Developing a resume

A resume gives potential employers a brief overview of your professional skills and experience, and is often the first tool hiring managers use to determine whether to invite you to an interview.

A man in a suit holding a resume and a cane shakes the hand of a woman

Even if you’ve never had a job, it helps to develop a basic, chronological resume that you can continue to add to as you acquire more experience and expertise.

A formal resume is typically one full-sized (8.5×11) printed sheet with a minimum of white space. The font you use should be easy to read – something like Arial or Verdana – sized at 12 point and single spaced. Use white or cream colored paper to print a resume. If you submit a resume electronically, be sure that you follow these same guidelines for style and size as many employers print out resumes they receive.

If you don’t yet have enough work/life experience to fill a resume, gather together whatever experience you do have and use it when completing job applications.

Here’s how to get started:

  1. Let them know how to reach you. Write down the personal contact information that you will need to share with any prospective employer:
    • Your full name (if you use a nickname, include it in quotes after your legal first name)
    • Your street address including the postal code
    • Your telephone number including the area code and your email address (be sure you have a professional email address – do not use anything cutesy or possibly offensive).Center this information at the top of your page.
  2. Share your educational history. Under the heading “Education”:
    • Write down your educational experiences starting with most recent.
    • Include the schools you attended, their addresses, years you attended, and any degrees or certifications you’ve received.
  3. List prior jobs. Under the heading “Work Experience”:
    • Write down your work experiences (paid and volunteer) from most recent to earliest
    • Include the names and addresses of the companies where you worked, your immediate supervisors and their contact information, time (months and years) you worked with each company, your job title and your primary duties (put these in the proper tense and use action verbs to describe what you did).
  4. Include your professional skills. Under the heading “Work-related skills or accomplishments”:
    • Write down any special skills or talents that you have and/or accomplishments.
    • Gear this listing to the types of abilities that employers want in job candidates (for example, computer skills, social competencies and work habits).
  5. Describe your hobbies and activities. Under the heading “Community Service”:
    • Write down your involvement in extracurricular activities and community efforts. This is where you can capture your work for school fundraising projects, scouting activities, participation with sport or cultural teams or artistic ensembles, other membership organizations, secular or religious activities and events where you have made a contribution.
  6. List references. Under the heading “References”:
    • Prepare a listing of three to five professional references – not family members – who can speak about your work skills and habits. Be sure to ask these individuals for permission to use them as references and ask what contact information they would like you to share with others.
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