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Career and Life Outcomes Center

 @HCCareerCtr

Maurice Horowitch Career
and Life Outcomes Center
315-859-4346
315-859-4332 (fax)

WRITE: Resumes & Professional Correspondence

Resume Guide

This guide is intended to help you construct and refine your resume. The sample resumes illustrate some of the different ways information can be presented to an employer, but do not include samples of all the available styles and formats. For additional guidance, make an appointment with either a Peer Advisor or a member of the professional staff at the Career Center.

Purpose

The resume and the cover letter are considered to be the most significant correspondence during the job search because they provide the prospective employer with a first impression of you.

  • To summarize your education, experiences, and qualifications as they relate to your career goal(s). The best resumes are those that reflect the skill set of your career field of interest. See the ‘Targeted Resume’ page.
  • To market yourself to a potential employer in hopes of securing an interview. It then gives structure to an interview and is often circulated to others within the organization.

Format & Style

The career field for which you plan to use your resume will often determine the style; consult a Career Center Counselor and/or someone in your chosen field to determine which style is best.

  • "Reverse chronological" in which one’s education, jobs, and experiences are listed in chronological order, starting with the most recent and working backwards, is expected by most employers.
  • There are different resume styles, including bullet and paragraph. A bullet-style resume highlights specific experiences and achievements using bullet points. A paragraph-style resume details tasks and accomplishments in sentence structure, with one sentence following after another.
  • Resumes written by college students or recent graduates should be limited to one page. There are a few exceptions to this rule. Meet with a professional counselor if you have concerns.
  • View samples of various resume styles


Content

The following sections may be included on your resume. Keep the employer’s objective in mind and include only those sections that are applicable to you. Devote more space and emphasis to those aspects of your experience which most qualify you for the CREs or jobs you will be applying for.

Name, Address, Telephone, and Email (required)
  • Use your full name and set it apart from the body of the resume. In general, your name should be about 2 points larger in font than the body of the document, and bold.
  • Include an address if it shows that you are in close proximity to the opportunity you are applying for.
  • List one telephone number where you can be reached. If you have an answering machine/voicemail, unusual greetings such as song lyrics or inappropriate humor should be avoided.
  • Include an appropriately named email account that you check daily.
Education (required)
  • List name(s) of college(s) attended (including terms spent studying off campus), location (city and state or country), degree/certificate received, projected date of completion, major/concentration, and minor.
  • Consider including the name of your high school if you are an underclass student or if relevant to your career or geographic pursuits.
  • Include other educational training or activities which are pertinent to your objective (i.e., relevant courses at Hamilton and/or other institutions, senior thesis, professional certifications and/or licenses). Honors and awards may be included here or under a separate heading (see below).
  • GPA is generally not required on a resume, but it is wise to include it if it enhances your qualifications for your field. Many employers in finance, law, and consulting require that one’s cumulative GPA be included. If you have any questions about whether or not to include your GPA, see a counselor.
Related/Relevant Coursework:
  • For many students, their academic courses show a level of knowledge in a field they may not have much experience in, and therefore should be included.
  • If the section “Related Courses” or “Relevant Coursework” is included, the courses listed must be related or relevant to the position/industry you are applying for.
Honors and Awards (optional)
  • List academic honors (i.e., Dean’s List), prizes for leadership, or achievements which demonstrate academic excellence or special abilities. Give a brief description of the award. Include relevant dates.
  • Think strategically when deciding which awards to include. See a counselor or Peer Advisor if you are unsure.
Work/Relevant/Professional Experience (this section SHOULD include unpaid work/internships and campus activities if they are related to your career interest area) (required)

Show how your on-campus, internship and/or work experiences relate to your career or job choice and demonstrate to the employer that you have the skills necessary to do the work. Include relevant experiences and skills gained from any of the following: full-time, summer, and part-time work, internships, assistantships, field work, special research projects, volunteer work, and extracurricular activities. Consider the following as you work on this section:

