How to Create a Job-Winning Resume

The resume is your most important job search tool. Your resume should effectively summarize your education, experiences, and accomplishments in a way that demonstrates your qualifications for the position you are seeking. Your resume may have a variety of sections, but should at least include the following sections: Objective or Summary of Qualifications, Education, Honors,Work Experience and Activities.

In developing a resume, you are encouraged to:

  • Pay careful attention to spelling, grammar, punctuation, and writing style
  • Organize information in a logical fashion
  • Keep descriptions clear and to the point
  • Limit to one page if possible
  • Use a simple, easy-to-read font

Use good, high quality, 100% bond paper that is white or off-white. Do not print on both sides of a page. Include your references on a separate page. Remember, your resume is your introduction to who you are and what skills you can offer an employer!

Building an Effective Resume

A resume is a professional reflection of you as a potential employee. The goal is to showcase confidence in your ability to fulfill the qualifications of the position for which you’re applying. Follow these eight steps to create a more effective resume:

Step 1: Getting Started

How do you get started? You should begin your resume with a heading that includes your name, address, phone number, and email address. You may want to include a permanent address and alternate contact information. Be sure to include a zip code and telephone area codes.

What is your objective? Prepare a brief, clear statement stating the type work you are seeking, the field in which you are interested, and the skills and strengths you bring to an organization. The Objective section is optional and may be omitted in some situations. Ask for guidance if you are unsure.

Step 2: Gather Information

What have you learned? The Education section highlights the knowledge you have acquired, and can include training, certifications, or licensure. List all degrees earned (or date to be earned), majors, concentrations, and institutions. List the degree title before the institution name. You may also want to include your GPA (especially if cumulative or major GPA is 3.0 or higher), relevant coursework, academic honors, and study abroad experience. The Honors section highlights Dean’s List, honor societies, and academic awards you have received.

What have you done? The Work Experience section highlights your (paid or unpaid) work-related accomplishments. Employers want to know what you have done and what experience you have that is worthy of consideration. Experience includes full-time jobs, academic research projects, internships or co-op positions, part-time jobs, or volunteer work. When describing each experience, give the position, title of organization, city, state, and dates employed. Use action verbs to begin each statement describing your accomplishments and duties in the job. Quantify people, products, and profits if possible.

Step 3: Identify Your Skills

Skills and competencies can be included in your Summary of Qualifications. These should be supported by the Education and Work Experience sections. There are three different types of skills you can include in your Summary of Qualifications.

  • Technical/Professional Skills: Skills performed in a job, task, or class, acquired by reading, training, or education. For example: "Proficient in Unix, Oracle, Oas LAN."
  • Functional Skills: Skills related to people, information, or things transferable from one field or occupation to another. Be able to identify several strengths in the categories of data (organizing, problem-solving, creating), people (communicating, supervising, teaching), and things (maintaining, operating, coordinating).
  • Personal/Adaptive Skills: Skills that represent your style of working coordinated with your personal traits. For example: "Patient, creative, persistent, and energetic employee."

Step 4: Match Your Experience and Skills with an Employer's Needs

The content of your resume will change with applications to different jobs. You should mention skills that you possess that are required for the particular job to which you are applying. Additionally, change the wording of experiences and skills to match the type of position for which you are looking.

Step 5: Organize Your Resume Effectively

Organize your resume in a way that reflects your qualifications and skills for the job you are applying for. Name and objective should always be first; however, you should organize what is the most important to your targeted employer from the top of the page down. Keep in mind that additional categories can be created to represent your various strengths. Some additional sections include: Leadership Activities, Relevant Skills and Experience, Special Interests, and Accomplishments. If one area outweighs another as an asset, it should come before other sections.

References should always be presented on a separate page and not included with the resume. Prepare the reference page with the name, title, name of organization where the reference works, address, telephone number and email address of each reference. Make sure that your references are aware that you have included them on your list. On your resume, you can indicate References Available Upon Request.

