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Resume Writing

The purpose of the resume is not to secure a job offer, but rather to obtain an interview. Resumes must be a clear and concise summary of qualifications that demonstrate a match between your ability and potential contributions to the position for which you are applying.  The desired outcome is to produce a one-page resume that will elicit excitement as to your candidacy.

Purpose of a Resume

The number one purpose of a resume is to secure an interview.  Your resume is an advertisement that will allow you to effectively market yourself.  The resume succeeds if it helps you pass the initial screening process.  Used to apply for employment, internships, graduate or professional schools, fellowships, or scholarships, it is an outline of your skills and experiences that clarifies direction, qualifications, and strengths.   A resume also provides background information for those you are networking with.  

Getting Started

In order to write an effective resume, think about your target audienceWho is the reader?  What’s important to him/her in selecting a strong candidate? The most effective resumes are clearly focused on a specific opportunity and addresses the organization's stated requirements for the role.

Relate to your reader's needs.  Brainstorm ALL of your experiences.  Consider your accomplishments, including work experience, volunteer, internship, research, study abroad, co-curricular and classroom activities.  Also consider computer skills, foreign language ability, certifications, presentations, publications, professional association memberships, honors - even travel.  Now that you have all the content identified, it's time to put it in a structured format.

Common Resume Sections

Heading, Objective, Education, Experience, Honors, Activities, Skills, Additional. Other headings: Leadership, Professional Memberships, Volunteer Experience, Publications and Research. 

Heading (Identification)

Begin with your contact information: Full Name, Permanent Address, School Address, Telephone Number(s), Email Address, website (if applicable).  Make sure that all contact information is current. Sample Heading (boxes provided for this document to highlight examples – you would not include your sections in a text box on the actual resume):



Although optional, objective statements show employers the position and industry you are targeting.  You can include skills relevant to the position.  Focus on the skills you offer, not what you hope to gain from the position.  Some recruiters prefer to see objectives on a resume but others do not.  Avoid using an objective that does not clearly define your focus.  Remember: Using an objective is optional.  



In this section, include any information about your degree(s), including where and when you graduated; date(s); major, minor, or concentration; and certification(s). Degrees should be listed in reverse chronological order beginning with the most recent.  Including the GPA is optional.  A 3.0 or above is a good rule to follow.  If you include your GPA in your major and your overall GPA, list the highest one first. If you studied abroad for a semester or longer, include the name of the school, its location, and the dates you were there.  Optionally, you may include courses you studied or the focus/concentration of your program. 


Note: Honors, awards, courses, or activities may each have a subsection in this area or their own separate sections, depending on how relevant it is to your job focus.

High School Information

Juniors and seniors should limit high school information on a resume unless: You received a significant award, your high school activities are very relevant to your career objective, and you are networking with an alumnus/a from your high school.


This section may include a variety of activities.  It is not limited to paid work experience:

  • Paid or unpaid internships and work study positions                        
  • Part-time or full-time employment                 
  • Independent study
  • Extensive volunteer opportunities
  • Co-curricula activities (Greek organizations, Professional Societies, Clubs, SGA)

The structure of the experience section depends on the types of positions you seek.  Use this section to highlight the opportunities in which you have demonstrated leadership, initiative, or competence in an area.  Be factual in your descriptions but include information that enhances the job description.  Analyze each experience in terms of your responsibilities and outcomes.  Most importantly, include information most relevant to your potential employers. 

Example – “Responsible for planning all events” could be described as:

“Planned 15 events for staff and clientele including formal dinners, social engagements, and professional development activities”

Example – “Sales assistant in a brokerage firm involved in research” might be written as:

“Research client accounts valued in excess of $250,000”

Attempt to quantify your accomplishments by using numbers, dollar amounts, and percentages  (20 DAYS, $7665 and 56%).  This helps the reader to evaluate the scope of your duties.  Stress your achievements.  Begin each description using action verbs and incorporate present tense verbs to describe current positions and past tense verbs for previous positions.  List your experiences in reverse chronological order (most recent to least recent).

For each position include:

Name of organization, your job title, location of the organization (city, state), and dates employed. Using month & year, Aug. 2013 - Dec. 2013 can be more effective than  “Fall 2013” since employers do not think in terms of semesters.  Describe your skills and accomplishments, such as contributions to the organization, and how your work helped to increase profit, funding, motivation, efficiency, and productivity. Consider what problems you faced and what solutions you found. Do not list every position that you have ever had.  List the most relevant experiences for a particular employer. If you desire a one-page resume and you need more space, try the “paragraph” format, using commas, semi-colons, or periods to separate each description.

You may choose to split up your experiences into two different categories: Related Experience and Additional Experience. This allows you to emphasize those experiences that directly address the needs and skills of the position, while still including additional experiences that demonstrate valuable transferable skills, but may not be directly relevant to the position.

Additional Experience


Co-curricula activities, such as professional associations, Greek organizations, athletics, SGA, College Council, student organizations, honor societies (like Psy Chi or Mortar Board), can be listed separately from your experience section.  Identify leadership roles that you held in these organizations.  If you have too many to list, choose the activities that have the strongest connection to the type of job you seek. 

You can present these activities in much the same way that work experience is formatted:

Emory Yearbook, Dooley’s Diary                                                         Atlanta, GA
Editor-in-Chief                                                                      October 2012 – May 2013

  • Created layouts on Adobe PageMaker
  • Managed a staff of 75 students comprised of editors, photographers, and writers
  • Worked with administration to procure funding and office and meeting spaces
  • Generated $50,000 from yearbook sales

You may also choose to list activities without detailed descriptions:


Providing information about your political or religious organizations, or personal interests may be uncomfortable to discuss in an interview.  If so, leave them off.  If you choose to list those activities, emphasize relevant skills developed.


These sections can enhance your prospects for employment.  These categories are optional and may allow employers to easily pinpoint your areas of expertise.  Special qualifications and skills include:

  • Computer Skills (languages, hardware, software)
  • Foreign languages you can read, speak, or write
  • Certifications (such as specific examinations passed)
  • Presentations or publications (at national conferences or in refereed journals)
  • Honors (May be listed in a separate section or with your education)
    • Dean’s List, scholarships, awards
  • Relevant Coursework



Place your references on a separate page. Generally, employers ask for three references.  Use faculty, staff and employers as references, not personal acquaintances. Include the name, title, company name, address, email and phone number for each reference. Leave off the phrase, “References available upon request.”

Information To Omit

Do not include personal information such as: Photographs, graphics, or images, social security number (unless applying for a U.S. Government position), date of birth, height, weight, health, and marital status