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What is the purpose of a resume?

A resume is your personal "marketing brochure." You want it to catch an employer's attention and, ultimately, get you an interview. Keep in mind that an employer will have many candidates for a single position and will spend only a few seconds looking at each resume. For this reason, you want your resume to be focused, concise and tailor-made for the position for which you are applying. This means that you will have to construct multiple resumes if you are considering a variety of career options.

Make it easy for the employer to notice you

  • Use headings to clearly organize your content.
  • Use bulleted lists rather than writing in complete sentences.
  • Be specific about your skills and qualifications.


Do not list everything you've done

Use the job description to guide what you include on your resume and what you leave out.  Employers are interested in what you've done recently.  Include only experiences that you've had since you've been in college -- don't include your high school education or activities (unless you are a freshman searching for an internship).

It's not necessary to list all the courses you've ever taken.  If employers really care about your coursework, they'll ask for a transcript.  Coursework that is directly relevant to the position can be included as a bullet point in your "Education" section.

Use professional words

Know correct terminology/jargon in your profession.  Nouns and verbs that are specific to your industry will help your resume stand out when an employer uses keyword scanning technology to sort by specific criteria.  Using descriptive words in your chosen field implies that you are informed and qualified.

Before starting your resume

Gather information you'll need or that supports statements on your resume and keep a file.  All information may not be used on the resume, but you may want to review your file before you interview to prepare in-depth examples.  

Want additional tips, advice, and sample resumes?
Download the resume section of our Career Guide.

Formatting basics using Microsoft Word

Need help formatting your resume? The following links may be helpful.