Resume Writing Guide

In order to write an effective resume, think about your target audience.  Who 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.

Heading

MASTHEAD – this is the main heading at the top of your resume contains your contact information:

  • Full Name – If your preferred name is different than your given birth name, you may choose to include it here, instead of or in addition to.
  • Permanent Address and/or School Address – you may opt to use one, or both. For example, if applying for positions near your hometown, it can be an advantage to list your permanent address.
  • Telephone Number - we suggest listing one main number instead of multiple.
  • Email Address – Do not list multiple email addresses. Instead, choose one main address that you will use for your job or internship search.  Seniors: your Emory email expires within a short grace period after graduation, so we suggest using a personal email or applying for an alumni email address, here.

 

ADDITIONAL MASTHEAD SUGGESTIONS:  You may wish to also incorporate the following, if applicable:

  • Abbreviated Address – If you are worried about privacy considerations when listing your street address on a resume, some people opt to list only City and State.
  • Personal website – For students who apply for jobs that frequently request to see samples of your work, you might have a personal website, blog or other URL that contains a portfolio, or samples of your work, such as writing, photography, multimedia, and other applicable content. 
  • LinkedIn URL  - Including a link to your LinkedIn profile can also serve as an extension of your resume, as it may contain a summary of your professional background and aspirations, samples of your work, recommendations written by a former job or internship supervisors, and endorsed skills. 

Objective

OBJECTIVE – Some hiring managers prefer to see objectives on a resume but others do not – therefore, it is optional to include.  Avoid using an objective that does not clearly define your focus.  

Content can include:

  • Indicate whether you are seeking a full-time job, or an internship (summer, or spring/fall).
  • Title of the role, as specified by the target employer (or a similar title).
  • The industry sector, or sub-sector you are targeting.
  • A list of 2-3 primary skills relevant to the position.  Focus on the skills you offer, not what you hope to gain from the position. 

Do not include:

  • The specific name of the target employer (you want to create the impression of being a proactive job seeker, considering multiple opportunities within your reader’s industry sector
  • Do not use personal pronouns like “I” and “my” anywhere on your resume.

Sample Objective:

  • “To obtain a summer marketing internship within the Environmental sector, utilizing strong communication, research, and analytical skills.”

DECIDING WHEN TO USE, OR OMIT THE “OBJECTIVE”:

  • When submitting a cover letter with your resume, this additional document will indicate all of the above, in greater detail. In this instance, you may choose to omit the OBJECTIVE on your resume.
  • When attending a Career Fair or networking event where you will be speaking with multiple people, an OBJECTIVE on your resume serves to let them know which industries or roles you are targeting.
  • When completing your graduate or professional school or scholarships/fellowships applications, an OBJECTIVE may not be necessary on your resume. The personal statement and/or essays required eliminates the need for it.

Education

EDUCATION

  • Academic Institutions – List Emory University at the top, directly followed by Atlanta, GA as the location. You may also include Study Abroad Institutions, Prior Universities, and High School – arranged in order by graduation date, from most recent to oldest. NOTE: Typically high school is listed on a freshman or sophomore resume, opting to omit following sophomore year.  However, including high school throughout college is a personal choice and may be viewed as beneficial based on school reputation or proximity to the school to the jobs or internships you are targeting.
  • Degree(s) being sought / degrees earned – Degrees should be listed in reverse chronological order beginning with the most recent. List the type of degree (ie. Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Business Administration, etc.), along with the corresponding academic major(s). This can also include minor, concentration(s). For example Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, minor in Spanish
  • Graduation Dates – Provide only the month and year you plan to graduate from Emory (not a date range for your full time here). You may use a date range to describe time spent at another institution if you transferred to Emory.  Use month and year only to refer to High School diploma. NOTE: It is unnecessary to include “Expected graduation” before listing the month and year.
  • GPA – Including the GPA is optional, and typically this is your Cumulative GPA.  Some people suggest omitting GPA if below a 3.0, while others suggest including it regardless, for transparency.  Another alternative is to include Major GPA if that is higher than your cumulative and you feel it is more representative of the position you are seeking.  NOTE: GPA can be represented with one, or two decimal points (ie. 3.0 or 3.25) and should reflect your current GPA as indicated by OPUS.  A major GPA is not calculated on OPUS; seek help from your academic department advisor if you would like assistance.
  • Academic Honors – Can include items such as Dean’s List (with the number of semesters); honor societies; and, scholarships.
  • Related coursework – Selected courses that are relevant to the hiring manager’s needs. List courses by name, not course number. Keep this list short (2-6 courses, or two full lines on the page,  is a good rule-of-thumb). If an employer wishes to see a full academic transcript, they will request it. 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.

Experience

EXPERIENCE

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
  • Research
  • Volunteer opportunities
  • Extracurricular activities (Greek organizations, Professional Societies, Clubs, SGA)

TAILORING YOUR RESUME

Sending the same version of your resume to every position you’re applying for does not always work well, particularly if the roles you are seeking are significantly different from one another. 

Tailoring happens in two main ways: 1) The way you group experiences on the page; and, 2) How you describe the experiences in relation to what your reader’s key needs are.

