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A resume is your promotional brochure. Its function is to qualify you for an interview. Most employers only take 30 seconds to read your resume.

Your resume should be tailored for the position you are applying for.

The following information may assist you in building your resume. Remember that the CDC offers resume critiquing.


Assess your interests, skills, abilities, experiences, and personal characteristics. Envision what the employer wants. Are they looking for people with a lot of experience in one area or those who have general experience in many areas? Are they looking for people who are willing to work their way up the ladder? Do they want someone who is willing to travel? Consider and list competencies and/or career related skills to be used on your resume. Skills can be acquired through any activities and/or jobs you have been involved in. If you are having difficulty, think about a job you have had and recall your day-to-day activities. Are those skills relevant to the job you are applying for? If so, list them.

Choose a Format

There are three types of resumes used most frequently. Each of these targets different strengths. You should choose the format that best exhibits your strengths.


  • Traditional format that starts with listing your most recent experience
  • Most effective for individuals who have quality work and employment
  • Shows past employers and titles that are notable
  • Draws attention to promotions and other elevation in work history


  • Skills and qualifications are categorized by function
  • Most effective in stressing skills established in non-work experiences
  • Easier to navigate around overlapping work
  • Can use experiences gained in classrooms
  • Used when applying for a position in which you have no direct experience


  • Merges the Traditional and Functional formats in order to cater to your skills
  • Used when employers need your work history and related skills
  • A good choice when your most recent work history is not your most  relevant

What To Include In Your Resume

  • Personal Data: Name, address, phone number, and email (if checked regularly).
  • Personal Objective (optional): Make a concise, positive statement about your work goals. Indicate job title, geographic preference if there is one, and type of job (part time, full time, internship, and summer/seasonal). The more focused your objective is the better. If you are applying for a diverse group of jobs, consider leaving the objective of the resume and explain your interests in your cover letter.
  • Education: Name, city, and state; degree, major, minor and/or area of concentration; date of graduation (month and year) or expected date of graduation; other colleges attended (optional); accomplishments; GPA if at least 3.0.
  • Work History/Experience: Job title, place of employment, city, state, and dates of employment with most recent job first; describe job clearly highlighting relevant skills in short concise statements; always use high impact adverbs and qualifying adjectives; quantify when possible (ex. increased sales by 15%, describes experience as it correlates to position).
  • Competencies or Career Related Skills: Consider the following subheadings of skills: financial, communication, creative, computer, writing, leadership, and foreign e skills.
  • Related Professional Information: Licenses and certificates currently held; honors, scholarships, awards and fellowships earned; professional organization memberships and offices held; publications; affiliations with civic and community groups/volunteer work; extracurricular activities/leadership; internship/externship experiences.
  • References: You may list "Available Upon Request" if you have room. Otherwise, do not include as most employers will assume that you will have a separate reference list available at the interview. Remember to ask permission from your references to use their name and information. You may also want to provide a copy of your resume to your references. Learn more about references.
    Download a Sample References Page (WORD DOCUMENT) 
  • Printing: Use high quality paper that is white or off-white.

Scannable Resumes

Many employers maintain a database of resumes that tracks skills, education, and experience and matches those resumes with openings and opportunities. Due to the technology-based nature of this Applicant Tracking System (ATS), resumes should be formatted and written in such away that the scanners can easily load your information into the database. This means that the traditional format for resumes will not work. Your resume should still include different sections, but all of the text will need to be aligned on the left without bullets or lines.

To learn more about scannable (ATS-friendly) resumes, use the following resources:

Tools for Resumes

Additional Resources