A resume is a summary of your professional and educational experiences. Recruiters spend an average of eight seconds looking at a resume. This means they only collect a small amount of information from a resume before deciding to hold on to it or not. One spelling, grammar, or formatting error can lead to a recruiter disregarding your resume. Always double-check your resume and have someone else read it before applying.  

The basic building blocks of a resume are the format, content, and bullet points, but there are some additional steps to be taken to complete these pieces well. Follow the guide below to have a great foundation in creating your resume. 

Step one: Getting Started

There are many right ways to create a resume, but the most important thing is to demonstrate your specific qualifications for the opportunity you are seeking. Customizing your resume involves critically reviewing the job or internship description and carefully organizing and re-writing the content to demonstrate your qualifications. The goal of writing a great resume is to get an interview – helping remember that it is the starting point of the application can take some pressure off having the perfect design and allow the focus to center on making your experiences specific, relevant, and obvious.  

When you start your first resume, some helpful things to consider:

  • List your career goals, skills, and experience. It can be helpful to write everything down then focus on formatting. Try using our Resume Treasure Chest Worksheet to help you get started. 

  • The Ohio University Resume Template. Our templates were created based on industry bests practices and feedback from employers.   

  • A job description, when applicable. You should align your skills and experience to the qualifications in the job description.   

A resume is a flexible document that can be adapted to highlight your skills or experiences. The content categories you select for your resume will be determined by a number of factors, especially by your strongest “selling points” relative to the type of position you are seeking. You may have several versions of your resume if you are targeting different types of career positions.   

The length of a resume for undergraduate students is one page. Graduate students and individuals with several years of experience after graduation may extend their resume to more pages.   

Curriculum Vitae (or CV) can also be used internationally as a term interchangeable with resume, which can add to existing confusion about the difference between a resume and a CV.

Step two: Resume content

Contact Information – This information allows employers to contact you when they are interested in your resume. This section should always include your full name, phone number, and email address. You may also choose to include your address, your preferred pronouns, a link to a website or online portfolio, and it is common to include your LinkedIn.  

Education – Your academic experience should be listed in reverse chronological order with your most recent degree or experience listed first. List the proper title of your degree and GPA (only if it is above a 3.0). It is common to also include publications, as well as experiences, like study abroad in this section, too.  

Experience – Your experience should include not only paid full-time positions but also internship, part-time, volunteer, field, observation, and co-op experience. For each experience, list the organization for whom you worked, the location (city and state), job title, and dates (month/year) of employment. Within the sections, your experience should be listed in reverse chronological order.  You can highlight specific experience by separating it from general work experience in a “Relevant Experience” section of your resume.   

  • Give a brief description of the skills and responsibilities for each position using short statements.   

  • Begin each bullet point with an action verb.  

  • Avoid the use of personal pronouns (I, my, or me).  

  • Take credit for what you have done – especially for those activities that you initiated, developed, or supervised. Be careful not to exaggerate your responsibilities, but do not undersell yourself either.   

Activities – Your involvement and leadership in clubs, student government, athletics, and social organizations shows an employer you have broadened your education with activities outside the classroom. These activities can also demonstrate important work-related skills and knowledge and the ability to work effectively with others. Be sure to include offices and other leadership positions you have held, as well as describing the positions and related tasks.   

Optional sections to customize your resume – You may list other types of information that relate to your career and/or reflect achievements in which the employer may have interest.  

  • Special Skills – Technology, Language(s)  

  • Professional Affiliations  

  • Research   

  • Presentations/Publications  

  • Productions/Shows  

  • Study Abroad  

  • Volunteer  

  • Certifications  

  • Military  

  • Relevant Courses  

  • Honors and Awards  

Step three: Writing bullet points

Bullet points are an effective way to highlight your experiences, skills, and accomplishments and make your resume easy to read. Strong bullet points are essential for a competitive resume and include what, how, who, and why/results of what you did. The goal of a bullet point is to help the reader understand how you did the job rather than rewriting your job description.  Check out our Bullet Point Writing Worksheet and our Sample Action Verbs List to help you start writing strong bullet points.

Quick tips  

  • Every bullet point should start with a strong action verb and avoid repeating action verbs   

  • Utilize language and keywords from the job description, as well as industry buzzwords   

  • Quantify your experiences and actions, when possible  

  • Be specific – mention skills, techniques, and knowledge, especially ones that are specific to role, also technology platforms, tools used, and assessment strategies  

Step four: Check your work

Resume Writing Best Practices  

  • Resumes use easy to read fronts, such as Arial, Calibri, or Cambria.  

  • List approximately three to five bullet points for each experience.  

  • Use past tense for previous positions (e.g. Facilitated) and present tense for current positions (e.g. Facilitate).   

  • Your margins should be no smaller than 0.5 inches. You can adjust your margins to help your resume fit nicely on one page.  

  • Text size should be no smaller than size 10 and no larger than size 14. Your name at the top of the page should be the largest text on the page.   

  • Use abbreviations sparingly. Spell out your degree, the name of the university, and organizations to which you belong.  

  • Save your resume as a PDF before sending it electronically to employers. It is more professional and prevents any changes from being made to your resume.  

  • Title electronic copies of your resume with your name, the company and/or position you are applying for, and the date of the application.   

  • Get your point across quickly and clearly. Use key words and well-written bullet points.  

  • Consistency is key! The best resumes are consistent, making it easy for a recruiter to read.  

Basic Resume Checklist  

Use these basic tips to make sure your resume meets the minimum requirements to appear professional.  

  • Resume is at least one full page   

  • Contact information at the top of the resume includes name, email, and phone   

  • Make your name the largest text on the resume   

  • List the university’s name and location in the education section    

  • Avoid any pronoun use in the document   

  • Fonts are professional and easy-to-read in 10-12 point font   

  • All format elements are consistent throughout the document including fonts, bolding, italicizing, and use of capitals   

  • All work experiences include a description of accomplishments, transferable skills, or relevant job duties  

  • Begin each bullet point with an action verb in the appropriate tense   

  • If the experience has concluded, it should be written in the past tense   

  • All work experiences list the organization name, your title, location, and start and end dates   

  • List the formal title of your degree (e.g. Bachelor of Arts in History) and the date you did or will graduate (e.g. May 2020). If you’re unsure of this information, check your DARS. 

Enhance Your Resume  

Move from basic to best with these suggestions for strengthening your document.  

  • Customize your resume to a specific job or internship posting   

  • Focus on highlighting transferable skills to the job you are seeking   

  • Put your most relevant content to a job of interest closer to the top of the document    

  • Quantify accomplishments by including numbers   

  • Convert your document to a PDF before uploading to prevent an extra blank page   

  • Remove all high school information from your resume after your first year at OHIO (With the exception of things you are still actively involved in.)  

  • Do not use periods at the end of bullet points   

  • List your GPA only if it is above a 3.0  

  • Create additional or edit headers on resume to demonstrate specific experience (Marketing Experience, Patient Care Experience, Production and Recording Experience)  

  • List your LinkedIn, Personal Website, Portfolio Link and other digital access points that can demonstrate experience in your contact information.