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Career Services

Tips For Designing a Successful Resume


  • Include a job objective, clearly and concisely and focus your resume on your future objective to show the employer "where I am going," not "where I have been or where I am now" (Optional)
  • Include experience/skills directly related to job objective
  • Start each sentence with an action word
  • List all related experience . . . paid or unpaid. Include experience from internships, school activities and committees such as organizing fundraising events, sorority/fraternity treasurer or social chairperson, etc.
  • Keep your resume down to one or two pages
  • Know your audience - use the vocabulary and speak the language of your targeted field.
  • Write your job objective from the standpoint of what you can offer your prospective employer and company.
  • Describe your experiences from an accomplishment point-of-view.
  • Present all information positively: if anything could possibly be interpreted negatively, either don't use it, or rewrite it with a positive perspective. Don't present an easy reason to eliminate you from consideration. But don't lie, either.
  • Utilize strong, active words for emphasis. For example:
    Action Verbs - achieved, expedited, managed.
    Concrete Nouns - ability, capacity, leader.
    Positive Modifiers - actively, substantially, effectively.
  • Make your resume easy to read or scan. Leave plenty of open space. Eliminate all typos! Use a layout and lettering that allows easy viewing.
  • Test your resume for relevancy - all information should directly support your job objective or work abilities. If it doesn't, leave it out.
  • Develop and maintain a list of references, and have it available upon request. Don't include it in mailings unless instructed to do so.
  • Make sure that the information in your cover letter (employer name, title, address, position applied for) is completely accurate.
  • Keep it short! The longer your resume is, the less it will be read.

Your resume is designed to help you get an interview. It should present your qualifications in an interesting and efficient manner and many consider it to be the key instrument in the job campaign. Candidates for jobs spend hours developing their resume. Here are some of the ways you can make your resume more successful.

  • Slant Your Qualifications - A resume differs from a job application which asks details on your background. On a resume you may select materials from your experiences or background to highlight.
  • Point Out Achievements - Rather than merely listing what you have done, as on an application form, highlight your achievements on a job or other situations which reflect your abilities. As manager of a school yearbook, for example, did you produce a bigger, better, more timely, or on-time publication?
  • Create a Work of Art - A resume should look attractive with a good combination of subheads, lists, and other techniques to make the information stand out. It should be presented on high-quality paper and invite reading.
  • Revise It Frequently - Don't get wedded to a single resume or stand pat once developed. Jobs have different requirements and you may want to revise your resume. Keep in mind the description of the position sought and present your qualifications to match it.
  • Use a Good Cover Letter - Your resume isn't the only paper upon which you will be judged. An effective letter of application, with content coordinated with the resume, is needed to help insure that your qualifications will stand out.
  • Your Resume Should Introduce You - Someone has said that a resume is like a book jacket. It is designed to be attractive and to make the reader want to know more. Try to make your background sound interesting by including some personal things: honors or prizes, athletic or other skills, hobbies and special interests, etc.
  • Stress Past Employment - Employers like people who have worked - even in summer, volunteer, or part-time positions. No need to describe your duties in detail but do give examples of the kinds of work you have done to show that you are used to job requirements.
  • Benefit From The Experience Of Others - There are dozens of good books on resumes in the library. Look at several and pick up ideas on content, layout, and use of strong action verbs. Ask counselors or others to review your draft resume and make suggestions.
    Prepared by the Career Opportunities News, PO Box 190, Garrett Park, MD 20896


  • Don't use long, repetitive explanations
  • Don't include personal history
  • Don't forget to include your GPA under education, if it's a 3.5 or higher
  • Don't list references on resume - put references available upon request and use separate sheet to list them
  • Don't include high school education or activities