills
List all your skills that could relate to the job you're seeking, including any pertinent accomplishments with those skills such as awards or internships.

Experience
Include your work and project experience, detailing your duties as well as any specific accomplishments.

Honors & Activities
Employers want to know you're a well-rounded person who can relate to others. Include both academic and other honors and activities.

References
These may be provided on a separate page if your resume has already filled a page. Provide three or four references, with a combination of employers and professors who are familiar with your work habits.

The scannable resume

It's possible that your prospective employer will request a scannable resume. This means that it will be read with an optical character recognition (OCR) scanner and stored as a text image. Then when a position becomes available, the employer does a keyword search to find stored resumes that fit the bill. Here are tips to make sure your resume is selected:

  • Use keywords that apply to the job you want. Include them in your objective, course descriptions or skills listings, for example.
  • Use capital letters to emphasize important points. Bullets and italics won't help.
  • Use lots of white space.
  • Keep it simple - use standard fonts like Times New Roman, Courier, Arial or Universal.
  • Use 10 to 14 point font size.
  • Spill over onto a second or third page if you need to.
  • Use white or light-colored paper.
  • Send it in ASCII text format if you apply on the Internet.

Action words

Remember those English teachers who didn't want you to be passive? Here's one reason why! Your resume should include active verbs so you can accentuate the positive outcomes of all your activities and accomplishments. Here are some suggested words to make your resume more interesting and meaningful.

accelerated
accomplished
achieved
activated
adapted
addressed
adjusted
administered
advertised
advised
advocated
altered
analyzed
applied
appointed
appraised
arbitrated
arranged
assembled
assessed
assigned
attained
audited
awarded
balanced
broadened
budgeted
built
calculated
catalogued
clarified
conducted
consolidated
consulted
contracted
contributed
controlled
converted
convinced
coordinated
corrected
created
cultivated
decentralized
decreased
defined
delivered
demonstrated
designated
designed
determined
developed
devised
directed
discovered
distributed
documented
doubled
edited
eliminated
emphasized
employed
focused
forecast
formed
formulated
fostered
founded
fulfilled
furthered
generated
governed
guided
handled
headed
heightened
hired
identified
illustrated
implemented
increased
influenced
initiated
inspected
installed
instituted
instructed
integrated
interpreted
interviewed
introduced
invented
investigated
measured
minimized
mobilized
moderated
modified
monitored
motivated
multiplied
obtained
operated
orchestrated
organized
originated
overcame
participated
performed
piloted
placed
planned
prepared
presented
prevented
processed
produced
programmed
projected
promoted
proposed
proved
provided
restructured
reviewed
revised
revitalized
saved
scheduled
secured
selected
served
set
settled
shaped
sharpened
simplified
solved
spearheaded
specified
sponsored
spurred
standardized
started
stimulated
streamlined
strengthened
structured
summarized
supervised
supported
surveyed
sustained
systematized