Employers typically spend 7-15 seconds pre-screening a résumé to find the right candidate.
Make yours stand out.
Experience comes in a variety of forms on many fronts.
Use this checklist to help you recall projects or work you have done or are doing that may be appropriate for a résumé.
- Community involvement: Have you ever volunteered? Where?
- Work or job: Have you or do you have a part-time job? Where? Paid or unpaid?
Extra-curricular: Have you received any honors or participated in activities such as sports, clubs or memberships? Where and what did you do?
Language skills: Do you speak multiple languages? Which ones? Are you fluent?
Professional memberships and leadership: Have you attended any camps or workshops? Where and what did they involve?
Certification or licenses: Are you certified in areas such as First Aid, CPR, water safety, etc.?
Computer or technical skills: Do you know how to use any specific software or tools such as Microsoft Word, Excel, Picasa, Adobe products, etc.? List them.
Travel or study abroad: Where have you traveled or studied or served in missions?
Class presentations/projects: Have you ever had a presentation or project that you completed that you are particularly proud of? Describe it.
Military experience: Have you participated in the military? If so, list special training or education.
The purpose of a résumé is to get interviews!
A person whose qualifications closely match those sought by the employer gets the interview.
Key items for consideration
- We think the best approach is to build your résumé using Microsoft Word document (.doc). Look at our résumé samples or search online for actual résumés of professionals in your desired field, pick your favorites and use those as inspiration for your own. Avoid using a template if possible.
- Print on high quality résumé paper.
- One page only, unless you have significant related experience. Second page must be at least half full.
- Use consistent indentation, capitalization, font style, spacing and margins.
- Font should be easy to read (Helvetica or Times New Roman) 10-12 point font size.
- Margins between .5-1.0 inches.
- No personal pronouns (I, me, you, etc.).
- Gather your selling points and prioritize.
- What key qualifications do you need to highlight? Look for key skills on job descriptions that employers are looking for. Make the key items stand out.
- Use our formula for constructing bullet points that will stand out for an employer. (See below)
- Prepare, review & revise your drafts.
- Review our presentation.
Don'ts for résumés
- Don’t make it too long. Employers generally spend no more than 7-15 seconds pre-scanning résumés.
- Don’t list vague information. Tell something about your experiences.
- Don’t be negative. List the positive skills you learned.
- Don't include religion, political party or national origin.
- Don't include salary information. If requested, provide it in the cover letter.
- Don’t use a photo. It may give the wrong impression.
- Don’t list your references. If needed, an employer will request them.
- Don’t tag your résumé with an incorrect title. Be sure to change the objective each time you submit.
- Don’t ruin your résumé with a poor format. Be as neat and use high quality printing paper.
- Don't send a résumé without a cover letter.
Avoid these eight subtle mistakes.
A résumé should speak to how you as a person will fit within the employers company based on their philosophy of service. Here are a few types of experience that may help you tailor your résumé:
- Involvement in clubs.
- Professional organizations.
- Professional recognition.
- Field experiences.
- Valuable certifications.
Possible résumé headings
- Career objective.
- Professional objective.
- Educational background.
- Teaching preparation.
- Professional development.
- Relevant experience.
- Related experience.
- Work experience.
- Work history.
- Employment summary.
- Summary of qualifications.
- Highlight of qualifications.
- Honors and awards.
- Activities and achievements.
- Volunteer activities.
- Community service.
- Extra-curricular activities.
- Related skills.
- Teaching skills.
- Computer skills.
- Technical skills.
- Professional skills.
- Academic projects and skills.
- Special projects and skills.
- Additional experience.
- Contact information should be at the top of your résumé.
- Name is bolded and between 14-20 point font.
- Address information is the same font size as the main body text (11 pt).
- Email should be professional and one you check frequently (ex: NOT firstname.lastname@example.org).
- An objective states what you are looking to accomplish through your career search. When writing an objective, specifically target the position you wish to attain.
- Include degree, current or intended major, university name with city and state, and expected graduation date.
- Include GPA or major GPA (compute your GPA) if above a 3.0, deans list, study abroad experience, related coursework, previous colleges, working 20 or more hours while in school full time, and national accreditations.
- Omit high school information unless something exceptional or first-year student.
- Use “Experience” if you include unpaid position(s).
- Employers want a reverse chronological list of jobs with dates of employment.
- List the position title, followed by the name of the employer/organization, and location (city and state). Use bullets to list key skills, responsibilities and results.
- Give details. Employers want to know exactly what you did and the skills you gained.
- Check to make sure statements are in correct tense.
Activities and Achievements
- College degrees, honors, relevant experience, promotions, outstanding recommendations, leadership, community involvement, creativity, etc.
