A resume is a summary of your qualifications, education, and experiences related to an opportunity you are seeking. In an average of 30 seconds or less, most reviewers decide whether or not to consider a candidate for an interview. To make the best impression, your resume must be clear, concise, and compelling.
The information below is a quick introduction to resumes and CVs. For more information see our Resume Writing Guide.
Below are short introductions to different resume formats. For more information about these formats, including suggestions for when you should consider using the format, see the Resume Writing Guide.
The most common format, chronological resumes organize experience in reverse chronological order (i.e. most recent first). Chronological resumes are easy to follow as they show career/experience growth and the organizations at which you have gained experience. When in doubt, choose a chronological format because it is most familiar to readers.
By focusing on three to four areas of transferable skills and achievements, a functional resume places emphasis on your relevant qualifications. Qualifications are arranged around skill/achievement areas rather than around date. Following the qualifications, a simple list of experience history is included at the bottom. Functional resumes are highly effective if you have a diverse set of experiences which make qualifications difficult to communicate in the chronological format.
Just as its name suggests, a combination resume combines features of the chronological and functional resume formats. Like the functional format, it places emphasis on your relevant qualifications in a “summary of qualifications” or “professional highlights” section. However, instead of simply listing experience history, you would include a detailed experience section like in a chronological resume. By combining these features, this resume format is extremely useful for those who have an extensive work history and want to immediately emphasize your strongest credentials.
Interested in an opportunity with the Federal Government? You may have noticed some differences in the hiring process, including requiring a federal resume. The federal resume format is different from what you may know as a typical resume, as it requires more details and can run up to five pages for an entry-level position. For more information about how to write a federal resume, visit either USA Jobs ( www.usajobs.gov) or Go Government ( gogovernment.org). You can even find a FREE Resume Builder on the USA Jobs website, which will generate a template with your inputted information.
In the United States, a curriculum vitae (CV) is primarily used in the academic world. A CV is a listing of your education, work history, publications, presentations, awards/recognitions, and other accomplishments related to academia. Rather than selecting the most relevant experiences, a CV is a comprehensive document of all your professional accomplishments; therefore, it will be much longer than your resume.
Outside of the United States, especially in Europe, CVs are more common in a variety of contexts and often interchangeable with a resume; however, expectations regarding content and formatting may differ by country. GoingGlobal (bit.ly/CUAGGlobal) is an excellent resource to learn more about international resume and CV expectations, and any other questions about working internationally.
At minimum, include the following on your resume. For more sections and/or information to include, see the Resume Writing Guide or schedule an appointment with a career counselor.
At the top of your resume, include your name, address/location, phone number, email address, and any professional website URL(s) (e.g. LinkedIn, portfolios, etc.).
In reverse chronological order list all institutions from which you have earned a degree. At minimum, include the name and location of the institution, the type of degree earned (e.g. Bachelor of Arts), your major(s), and any minors, concentrations, certificate programs, etc. You may also choose to include your GPA; relevant coursework; scholarships, honors, and awards; study abroad; projects; thesis or dissertation topics; clinical and field experience; and/or special training programs, certifications, or licensures.
In reverse chronological order, summarize experiences that highlight your relevant skills and accomplishments. Experiences include, but are not limited to full-time and part-time work, paid and unpaid internships, student involvement, volunteer and service work, projects and research experience, military service, etc. For each experience, include your position title, the name and location (city, state) of the organization, and the dates you participated. Describe each experience with concise bullet points that summarize your skills and accomplishments in the position. Begin with a strong action verb (in the correct tense) and describe both your actions and the results, if possible quantifying.
This section is optional, but by listing any relevant skills you help those skills stand out to the reader. You may consider listing any language, computer/technical (e.g. databases, programming languages, design programs, etc), or other specialized skills.
- Use a common font (e.g. Times New Roman, Garamond, Arial, Calibri, or Veranda) at 10-12 points in size.
- Set margins no larger than 0.75 inches and no smaller than 0.5 inches.
- Use formatting consistently so your resume looks clean and uniformed (e.g. punctuation, date format, order of info, etc.).
- Use white space advantageously so your resume is both full and easy to read by adjusting font choice and size, adding spacing, and changing your margins.
- Always submit/email your resume as a PDF file with a professional file name (e.g. RedCardinal_resume.pdf).
Can I Apply To Multiple Opportunities With The Same Resume?
No two opportunities are alike. Use the position description and conduct research on the organization to tailor your resume to the specific opportunity. We suggest having a general resume which you can modify for each opportunity.
What About My High School Experiences?
Beyond your sophomore year of college, you typically do not include your high school education and experiences on your resume. Exceptions to this rule include unique experiences relevant to the opportunity you are seeking.
Can My Resume Be Longer Than A Page?
If you are an undergrad or recent grad, keep it to one page. If you have several years of experiences, additional pages are acceptable. There are exceptions to this rule (e.g. Federal resumes), which you can speak to a career counselor about.
How Can I Get Help With My Resume?
For more information see the full Resume Writing Guide.
Schedule an appointment with an academic and career advisor for a resume critique (you do not need a complete document to schedule an appointment).
- Chronological Resume 1
- Chronological Resume 2
- Limited Experience Resume (ideal for freshman and those with little professional experience)
- Functional Resume
- Combination Resume
- Curriculum Vitae
- Reference Page