Purpose and Audience
A resume is a marketing tool that highlights what makes you an excellent candidate for a specific position or organization. It is a visual presentation of your best qualifications and a demonstration of your communication skills. It is flattering, and it is truthful. What makes you an ideal candidate will change based on what you are applying for- so your resume document must change too. Create a targeted and tailored version of your resume for each position you apply for. Keep your audience in mind as you choose what content to include, and the order of that content. What will be most relevant to this audience? What will they value most?
Format and visual appeal is incredibly important because on average, a person will spend 6 seconds reading your resume before they decide whether you are a fit or not. A targeted resume with professional formatting encourages the reader to go beyond that 6-second threshold and engage with your content. Pay attention to where your eyes are drawn on your document- especially how section headers and formatting choices like bolding impact the visual appeal of your document. Keep formatting consistent throughout your document so the reader easily knows where to find information. For undergraduate students, a 1-page version of your resume is generally recommended. For graduate students and students with extensive professional experience, a 2-page version may be more appropriate.
Choose the content you include, the order of that content, and the language you use to describe your experiences based on relevancy to the position you are applying for. Be as generous as you can, with a commitment to truth and integrity, in describing your skills and accomplishments. For comprehensive resume-writing tips, view our Resume Writing Handout and Skills Statement Handout. Some common content categories are:
- Experience (project experience, professional experience, research experience, leadership experience, volunteer experience, etc.)
- Involvement or Activities (if not incorporated into experience sections)
- Technical or Field-specific Skills
- Resume Tips for Designers
- Resume Tips for Veterans
- Federal Internships and Jobs Handout
- Functional Resumes Handout
- CCAPS Resume Education Section
- Students Starting to Build Experience Resume Sample
View resume samples organized by major. We encourage you to look at several samples, regardless of major, for formatting and content inspiration.