What is the purpose of a resume?
A resume is a professional summary that highlights your skills, abilities, and achievements. Resumes provide employers with a unique reflection of your experiences and are used for securing part or full-time employment, gaining admission into a graduate program, being awarded a scholarship, and more. An ideal resume should feature your accomplishments, strengths, and transferable skills.
Creating Your Resume
Your resume should be strategically written to briefly and effectively communicate your experience. Whether you’re applying for a part-time position, volunteer opportunity, internship, or a full-time job, you want your resume to professionally reflect your qualifications. Think about experiences you are most proud of and want to highlight to tell your story and how you will add value.
What are Transferable Skills?
Transferable skills are skills that you have that can be used in many positions and across multiple disciplines. These are skills that you can develop throughout your collegiate experience that can translate into different areas that are relevant to work and life. On your resume, it is important to think about how your previous skills and experiences could translate into the role you are applying to.
For example, you may be applying to a position that requires “strong communication skills” in the job description. When developing your resume, think about when you might have demonstrated communication skills- maybe it was through a class project? A presentation? A student organization? Think about what experiences would highlight the skill the position is seeking.
Transferrable skills are shared on your resume through strong bullet points under each experience. Bullet points include the following: Action verb + Task + Result. You may want to answer the questions, “What did I accomplish?,” “How did I do this?,” and “Why is this important to share?”. Sharing your transferrable skills through bullet points makes your previous experiences relatable and actionable.
Here are some examples of strong bullet points:
- Supervised the camp population of 100+ persons in water for 24 hours weekly to ensure safety
- Planned annual networking events for active members to meet alumni and build mentoring relationships
- Implemented marketing strategies to promote newspaper to target populations, increasing online readership by 43%
Pro Tips for Building a Resume
- Avoid using templates online – they can be difficult to revise in the future
- Tailor to the job/program applying for
- When applying for industry positions, keep resume to 1 page
- When applying for graduate programs or those with advanced degrees, resume can be 1-2 pages
- Use 10-12 size font in a professional style
- Margins should be no smaller than 0.5 inches
- Experiences are to be listed in reverse chronological order or by importance/relevance
- Proofread! Check punctuation, grammar, and sentence structure
- Use verbs similar to those found in the job posting or that kind of work
- Use nouns (keywords) that relate to things that are part of the job with which you may have previous experience
- All dates, abbreviations, and formatting should be consistent
- Ask Yourself These Questions Before Starting
- Do I Need a Cover Letter with my Resume?
- What's the Difference Between a Resume and a CV?
- Who is my audience? To whom am I writing and why will they care?
- What are my professional career goals?
- What are the unique strengths I bring?
- What experiences am I most proud of?
- Do my descriptions summarize what I’ve learned or accomplished?
- Which competencies and skills do I want to highlight throughout my resume?
- Can the reader visualize my experiences?
A cover letter is a formal letter that complements a resume or other position application materials. It allows you to introduce yourself to an organization and demonstrate effective written communication by expressing your interest and showcasing your education, experience, and skills. Cover letters should be tailored to the position you are applying for- never submit a “general” cover letter.
A cover letter, while not always “required” for an application, gives you another opportunity to share about your interest in the position and introduce your resume in context. Although cover letters can be time consuming to write, they can help the search committee/hiring manager understand more about you and your skills and qualifications. This can help your application stand out from others.
Learn more about cover letters.
A curriculum vitae and a resume are similar in that both highlight one’s education and relevant experience. However, a CV tends to be longer and is used more widely when candidates have published works like scientific evidence or journals. Common for graduate students, a CV tends to include any research experience, teaching experience, and publications. CVs are more comprehensive as they are used when applying to positions where specific field knowledge or expertise is required. Like a resume, there is no one correct format for a CV- the key is formatting and organization.
Learn more about CVs.