Additional skills (optional)
- This section allows you to include other relevant skills sought by employers that wouldn’t fit in other sections.
- For example, computer languages, job specific certifications, foreign languages, etc.
Action verbs for describing job functions
Clerical or Detailed Skills
Helping or Teaching Skills
It's important to match your skills to the ones employers look for when hiring.
This list of top skills sought by employers shows you how to present your skills using the successful bullet point formula:
- WHO Bullet Point = What, How (skill used), Outcome
Top skills with examples
- Developed strong interpersonal communication skills by providing quality customer service to hundreds of customers daily
- Demonstrated ability to effectively multi-task in a fast-paced work environment while maintaining accuracy and excellent customer service by serving clientele
- Provided excellent customer service to ensure a positive dining experience resulting in repeat business
- Demonstrated skills in efficiently executing cash, check, and credit transactions by operating own cash register each shift
- Established cash accountability by being in charge of large sums of money
- Reconciled monetary transactions efficiently and accurately for hundreds of customers daily, resulting in being recognized by my supervisor for outstanding customer satisfaction
- Managed office operations, including mail and staff of 3 using an open communication approach with a result of increased productivity
- Arranged records to increase functionality and efficiency of working environment
- Conducted daily inventory of over 150 items resulting being entrusted to periodically order supplies
- Trained and supervised 10 new staff in company standards and procedures successfully
- Effectively oversaw and delegated tasks to an average of 15 employees per 8 hour shift resulting in an 8% increase in productivity within the first 2 months
- Developed strong goal orientation and self-motivation skills working in a competitive environment
- Work well as a member of a team, helping to maintain a positive attitude among team members
- Learned to work effectively with managers, cooks, and other servers to help the restaurant process run smoothly
- Collaborated with department personnel using open communication to meet the needs of customers and perform daily operations of the store
- Lead dynamic campus tours and acted as a master of ceremonies for numerous student events, which resulted in increased engagement and satisfaction according to post-event surveys
- Wrote 6 individual articles, aided in writing 3 group articles as a writer for the campus publication, and helped to organize the sections of the paper by considering students’ interests
- Utilized bilingual language skills to effectively communicate with diverse populations
Strong work ethic
- Commended often for getting work done in a timely manner and with great thoroughness resulting in two promotions within a 12-month period
- Developed the ability to stay positive and enthusiastic in order to handle situations effectively and constructively as a customer service representative
- Demonstrated strong work ethic by working longer shifts to ensure projects were completed on time
- Developed the ability to quickly assess situations and provide solutions as a member of the Husky Forensics Team
- Utilized active listening skills to effectively collaborated with others to effectively solve problems and ensure excellent customer satisfaction
- Identified scheduling issues and developed solutions to meet the needs of all employees
- Identified scheduling issues and developed solutions to meet the needs of all employees
- Skilled in effectively prioritizing schedules and juggling multiple projects and tasks as a result of working 20 hours per week while attending school full-time
- Demonstrated flexibility through multi-tasking in a fast paced work environment
- Utilized customer service and sales experience to help out other departments when needed
- Strengthened ability to be energetic and enthusiastic in order to promote innovative ideas and events as a result of involvement with campus recreation
- Motivated the track team consistently during practices and meets and adopted a strong leadership position in order to accomplish our goal of a successful season as captain
- Demonstrated initiative by creating templates and documents to create a more efficient and effective intake process for all staff and customers
- Used Excel to create and maintain the University Program Board club’s budget and constructed many PowerPoint presentations for event promotions
- Designed and maintained a website for Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Central MN for four years while volunteering in the program and continuously supporting their
- Demonstrated proficiency in HTML coding by creating an efficient and easy to use web design for customers, employees, and administers
- Paid strong attention to details and checked for accuracy in newspaper articles through work as a copy editor for the University Chronicle (campus publication)
- Acquired the talent to be detail-oriented and organized throughout work as a housekeeper while continuously performing routine tasks with preciseness and care
- Demonstrated strong attention to detail while managing inventory and reconciling daily receipts
Have people assured you that your international experience “looks great on a résumé”? They're right!
But, it’s up to you to effectively communicate how your experience has value and will benefit a potential employer's organization.
- Improved foreign language proficiency.
- Developed awareness of global economic and political issues and realities.
- Increased awareness of cultural differences.
- Enhanced cultural awareness and understanding of customs.
- Intensified understanding of others’ cultural views of the United States.
- Increased confidence in working with individuals and groups from other cultures.
- Gained independence in taking risks and dealing with unfamiliar situations.
