Resume Guidelines

Resume Guidelines

Your resume is intended to be a verbal picture of you, designed both to give an employer your factual data and to create and leave a favorable impression. It connects you, the prospective employee, with the employer, so it must be written in a language commonly understood by both. Put yourself in the shoes of the person who will be reading your resume and write it from that perspective.

We could throw some frightening statistics at you, like employers spend less than a minute screening a resume and then discard 95-99% of those screened. Rather than become discouraged by such ominous numbers, however, recognize the importance of attracting the employer's interest through a concise, attractive presentation. It is crucial that your resume reflects your personality and individuality, yet there are general principles which should serve as guidelines regardless of your choice of format or style. It is also important to remember that resumes may be "general" (useful for seeking positions in a variety of career fields) or "job specific" (a stated objective is usually present at the beginning of this type of resume). Resumes that are job specific tend to get the best results. Often, people have more than one resume; each emphasizes particular skills and experiences.


  • check-mark Use phrases starting with action verbs

  • check-mark Use language that creates vivid word pictures for potential employers

  • check-mark While being descriptive, keep explanations as concise as possible

  • check-mark Use quantities, amounts, and dollar values whenever they enhance the description of your accomplishments

  • check-mark Use quantities, amounts, and dollar values whenever they enhance the description of your accomplishments

Don't s

  • check-mark Use the personal pronoun "I" (There are occasional exceptions to this rule)

  • check-mark Use phrases like "Responsible for" and "Was in charge of." Do not say what you were supposed to do, say what you did

  • check-mark Include personal data such as height, weight, health, age or marital status

  • check-mark Use quantities, amounts, and dollar values whenever they enhance the description of your accomplishments

  • check-mark Include a photograph unless requested

  • check-mark Include salary information or address of prior employer; the name of the company and city and state where it is located is sufficient

  • check-mark Have any typos or any grammatical errors

General Appearance


Always use a simple easy-to-read font such as Times, Palatino or Geneva. As a general rule, no font size on your resume should be smaller than 10 point. Your name should be the largest font size on your resume. A good range, depending on which font you use, is between 16 and 22 points


Your margins depend on how much information you are trying to put onto your resume. Left and right side margins should always be the same size. As a general rule, margins should be no smaller than .5 inches and no larger than 1 inch.


List your name and both a campus and a permanent address and phone number at the top of your resume page. Your name can be between 16 pt and 22 pt size font; you want potential employers to remember who you are. After graduation only your permanent address is necessary. If you check e-mail regularly, list this address as well.


Job titles and places where you have worked may be emphasized in bold type, CAPITAL LETTERS, italics, or be underlined. Keep in mind that consistency plays a vital role in a positive appearance. If you plan to highlight your "Education" heading with bold type and capitalization, be sure that your corresponding titles (e.g. Objective, Employment, Activities) are highlighted in the same fashion. Beware, however, of overemphasizing. In a sea of capital letters, bold type, and underlined words, nothing distinguishes itself from the rest.


  • dot Word processing is preferable because of its flexibility. Always use a laser printer for your copies. Be sure to use clean and simple typefaces like Times New Roman, Palatino, or Helvetica on resume quality paper. Once again, consistency is important--do not combine different typeface styles (e.g. Times New Roman, and Helvetica; however, Times New Roman bold and Times Roman italic are fine together)

  • dot Your resume should be error-free! Proof-read carefully. Ask someone else to it, too.

  • dot Always use resume paper which can be purchased at any office supply store. We recommend conservative colors (e.g. white, beige, gray, off white). If you must photocopy, always use white paper for your original copy.