Review these tips and videos to help build your resume.
- Watch "Resume 101" webshop.
- View "Resume Outline" handout for an example of what to include in your resume.
- View "Resumes Samples by College" for examples of major specific resumes.
- In general, limit your resume to one page. However, if applying for a federal position, longer resumes are expected (See Tips for Writing a Federal Resume).
- Keep margins ideally at 0.75"-1".
- Use traditional, clean fonts sized 10-12. Use of bolding is OK for section headings and job titles.
- Avoid using vertical or horizontal lines, graphics, italics, and columns.
- Proofread carefully for grammatical, punctuation, and spelling errors.
- Make sure verb tense is correct. Use present tense for current jobs and past tense for past jobs.
What is the difference between a resume and a Curriculum Vitae (CV)?
A CV is generally used when applying to Graduate School or when applying to a job in Academia. In addition, several countries, such as Canada and the UK use the CV instead of the resume so you may need a CV if applying to jobs internationally. Check out our Curriculum Vitae resources on our Graduate School Resources page for additional assistance on putting together a CV.
Tailoring Your Resume
Before submitting your resume, make sure you tailor it if necessary. Review the employer and job description, find out what main skills, qualities and keywords they are seeking. Then, do your best to match your resume to them.
Applicant Tracking Systems
- Did you know that a large majority of companies use a software application - called an applicant tracking system (ATS) - to scan and narrow down resumes based on the job description? View this guide on "How to Maximize ATS Scoring."
- Watch "Marketing Your Skills for Success: Accomplishment Statements" video.
- Use accomplishment statements for projects and experience.
- Quantify whenever possible, such as number of customers you served, classmates you presented to, or percentage of increase in profit.
- Example: "Managed annual club budget" to "Managed annual budget of $5000 for marketing and executing events, resulting in a 20% increase in club members"
- View "Action Verbs" handout for a list of verbs to start.
- Use the S.T.A.R. (Situation/Task/Action/Results) method or learn from Google Executive Laszlo Bock's formula for writing a winning resume.
- View "Examples of Accomplishment Statements" handout for more ideas.
- View "Marketing Your Global Experience" handout for tips on maximizing study, volunteer, or work abroad experiences.
- View "Transferable Skills" handout for a list of skills you can use.
- Demonstrate the "Top Attributes Employers Want to See on Resumes."
- Highlight transferable skills such as leadership, communication, and teamwork in projects and experience.
- When using experience not directly in your field, focus on transferable skills to keep it relevant.
- Learn more about using transferable skills, as well as the top 10 skills employers want.
- Review University Learning Goals to track experiences and transferable skills to continually update your resume.
Marketing Your Brand
Besides your resume, make sure you always submit a cover letter. A cover letter is a nice introduction to who you are, why you want the job and your qualifications. We also share other ways to market your brand such as creating a portfolio or LinkedIn account.
- Use cover letters to bring your skills and experience to life.
- Keep cover letter to 3 paragraphs highlighting: why you are applying for the job, examples of your top qualifications, and why that company is of interest to you.
- View "Internship Cover Letter Sample" or "Job Cover Letter Sample."
- Learn more about how to write cover letters.
- How do you stand out? See "31 Attention-Grabbing Cover Letter Samples" for inspiration.
- Create an online portfolio at Portfolium by logging in using your SJSU email. For more help on using Portfolium, click here.
- Watch "Marketing Your Skills for Success: Online Portfolios" video to learn more about how to create an online portfolio.
- View "Portfolium Top 10 Tips" handout to learn about how to maximize your online portfolio.
- Use LinkedIn as an extended portfolio and include the personalized URL to your profile on your resume.
- Learn more about how to use your LinkedIn profile.
- Employers may request that you provide them with references. These are people who can speak positively about your accomplishments and work ethics.
- Avoid using family members and friends on your reference list. Ask current and former employers, supervisors, professors or mentors.
- Learn more about creating a reference list.
Additional Writing Help
The SJSU Writing Center can help you improve your professional writing skills, and their Writing Specialists assist SJSU students with any type of writing (including resumes, cover letters, and personal statements). Schedule a tutoring session, attend a workshop, and/or use their valuable online resources.
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