  • Demonstrate the skills you acquired by describing your responsibilities using action verbs (refer to the attached list) such as research(ed), create(d), present(ed). Verb tense will depend upon whether or not you are currently performing the tasks stated;
  • Keep the focus on you rather than the organization;
  • Highlight your accomplishments and/or the results of your work, including promotions if applicable. Quantify and qualify your experience if possible (i.e., # of people supervised, amount of $ raised). Include the dates for each experience listed and list in reverse chronological order.
Other Experience (optional)
  • If you have work experiences that do not relate to what you are applying for, you may wish to list them in a separate section below “Related Experience.” For example, if you have worked as a waitress, but you are looking to explore non-profit internships, your work with HAVOC would go in “Related Experience” and you restaurant work may be lower in the page under “Other Experience” – even if more recent.
Activities (optional)

This section can add depth to your resume by showing commitment and involvement outside of academic coursework and employment and may help to establish common interests with employers.

  • Include leadership positions and membership in clubs, organizations, and/or athletics.
  • Illustrate how you progressed (i.e., member to president, writer to editor). You may choose to briefly elaborate on your role(s) and/or provide descriptions for those activities which require further explanation (i.e., HAVOC Site Coordinator or Trust Treat).
Related and Additional Skills (optional)
  • Describe special skills which are applicable to the job. These could include computer, technical, scientific and/or artistic skills, special certifications, or foreign languages.
Publications (optional)
  • List published articles, books, or manuscripts; identify the publisher and/or publication and include actual or expected date of publication. You may wish to include a link to your work if it is online.
Military experience (optional)
  • Include dates of service, ranks, duties, and training.
Interests/Other (optional)
  • Include any specific interests not otherwise noted on your resume that you want prospective employers to know about you (i.e., reading Faulkner, skiing, and bird watching).
  • International students with legal permission to work in the U.S. and/or those with dual citizenship should include a sentence to that effect.

How to Begin

Step 1 - Brainstorm:

On the worksheet provided, list your jobs, major activities, educational experiences, and accomplishments during the last five years. Do not worry about the order.

 

Step 2 - Research:

To describe your experiences in the most relevant terms, research your career field of interest, specifically the responsibilities of entry-level positions.

 

Step 3 - Organize Your Information:

Determine the best way to group your experiences and choose appropriate section headings. Do not be bound by the particular headings listed above. Choose a style using the samples as guides.

 

Step 4 - Write a draft:

Describe Your Experiences:

Think about the skills you used in each job/activity and choose action verbs (list of action verbs/skill words) which most accurately describe your responsibilities and accomplishments. An example might be: “Researched and wrote 12 articles. Produced and distributed weekly newsletter to shareholders in four countries.”

 
Format Your Information:

Decide how best to emphasize certain pieces of information (i.e., job title, employer) with the use of bold type, italics, and/or capitalization. Simplicity is, at times, most effective. Balance text with white space on the page and avoid wasting space with “orphans”/”widows” (a single word or two taking up an entire line). If you are submitting your resume electronically, avoid using any special features - plain text is best.


Step 5 - Get Your Resume Reviewed:

Initial review can be done by Peer Advisors as well as by professional staff. A review may result in approval and/or recommendations for improvement (see “Resume Review vs. Approval” below).

 

Step 6 - Polish Your Resume:

Meet with a career counselor and/or professional in your field of interest for an industry-specific critique.

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Resume Review vs. Approval

Peer Advisors and professional staff can 1) approve resumes and 2) review resumes, providing individualized feedback in consideration of your goals.

You can make an appointment for a resume review by a Peer Advisor at any time during the school year. In your appointment, your PA will give you feedback on the format and content of your resume. He/or she will help you correct mistakes and bring your resume up to the next level.

You can also request to have your resume approved as part of an appointment. Resume approval is only required as part of a small number of Career Center programs. Resumes can be approved if they meet the “acceptable” standard as outlined by the resume rubric. But remember, approval does not necessarily mean that your resume is the best it can be – there are often steps you can take to bring your resume to the “goal” level. The Career Center is here to help and guide you, but ultimately it is your responsibility to make your resume as professional as possible for prospective employers and networking purposes.