- Demonstrated ability to problem-solve and handle difficult situations.
- Deepened understanding of lack of resources available in other countries.
- Improved personal skills in organizational management, handling budget, patience, adaptability, flexibility.
- Improved communication skills including listening and observation.
- Increased ability to maintain an open mind and be understanding of others.
- Expanded ability and willingness to travel.
- Improved skills and knowledge in my discipline such as ... .
Always include international experience on the résumé, even if you do not think it relates to your objective. It almost always does.
Study abroad example
Bachelor of Arts degree in French
St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, MN
International study program of French Language and Culture
University of Social Sciences, Toulouse, France
Internship, Marketing, Wilbur-Ellis Co., Brighton, Australia
- Assisted with creating strategies for marketing agricultural products.
- Increased awareness of global economic and business practice.
Related Experience Example
Intern, Marketing, Wilbur-Ellis Co., Brighton, Australia
- Assisted with creating strategies for marketing agricultural products.
- Increased awareness of global economic and business practice.
Volunteer, House of Resurrection, Port Elizabeth, South Africa
- Adapted easily to changing circumstances.
- Organized, implemented and supervised structured recreational activities for children.
Employed position example
Work Experience Example
Laborer, Washerei, Wyk auf Fohr, Germany
- Worked and communicated in German with supervisors and co-workers.
- Travel throughout Germany and visited historical sites.
- (Add bullet points based on skills identified above.)
List experiences in Skills/Accomplishments Section example
- Traveled through seven countries in Europe during summer of 20xx.
- Used speaking skills of three languages -- French, German, Italian.
- Read, write and speak Japanese proficiently.
- Studied abroad in Japan and increased ability to be open-minded and understanding of others.
- Gained an appreciation for diversity while living with a Japanese family.
- How does your international experience relate to your field?
- Know your objective and the career field in which you intend to work.
- "My studies in Japan provided me with a great insight into the cultural differences that influence consumers in different countries and will improve my ability to contribute to international marketing initiatives."
- If your career goals do not include a specific international dimension, you can promote the general transferable skills that apply to most career fields such as diversity awareness and flexibility.
- Plan how and where you will refer to your experience abroad. While it is important, it is only a small piece of your qualifications.
- Prepare specific examples. Did you:
- Complete a specific project, research, or case study related to your field?
- Learn to work with a more diverse group of people, or work with a specific culture related to a particular company that has connections in that country?
- Learn new activities, languages or skills?
- Develop skills through experiences or independent travel?
The first “look” at your résumé may not be with human eyes. An employer may use technology such as a search engine to screen applicants.
The scan searches for skills, qualities, or minimum qualifications that fit the position requirements.
Then, a human resources professional reviews the applications that fit the best and decides who to interview.
Improve your chances that your résumé will be seen
Realize that the job and internship search process is an active process.
- If your only strategy is submitting résumés to job boards and waiting for a response, you will limit your chances at an interview. Attend a career fair, professional conference, or network with industry professionals in addition to your online application.
Make sure your résumé addresses specific skills the employer is seeking.
- Use key words described in the job posting. This will improve the chances the search engine will return your résumé as a match.
Submit your résumé in a format that employers can read online.
- Follow the instructions on how to submit your résumé. Make sure to attach your documents in the format they request (.PDF, .doc, ASCII file, etc.).
How do I fill out an online application?
- Follow directions. Enter the correct data in the correct field and complete all fields, even those that aren’t required.
- Tailor your information to the position. Don’t copy and paste text from your generic résumé.
- Use key words and industry verbiage. Select key vocabulary from a company's brochure, website, advertising, etc. Do your research.
- If the company offers an optional assessment test online, take it.
- Include a strong objective. Match this to the specific position(s) available at this organization.
- Complete the application in one sitting. Some sites will not allow you to re-enter or change your application.
- Make careful note of any user names, passwords or PIN numbers if you have to register on sites.
- Be professional. Electronically submitted information is governed by the same laws of copyright, defamation, discrimination, etc. as other forms of written communication.
Additional tips on applying online:
- Keep a saved record of each document submitted in an application.
- Before submitting, print off the completed application and proofread (spell check and grammar check).
- Make any changes and save or print off a final copy as a reference and as proof of application.
- Follow up with a personal e-mail to the recruiter to let them know that your resume is now available online. A follow-up phone call is acceptable if the ad does not say, “No phone calls.”
When sending applications via email:
- Make sure your résumé can hold its own in a very simple format. The best way is to save it as a PDF because it cannot be edited by accident.
- Limit attachments to only what the recruiter has requested.
- Request a receipt of application acknowledgement either in your cover letter, or by setting up an automatic recipient received message through your email.
