Writing a résumé: Tips and hints to make yourself look good on paper
When going to the BOC or TOC, it is important to have a strong résumé to make you stand out from all the other candidates — in a good way, of course. Here are some short, informal guidelines for those who have never written a résumé before.
In the heading, the name comes first, and you want that to be the most prominent part. Make it noticeable, under 40 point font, and either left-align or center-align it. A bold name in a formal serif (Garamond, Jenson, Trajan) will suffice. The address at which the writer receives most of his or her mail, as well as a phone number and email address, should also be in the heading. If you have a personal website, list it there as well.
The education section is where you should put intended majors or minors (if relevant), expected graduation date, and the name and location of your school. Once in college, you should try to avoid placing your high school on your résumé. You can include your college GPA if it is high — especially if you are a Dean’s List honoree. If your GPA is poor, leave it off — if recruiters really want to know, they will ask.
Here is the trickiest — and most important — part of your résumé. When listing your experiences, you should choose the ones that connect your skills to the qualifications that the job asks for. However, don’t copy full-length sentences from the job advertisement.
What you should do is try to articulate your skills in a way that sounds similar to the skills the employer is looking for in a candidate. Eliminate use of the first-person (“I did ...”) if possible, and don’t forget to use active verbs when listing the tasks your job entailed. For example, “Flipped burgers” (don’t put that on your résumé) is the correct verb form to use. You should also try to use bulleted lists to make it easier to scan the information. And stay concise — no one wants to read eight paragraphs about your retail experience.
In some cases, your activities might even be more relevant than your actual work experience, and should thus be as boldly and centrally placed. You should try your best to list your most relevant activities. For example, if you are applying for a web design internship, list related activities: copy-writing, search engine optimization, or visual design experience, to give a few examples.
As for other extra-curricular activities, you should highlight activities you’re involved in — a club for which you only attended a single meeting doesn’t count. As always, either cut out irrelevant information or find a way to tie it into the way you sell yourself.
This is where you advertise any skills that haven’t been addressed in the other sections. Be sure you are actually advertising real skills, not generic qualities that anyone can claim. List languages you speak and languages you code in. List a hobby or two that an interviewer might connect with and use to better understand you as a person.
Take your résumé seriously, and have someone like an adviser look over it because their advice will be tremendously valuable. If you don’t, you could make silly mistakes, and your résumé might be perceived as a joke. It will provide the employer with a good laugh, but that is probably not what you are aiming for. Try to be professional, or at least try not to do something foolish.