STEP ONE:  Analyze the position you are applying for.  Re-read the advertised position description, then click here for a sample exercise to guide you. When you are clear about what your reader’s needs are, you are ready to look back on past experiences to determine which aspects of your background to emphasize in order to portray yourself as the right “fit” for the role.

STEP TWO:  Begin your draft resume by creating a list of all of your current and former experiences. For each item, include:

  • Name of organization
  • Your job title
  • Location of the organization (city, state), and
  • Dates employed – use both a month & year as start and end dates. For example, Aug. 2017 - Dec. 2017 can be more effective than “Fall 2017” since employers do not think in terms of semesters. 

STEP THREE:  Now you’re ready to consider how you want to group information on the page.  We suggest clicking here to see an example of a traditional chronological resume vs. a tailored resume before choosing the model that works best for you. 

STEP FOUR:  Once you’ve selected your format from STEP THREE, it’s time to write strong, descriptive bullet points that tell your reader you’re the person they want to interview. Bullets emphasize the projects and tasks you worked on, their context or purpose, and what results and outcomes were achieved. They should impress upon your reader that you have the potential to “step into” the desired role and achieve success, based on what you achieved in the past. For guidance in crafting bullet points, click here for a worksheet.

Activities

ACTIVITIES

Alternate headings: “Leadership”, “Community Service”, “Extracurriculars” “Activities/Honors” - or some combination.

This section highlights campus and community involvement and leadership roles that show well-roundedness. Honors and awards can also be grouped here (or alternately under Education, underneath the respective school).

These may include:

  • Student Clubs
  • Volunteerism
  • Faith-Based Organizations
  • Fraternities and Sororities
  • Athletics
  • Conferences and Competitions
  • Honor Societies

To keep your resume to a single page (recommended for undergraduates), these items are often listed as “one-liners” without bullets – but this depends on the amount of room you have to elaborate. Just be sure to provide org name, title, location and date range, as you would for your EXPERIENCE items in the sections above.

If you have too many to list, put emphasis on college over high school activities – either way, choose the activities that have the strongest connection to your reader’s identified needs.

First and second-year students should feel comfortable including high school affiliated activities on a resume. By the time you reach your junior and senior year at Emory, your resume should reflect your collegiate experience. NOTE:  The tailored resume sample discussed earlier suggests that ACTIVITIES that are highly relevant to your reader’s needs can be grouped higher on the page under “RELATED EXPERIENCE”, utilizing bullet points to describe skills and project work, as well as results and impact of your work.  

Sometimes listing an involvement on your resume may elicit some concern about whether it may have a negative impact on the employer’s hiring decision. Though the decision is personal and yours to make - it might be helpful to reach out to a Career Center staff member if you are unsure how you want to articulate this experience on a resume or during an interview. 

Skills

SKILLS

Alternate headings: “Skills & Interests” or “Additional”.

This section is often included on a resume to help employers to easily pinpoint your areas of expertise.  Categories can be customized to reflect what you have to offer – you may use one or more:

  • Software Skills – Arrange in order of relevance to the role you are seeking and include your proficiency.
  • Foreign languages – Indicate whether written and/or conversational, as well as level(s)of fluency.
  • Programming languages – for software or web development skills, for example.
  • Laboratory skills – Spectrophotometry, PCR, and Gel Electrophoresis, for example.
  • Multimedia skills – Adobe Premiere, FinalCut, iMovie, Audacity, and GarageBand, for example.
  • Social Media skills – WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, and HootSuite, for example.
  • Certifications – these could include: driver’s licenses, CPR, Scuba, project management, SalesForce or Google Analytics, for example (typically, these require an examination).
  • Interests – This is an additional subcategory that can make you more interesting and well-rounded to a prospective employer and may facilitate a further personal connection with those you meet. These can include personal hobbies or favorite subject matter, as well as professional interests that might relate to the role you are seeking.

 With software skills, there is debate over whether to include products like Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint, or whether they are viewed as “too basic” or ubiquitous. We suggest not minimizing any software proficiency, particularly if the above are requested within the job or internship description you are seeking.

NOTE: A skills section is generally intended for concrete technical skills, rather than character traits or broader interpersonal, public speaking, time management or leadership skills that are more credible when tied to bullet points that describe a context in which they were applied. 

Additional Resume Categories

ADDITIONAL RESUME CATEGORIES

If you possess more than one of the following, it may warrant creating a new section on your resume. The ones below are typically seen on a Curriculum Vitae, or CV, and are relevant when applying for jobs within academia or research-focused roles:

  • Research Experience - if you have done significant research as an undergraduate
  • Presentations & Publications – for poster sessions at national conferences or published work in refereed journals.
  • Professional Affiliations – being a member of a professional society within a given field of work.

References

REFERENCES

“References” are people who have supervised or witnessed your work ethic and performance – either in the classroom or in a work environment – and have agreed to offer their observations and speak on your behalf to substantiate the information on your resume.

Typically, three professional references should be provided and listed on a separate page with the identical masthead you have used at the top of your resume.  Use faculty, staff, and current or former employers as references, rather than personal acquaintances.

When listing someone as a reference, include the following:

  • Name
  • Current Title
  • Organization
  • Address
  • Email
  • Phone number

Avoid listing “References available upon request” at the bottom of your resume, as this custom is now out-of-date.

Formatting Guidelines

FORMATTING GUIDELINES

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.