We’re happy to answer your questions about how to create a great résumé. We also encourage you to schedule an appointment for a résumé review with one of our career counselors.

Most recent graduates should confine their résumés to one page. Those with extensive professional experience, especially in education, nursing or social work, may need to use part of a second page. If your résumé goes to a second page, make sure your margins are not too wide (no more than 1″ left and right and as little as 1/2″ top and bottom). If the headings are on the left, stack the words (e.g. “Teaching” with “Experience” under it, rather than next to it). If your résumé runs over a little bit, don’t worry—your counselor will be able to help you reduce it to one page without losing anything important.

Name: Start with your NAME (we suggest upper case bold for name only), and complete contact information (address, phone, and email address).

Certifications: List professional certifications or licenses with dates received.

Education: Summarize your education in reverse order, starting with your last degree or the one you are working on now. Include school name, city, state, degree, major, date degree was–or will be–conferred, and honors. Include GPA only if 3.0 or higher.

Courses: To tailor your résumé to a specific job, you may include a list of “relevant courses.” This also fills space if you have little experience.

Honors/Awards/Activities: Use one or more categories as appropriate, highlighting achievements such as scholarships, Dean’s List, leadership roles in clubs, campus/community organizations, sports, etc.

Research: If applicable, you may include special projects or research, highlighting significant relevant classroom learning experiences: research projects, independent study, special presentations and major papers.

Experience: Your experience, regardless of how you acquired it (full time or part time jobs, internships, community or college service) is usually of the greatest interest to the reader. For each position, include the following: job title with dates of employment, employer, city, state. You can emphasize (put first) either the employers or the job titles, but be consistent. Describe your responsibilities, duties and accomplishments, preferably using a list format with bullets.

Skills: Special skills are also of great interest to employers. Indicate computer hardware and software knowledge, foreign languages fluency or technical skills. If you have several of each, use separate categories.

Interests: List interests only if you are very knowledgeable in that area.

Affiliations: List professional or volunteer affiliations/memberships (if applicable). Include any offices held.

The headings on your résumé function like the headlines in the newspaper. They can focus the reader on where certain information is located, give a summary of content, and catch the reader’s interest. If you glance at a résumé with a section heading Honors and Awards, you will reasonably assume this candidate has received honors and awards and that may motivate you to read this résumé. Since almost every employer wants people with computer skills, some may scan a pile of résumés for those with Computer Skills in bold headline type.

The exact heading you choose is important and allows you to tailor your résumé, placing the most important experiences first. If you have worked in your field, name the field in your heading (e.g., Social Work Experience or Marketing Experience). Work in related fields can be headed Related Experience. If the work is not related to your objective but you want to include it, call it Other Experience or use the name of that field. Fieldwork, Volunteer Activities, Summer Employment or Internships are other possible headings. If you include only some of your jobs, you can call it Selected Experience. Place the major categories so that the most relevant information is placed early on the résumé (top two-thirds of the first page).

Include no personal information: age, health, marital status, height, weight, religion.

Never use the first person “I” nor should you use any sentences. Eliminate all unneeded words (a, the).

Never lie or exaggerate.

Add to the eye appeal of your résumé by varying the typeface for emphasis: bold, underline, italic, UPPER CASE, etc. (Use italics for emphasis only (perhaps your job title), never for the entire résumé.) Use an attractive legible typeface such as Times or Arial, not an old-fashioned font such as Courier.

Use “bullets” (• · -) for listing items under a heading description, such as Experience.

Proofread carefully. Grammatical, content and typographical errors may eliminate you immediately from consideration for an interview. Ask others to proofread the résumé as well.

The successful résumé is one that results in interviews. Does yours present you as an accomplished person? Is it easy to read, pleasing to the eye, devoid of all errors, current, honest? 

Most recent graduates don’t need one. Include an objective only if it is very specific, unique, or necessary to clarify your job target. The objective is already clear with certifications (e.g., teachers) or majors (e.g., nursing). Some candidates may want to tailor the job objective for a specific job application. Be sure your objective addresses what you can do for the employer, not what the employer can do for you. Employers will not be impressed with “entry level,” and most will not care that you want a “challenging” position or one that “provides career growth.” They do care about additional skills or experience beyond the basic qualifications. Remember that your job target will be addressed very specifically in your cover letter. Candidates with several years of professional experience and skills related to the job may prefer to use a Summary or Profile in place of an objective.

Usually, most applicants for a particular job have the same degrees and similar work histories. The people who get the interviews are those who convey on their résumés that they have personally done many of the things that need to be done and have demonstrated the needed skills. Claiming that you have a skill is not as convincing as demonstrating how you have used the skill.

Use action verbs to describe your duties and accomplishments, depicting yourself as someone who gets the job done: one who “created… published… solved” – not one who merely “participated in” or was “responsible for.” Avoid using “assisted” – say what you did. Vary the vocabulary. For present jobs use present tense verbs and for past jobs use past tense.

Emphasize skills and experience related to the jobyou want and the employer’s needs.

When describing your experience, use detailed descriptions that give the reader a picture of you as an individual (“Adapted lesson on dinosaurs to learning styles of autistic children”) rather than vague descriptions that make you sound like everyone else (“Followed the curriculum of cooperating teacher”).

Avoid self-serving and subjective descriptions. Do include occupation-specific words related to the job, especially if résumé will be scanned for an electronic résumé bank.

Quantify accomplishments by citing numbers, dollars, percentages, etc., where appropriate.

A CV is a special type of résumé traditionally used within the academic community and sometimes in the medical and legal fields. It is useful not only for a job search but also for tenure review, grant applications, fellowships or consulting. Academic hiring is frequently a long process done by a committee. Thus the CV may be reviewed by many individuals.

The CV need not be confined to one page, like the typical business résumé, nor does it have to be any longer than necessary to highlight your strengths and achievements. It generally includes degrees, teaching and research experience, publications, presentations and related activities. When applying for positions outside of academia, a résumé will represent you better than a CV. The details of your teaching and research will probably be of less interest to the reader. Converting your CV to a résumé will usually require major revisions.

Like your résumé, your CV is a work in progress. Instead of merely keeping it current, you should delete things that no longer relate to your objective, create new categories to show your achievements and reorganize sections to emphasize strengths related to the job you seek.

Terms of Use: The Center for Career and Professional Development at Adelphi University acts only as an information service. The office does not endorse any individual employer and cautions you to ask appropriate questions to be sure that the position is right for you. The center makes no recommendations or guarantees about the positions or employers listed through our office or about those who visit campus to meet students or alumni. Students and/or alumni are responsible for verifying the credentials and integrity of the employer. Adelphi’s Center for Career and Professional Development is not responsible for safety, wages, working conditions or other aspects of off-campus employment. Jobs and internships posted on Handshake may not be reviewed before posting. Site users are urged to validate job postings and use caution and common sense when applying. Do not disclose security numbers, credit card information or bank account numbers to unknown employers. This website also contains links to other websites that are not under control of the University or the Center for Career and Professional Development. The University and the Center for Career and Professional Development are not responsible for any error or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. Site users who discover any misuse or abuse of this service are encouraged to report the matter as soon as possible.
The Center for Career and Professional Development does not guarantee a student or alumnus will obtain an internship or job opportunity.
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