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Career Basics: The Resume

The main purpose of the resume is to to get you an interview. Your resume should summarize your relevant experiences and education. The average employer spends 20-30 seconds on a resume at first glance. Your job is to make your resume scream look at me a little longer. This involves making your resume look good as well as contain good information.

The Parts of a Resume

Unlike the cover letter, the parts of a resume are not cut and dry. This list suggests possible parts you may want to add to your resume. You will not have room for all of them and some are redundant, so select which ones are best for you.

  • Name and Relevant Information - Include your name, address, phone, and email in this section. If you also have a work address, include this as well. Dual addresses can be located on opposite sides of the page. Use a slightly larger or bolded font for your name, but do not go overboard.
  • Objective / Goals / Professional Interest - This section should include the type of job you want and which field you are interested in. You could also indicate the type of organization you would like to work in. The objective should be no more than three lines and reasonably specific.
  • Summary Statement / Skills Summary - This section can be a one or two sentence statement of your outstanding credentials and skills. Alternatively, you can list highlights in a bulleted list. Try to limit the length of this section, don't let it override the other sections of your resume.
  • Education - Include the name of each institution, location, year of graduation or expected graduation, major or area of degree, and minor, QPA, or special honors. This section is usually arranged in reverse chronological order.
  • Experience - This is one of the most important parts of your resume. List each relevant experience, dates of employment, location, position, and job description. A job description should be to the point and relevant. List those aspects of the position that make you stand out from the crowd. Use action verbs. It is even okay not to use complete sentences for the sake of brevity. Be sure to include nontraditional experiences, such as volunteer, outreach, or extracurricular. List experiences in reverse chronological order or in order of relevance.
  • Publications - If you have any, make a section for publications. This an excellent way to sell yourself. Be sure to use full citations.
  • Computer Experience / Computer Skills - Be brief, no more than two or three lines. Include the basics as well as any technical software and hardware you have used. You should also include your proficiency level with more difficult software packages.
  • Technical Experience / Technical Skills - Be specific. This is your chance to stand out. List equipment and techniques you have used in lab or during undergraduate research. The items you list here will allow the employer to see which things they will not need to train you for.
  • References Available - Indicate the "References are Available Upon Request." Do not include references on the resume itself.


  • General Appearance - It is impossible to express the importance of a clean and well organized resume. If a resume appears to be sloppy, the employer will promptly file it in the garbage can. Another negative of sloppy resumes, is that they do not scan well. This technology is very common now, so be aware. Take a good look at your resume when you are finished and ask yourself, "Does it look good?"
  • Fonts - Fonts on a resume should range from 10pt for some common fonts to 14pt for your name or a header. Use normal fonts, these are the easiest to read and are recognized by most scanners. Do not use any italics, underlining or shadows. If you need some variety, use a bold or all caps Helvetica for your titles and Times for your other text, or put your name in a slightly creative font.
  • Spacing and Length - Space on a resume is a balancing act. You want the page to appear full. Large white spaces imply that you did not have enough to include on your resume. Yet, you do not want your page so tight that it is impossible to read and looks too busy. Try to have a little white space, but not large sections. As for length, most resumes are one page. If you have a lot of experience or have worked in the field for many years, it is acceptable to go on to two pages.
  • Use Action Verbs - For all experiences and many skills parts, it is very important to use good action verbs. Action verbs highlight your experiences in quantitative ways. You want to be very specific and use as few words as possible; action verbs are the answer.


These example resumes should not be copied. It is to your advantage to figure out which parts of various resumes fit your needs and personality most, not to copy one particular example. The names, address, descriptions, etc, in these resumes are entirely fictitious.

Example 1 - Good

Example 2 - Good

Example 3 - Poor

Example 4 - Poor