Step 6: Creating Your Draft

Length: Your resume should be easy to read; if it is too lengthy
or jumbled, your potential employer may disregard it. Most undergraduates should keep their resume to one page, but a two-page resume is an option for job seekers with more experience. If you are leaving out vital information because you want to keep your resume to one page, add a second page. Be sure to include your name on the second page.

Format: Balance the layout by making all four margins equal. Your resume should be visually pleasing at first glance. White space helps important information stand out to the reader.

Production: Use good quality 100% bond paper in a conservative in color such as white, gray, or beige. No unusual fonts.

Verbs: Describe your skills, abilities and accomplishments using action verbs. Use present tense for current duties and past tense for prior tasks. Do not include first person pronouns like “I” or “my.”

A few useful action verbs can be used to describe an abundance of job skills:

Management Skills

  • administered
  • assigned
  • attained
  • delegated
  • developed
  • established
  • executed
  • improved
  • increased
  • oversaw
  • produced
  • supervised

Communication Skills

  • addressed
  • composed
  • directed
  • explained
  • formulated
  • mediated
  • negotiated
  • promoted
  • reconciled
  • resolved
  • translated
  • wrote

Research Skills

  • analyzed
  • clarified
  • conducted
  • diagnosed
  • examined
  • identified
  • investigated
  • organized
  • researched
  • reviewed
  • solved
  • surveyed

Technical Skills

  • adapted
  • applied
  • calculated
  • designed
  • devised
  • fabricated
  • maintained
  • operated
  • repaired
  • solved
  • upgraded
  • utilized

Teaching Skills

  • advised
  • coordinated
  • enabled
  • encouraged
  • evaluated
  • explained
  • facilitated
  • guided
  • informed
  • instructed
  • stimulated
  • tutored

Financial Skills

  • administered
  • allocated
  • appraised
  • balanced
  • computed
  • estimated
  • managed
  • marketed
  • planned
  • projected
  • reconciled
  • reduced

Creative Skills

  • created
  • composed
  • founded
  • initiated
  • integrated
  • introduced
  • originated
  • performed
  • revitalized
  • shaped

Helping Skills

  • advocated
  • aided
  • assisted
  • demonstrate
  • educated
  • expedited
  • familiarized
  • motivated
  • referred
  • represented
  • resolved
  • supported

Administrative/Clerical or Detail Skills

  • approved
  • arranged
  • compiled
  • distributed
  • executed
  • generated
  • implemented
  • prepared
  • processed
  • retrieved
  • tabulated
  • validated

Step 7: Ask for Feedback on Your Resume

Always get a second opinion on your resume. You know your intentions, but your wording might not be clear. In addition, a second opinion can help you correct mistakes and errors in format. Second opinions can come from an online critique through Career Services or from a personal appointment with a Career Advisor or Career Counselor. A friend, advisor, employer, or professor can also offer comments on your resume.

Step 8: Final Review

How does it look? Here is a checklist to help you evaluate:


  • Content is directly related to the position you are applying for
  • Name is at the top of the page and highlighted by large font
  • Descriptions are action verbs with a consistent verb tense; current job is in present tense while past jobs are in past tense
  • Work experience shows results of task performed
  • Measurement: Do your best to quantify your work experience
  • with results from your tasks
  • Repetition of words or phrases is kept to a minimum
  • Capitalization, punctuation, and date formats are consistent
  • There are no typos or spelling errors and grammar is correct
  • There is a rationale for each piece of information included


  • The best assets - whether education, experience, or skills - are listed first
  • The document is easily reviewed; categories are clear and text is indented when needed
  • The dates of employment are easy to find and are in a consistent format
  • Listings in different sections run from most recent to least recent


  • Bold text and capitalization are used minimally and consistently
  • Margins and line spacing keep the page from looking too jumbled or crowded
  • Spacing and font size are consistent
  • Font is easy to read and no smaller than 11 point size