- Select a title for each attachment such as Résumé for J Smith, Cover Letter for J Smith, References for J Smith.
What if an online application requires you to cut and paste your resume to a text box?
- Cutting and pasting a Microsoft Word document to a text box does not produce a well formatted resume.
- You need to use a Plain Text document using the Windows Notepad program.
- Since Notepad does not use tab stops, all information on the resume is formatted off of the left margin.
- Use spacing to separate key sections of the resume.
- Use capitalization in place of bold face characters to highlight information that needs to stand out (titles, degrees, etc.)
- Replace bullet points and borders with symbols found on a standard keyboard (* , - , _ , = , etc.)
Use them for your résumé, LinkedIn profile, or other professional platforms.
SUMMARY VS. OBJECTIVE
Summary- a few short, well worded, well targeted sentences that summarize your skills, competencies, and experiences.
Example- Engineering Graduate with leadership training and experience with academic training at St. Cloud State University. Proven skills in project management, organization and research. Able to provide employers with administrative support and professional communication skills.
Objective- a short, targeted statement that clearly outlines your career direction while positioning you as someone who fits what the employer is exactly looking for.
Example- Dedicated and motivated engineering graduate seeking entry level assistant quality control manager position.
Objectives may still be effectively used in résumés, but in today’s job hunting world it would prove more useful to utilize a summary. Summaries give a more detailed insight, “snapshot” per say, to readers about whom they are reading about, compared to the one sentence an objective provides.
HOW TO CREATE A SUMMARY
Step 1: Figure Out Where You're Going
Since you need to be concise, it’s important to figure out what you want in your next position, so you know exactly what skills and experiences to highlight. If you are not absolutely clear about what you want, envision an ideal position that will value you for the main characteristics and experiences you want to be hired for.
- What skills do you most enjoy using?
- What accomplishments are you most proud of and can best illustrate your abilities?
- What issues, topics, or areas are you most passionate about?
Step 2: Analyze Your Target Industry
Once you know what you want to do, your next step is identifying where you want to be—think industry, city, and companies. Then, research your industry and key trends affecting it now. Read relevant industry news articles, research companies, and analyze job descriptions you’re interested in.
- What is most valued in your target industry?
- What experiences, skills, and characteristics matter in your target jobs?
- What would you look for if you were the hiring manager?
Step 3: Find Your Fit and Condense
With your knowledge of your target industry, it’s time to figure out how you fit in (or want to). Identify, describe, and refine your key selling points with your end goal in mind. Then, craft them into three to five sentences, shooting for statements that are vivid and that clearly illustrate what you bring to the table over anyone else.
- What are your most impactful selling points?
- What critical problems are you well positioned to solve?
SUMMARY EXAMPLES BASED ON SCSU SCHOOLS & COLLEGES
Registered Nurse Example (College of Health and Wellness Professions)
- Registered nurse with experience in providing compassionate care to multicultural populations and competent in observing patients for condition changes. Knowledge of developing, altering and implementing care plans in accordance to patients’ healthcare needs. Special interest in pediatric care.
Criminal Justice Example (School of Public Affairs)
- An ambitious criminal justice graduate, driven to serve others. Seeking work in capacity of a correctional officer. Experienced in communicating with inmates and explaining release conditions effectively. Expertise include emergency situations management, activity supervision, and record keeping.
Elementary Education Example (College of Education and Learning Design)
- Dedicated and student-focused elementary education professional who is committed to providing holistic, supportive, and engaging environment for all learners. Committed to grow and learn professionally, while ensuring every child’s learning styles and abilities are addressed.
Communications Studies Example (College of Liberal Arts)
- Honors graduate of St. Cloud State University Communications Studies program seeking a position in training and development. Offering hands-on experience from classroom experiences, corporate training, and communication research. Specializes in conflict resolution in the workplace.
Marketing Example (Herberger Business School)
- Accomplished sales and marketing management graduate from St. Cloud State University who excels in strategic planning, marketing, sales, and support of advanced technology solutions. Keen on presentation, contract negotiation, and communication skills and abilities.
Engineering Example (College of Science and Engineering)
- Dedicated mechanical engineer with field experience and technical expertise to provide high quality mechanical component and system support. Skilled at formulating and implementing equipment designs, testing and producing specifications, and researching product applications. Specializes in testing and diagnosing electromechanical system functions.
Art Example (School of the Arts)
- Creative and skilled Art graduate with in-depth knowledge of diverse mediums, techniques, and equipment. Highly detail-oriented and customer-focused, displays excellent communication skills and possesses willingness to improve techniques and processes through continued training and education.résumé