Crafting a good resume is an art form. Think of your resume as a snapshot of your entire professional and academic existence. Consider the work that people put into selecting a profile photo on Facebook or Instagram. They want to look physically attractive, sure – but perhaps they’d also like to demonstrate interest in a particular hobby, or show off an important relationship. Maybe they include a pet or beautiful outdoor scenery. Just as that photo is intended to convey nuance and detail in a single image, so should your resume.
Structure and Design
Physically, your resume should conform to certain professional standards that are relatively inflexible unless you’re in certain fields – think visual arts – that allow for more creativity. Don’t go crazy on format. Follow these rules:
- One page, max. Even professionals who’ve been working for several years don’t often exceed this rule until they have accrued a great deal of experience, so if you’re over a page you’re likely including details you don’t need.
- Include – at the top of your resume – your name, a physical address, your cell phone number, and a personal email. If you don’t have one, make sure to open an email account that looks something like email@example.com.
- Break down your resume into three or four sub-sections. We suggest: Education, Employment History, and Interests/Volunteerism. These are flexible and should be tailored to your experience. For example, if you have accrued technical certifications or awards, these may deserve a separate subheading.
- Your resume should utilize bullet points to itemize your specific skills and experiences, and each line item should include some verbs that discuss what you learned or did. For example – if you’ve worked in a retail store, you might include “Provided excellent customer service” or “ensured compliance with corporate standards.”
- Although it can be tempting to exaggerate responsibility or use complex language, don’t. Hiring pros see a lot of resumes, and want to see that you’re able to summarize some successful academic and professional accomplishments honestly and succinctly.
If your resume seems a bit bare-bones, don’t worry. College students haven’t generally had time to accrue much experience. Focus on shining some light on what you have done, and remember – this is a snapshot of your professional life to date, and first impressions are everything.