Write a Resume

A resume is an outline of your history that highlights your experience, skills and interests. It may combine academic/nonacademic, paid/unpaid and on/off campus activities.  There is no perfect resume design that fits everyone, as you will notice in the examples on this website –  find the format that will best emphasize your unique background.

Use the following list of action verbs and resume templates to begin creating your new resume. All formats are acceptable, so pick the one you like best and bring it in for a review during Career Center’s walk-in hours.

Standard resume formats:

Resume Workshops allow you to walk in with a draft and walk out with a great presentation of your experience and skills. Take advantage of these weekly opportunities to make sure you have chosen the most strategic content and design.  Space is limited so pre-register in our Rte 2 system. To see dates for upcoming resume workshops, click here.  Follow this link to view the 2016 Winter Workshop Series Resumes and Cover Letters Presentation!

Note:  Technology has made an impact on how you design the resume. If you are doing it on-line as part of a resume database for many employers to review, the format is usually designed for you. Once you have put your resume on-line, all employers subscribing to the system will be able to review your document and contact you if there is a match.  Also, be sure to create a Linked-in profile for yourself.  Linked-in is quickly becoming the social medium of choice for professionals, and it is a great networking tool.

Generally speaking, the on-paper resume you prepare to mail with a cover letter or present at a campus interview should be limited to one 8.5 by 11 page, but it can incorporate a more creative design. White or off-white bond paper and clean, easy-to-read print are suggested. Use the same paper color and weight for the letter and envelope.

Many employers now scan paper or download e-mailed resumes into the company database so managers at all divisions will be able to review them. Employers use the computer to search for key words on each resume. Use enough key words to define you. Make sure you describe your education, experience, activities, special skills, and professional affiliations with concrete words rather than vague references. Employers rarely search for generic words such as helped, assisted, worked on, observed, intern, saw, etc. Avoid “etc.” or “numerous” or “some exposure to.” Use common headings such as: education, experience, activities, skills, honors, scholarships, GPA, major, etc. without modifiers. Employers like traditional words and can’t be expected to know campus slang.

Scanning and e-mail programs put limits on the how you should format your resume. Scanners and some e-mail programs will not accept italics, underlining, shadow print, graphics, lines, unusual typefaces, parentheses, dot matrix printing, boxes, or reverse print. You don’t want anything omitted by the scanner. Use 10 to 12 point font size. Use white paper. You may want to have two resumes: one suitable for scanning to mail to employers, and one with a different design style to hand to the interviewer at an interview on campus or at an interview you have arranged.

It is also now a good idea to create a PDF version of your resume to insure that your formatting is consistent, by whatever means it is being read. Most Microsoft Word software will convert your resume to PDF as part of the Print command pop-up screen.

What to Include

Begin by making a list of everything you have done. A good rule of thumb is to concentrate on the last four years. Sophomores looking for a summer experience will include high school, seniors will concentrate on Williams, and graduate students will reference undergraduate accomplishments. However, don’t limit yourself at this point. List jobs, school activities, sports, awards and honors, hobbies, artistic talent, international experiences, foreign language proficiency, special skills, volunteer activities—in short, any and every skill, interest, or achievement that might be of interest to an employer.

Once you’ve listed everything, you’re ready to start selecting which items will present the best picture to a potential employer. You can start by deciding how you want to group the entries. If you can’t decide, a career counselor can help you. Make an appointment or come to the walk-in hours.

Developing Content

The employer’s point of view should be your guide. Most employers look for common strengths in the candidates. They look for people who take initiative, demonstrate leadership, get the job done or motivate others to do it. Therefore, descriptions of any jobs or activities should reflect both the results you have achieved and your potential.

Keep in mind that you must always be truthful. You’re creating a document that sells your virtues, but don’t get carried away. Truth in advertising is a must.

What about References?  It’s always a good idea to have a list of your references with their names, addresses, and phone numbers on a separate sheet to hand to the interviewer if requested. Always ask the recommenders first and provide each with a copy of your polished resume. Have your recommenders compose tailored letters for each job for which you are a finalist.