In many cases, getting a resume ready for approval will take more than one appointment. Please plan ahead to allow yourself time to make the necessary changes for approval and/or the recommended changes for a professional/ competitive resume.

Although it is not a requirement, we recommend getting your resume approved once each year prior to submission through HamNET. The Career Center reserves the right to withhold from employers any resume that has not been approved.

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Tips for Success

  • Be honest; do not exaggerate, but shine when you should!
  • Include only those experiences about which you could comfortably talk with an employer.
  • Be consistent in your use of headings, verbs, grammar, hyphens, indentations, bullets, and format.
  • Avoid use of pronouns (I, my, their, his/her), and abbreviations (other than two-letter state codes).
  • Minimize use of articles (the, an, a) and prepositions (of, for, in, with).
  • Check for and eliminate misspelled words, typos, and grammatical errors!
  • Update your resume each time you change responsibilities.
  • If an employer has requested “snail mail”, use bond paper and matching envelopes. Print on a good quality laser printer or at the Print Shop. White or light-colored paper is preferred.
  • List the names, titles, addresses, and phone numbers of references on a separate sheet. Refer to the “Guide to Submitting References” in the Career Center library.
  • When submitting your resume electronically, avoid using any special features - plain text is best.
  • Make sure to safe the file as a PDF before sending to a potential employer to avoid formatting issues.
A great resume is a “living” document. You should be updating it frequently, and have it critiqued at least once a year!

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Tips for Targeting Your Resume

Targeted resumes are different from general resumes in the way that they should effectively highlight your most relevant and impressive experiences in relation to the employer’s needs. Targeting your resume before submitting it to an employer not only builds your credibility, it also helps demonstrate the strength of your candidacy to the employer. The better you are able to target your resume, the higher your chances will be of securing an interview with the employer.

  • Your experiences do not need to be divided between paid and unpaid. Instead, find the similarities that existbetween your experiences and group similar material together in a way that will showcase your strengths. Consider creating sections that are topically-specific and relevant to the position (ie. Publishing Experience, Mentoring Experience, Experience with Youth, etc). Sections containing the most relevant content should be placed higher up on the page.
  • The sections of your resume should be ordered from top to bottom in relation to their importance to the employer. Think of the top one third of the page as the ‘prime real-estate’ of your resume. Putting the most relevant experience in this portion of the page will grab the employer’s attention and strengthen your candidacy for the position to which you are applying.
  • Use bold, italics or strategic sequencing to emphasize the position title, or the name of the employer or organization depending on which the employer may consider to be more important. Just remember to be consistent about how information is presented within each section, and throughout your resume.
  • Try to work language that your target employers will recognize into your experience descriptions. Including industry jargon, and reflecting the language of a job description or organizational mission statement, will demonstrate your understanding of the employer’s needs and your knowledge of the nuances of the industry.

Two things to be careful of:

1) Be sure that you understand a term if you choose to use it in your resume, and
2) Never regurgitate the language of a job description or organizational mission statement word-for-word. Paraphrase in your own words and let your own voice shine through.

  • Because it is important to keep your resume streamlined and succinct, this means that you will have to be selective in choosing which past and experiences you will include. Keep the most relevant and recent material, and then add other non-related or past experience only if there is space for them.
  • Including a ‘Relevant Coursework’ section is a great way to show employers relevant content or skills that you have learned in the classroom. If you have taken both advanced and introductory level courses in the same discipline, include only higher-level course titles to avoid being repetitive. Including relevant coursework is especially important for students interested in the sciences but can be used by students of all disciplines.
  • Make sure that your position title accurately reflects the department or duties of your experience (ie. Marketing Intern, Production Department Intern). This is more descriptive than listing your title as just ‘intern’.
  • If you have more than one career interest, you may want to create separate targeted resumes that each serve a distinct purpose – that is why they are called targeted resumes after all!

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