A resume is a living document that outlines your education, experiences, and achievements, but knowing how to construct the perfect resume can be daunting.
Recruiters and hiring managers typically spend 10-30 seconds reviewing resumes, so it is important to have a clean and consistent format. This will help highlight your skills, abilities, education and accomplishments and make your resume stand out.
You should view your resume as a marketing tool and you are the product. Always ask yourself the following before submitting your resume to any position, “Is my resume marketing me as the best candidate for this position”? If the answer is yes, proceed. If the answer is no, use the following handouts to assist you with building or revising your resume.
Format and consistency will be the first hurdle to overcome, and, if done incorrectly, can be an easy way to get your resume rejected. Review margin settings, fonts, date formats and punctuation. Also ensure consistent spacing between headers (i.e. Education, Professional Experience, etc.)
To show the most behind the work you’ve done, try writing out your experiences in the ST.A.R. format :
- ST (Situation or Task – what you did)
- A (Actions – how you handled specifics of the situation or performed the task)
- R (Results – what happened as a result, try to provide numbers behind this if possible)
Good: Created printed brochures and posters.
Better: Created printed brochures and posters (ST) using Adobe Photoshop and InDesign (A) which resulted in the launch of 2,000 new advertising packets.
Below are some general tips and tricks to keep in mind of when creating your resume:
Utilize university resume templates for formatting. Avoid templates from other sources (i.e. Canva or from internet sites). Applicant tracking systems have difficulty reading these
Choose an appropriate email name: first/last or some variation that helps your future employer know who you are
Include a functioning phone number, and make sure your voicemail greeting is professional
Use Key Words throughout your resume: Matching keywords and qualifications from the job description will keep your resume from being blocked by the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) and recruiting systems. Applicant Tracking Systems are automated systems that organizations use to screen thousands of resume submissions, weed out those that are missing key words, and pass along the more qualified candidates to the hiring managers. Make sure you’re not blocked by adding Key Words!
Always save your current, ready to submit resume as a PDF to avoid formatting changes
Refer to examples from your field
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Whether you’re on your first or twelfth draft, it can be challenging to take your resume to the next level. Feel free to schedule a one-on-one appointment via Handshake with a career advisor or counselor for additional help.
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CV is short for curriculum vitae which means “course of life” in Latin. In the United States, a CV is used when applying for graduate school, PhD programs, and academic positions. It showcases your professional history, teaching experience, presentation and conference participation, educational history, dissertations, skills, honors and awards, etc. Unlike a resume, there is no limit to the number of pages. Of note, outside of the US, people refer to their resume as a CV.
The purpose of a cover letter is to introduce yourself and demonstrate interest in the position for which you are applying. Your letter is an opportunity to sell yourself, expand on your abilities and provide examples of why you are the best candidate for the position.
Think of the resume and cover letter as documents that are working together in conjunction. The cover letter is an elaboration on the experiences that show up in your resume. A well-written cover letter can put you miles ahead of the competition.
When creating a cover letter, keep it to one page. The body of the letter should consist of three main paragraphs as shown below (also see the attached Cover Letter handout for an example).
[Body Paragraph 1 – I LOVE YOU] 2-3 sentences - Why you LOVE them - let them know you’ve done your homework on the company and the job and why you are excited about working there. Remember you are selling them.
[Body Paragraph 2 – YOU LOVE ME] What you can do for them. Pick 3 or 4 of the top responsibilities from the job description. Tell them what you will do for them and why you believe you can do it based on your experience. Keep it brief.
[Closing – LET’S CONNECT] Thank them for considering your application and invite them to reach out to you. Provide your contact information.
Yes & No!
Yes, even if the employer doesn’t ask for one, it’s always a good idea to include a cover letter. This is an opportunity to show the employer a bit of your personality and passion. This will also help you stand out from the competition as many people don’t take time for this important step.
No! There are some industries/companies that tell you not to include a cover letter. Follow their instructions when applying!