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Résumé Writing

What exactly is a résumé?

Your résumé is a written snapshot of you—a word picture of the unique combination of skills and qualities you offer an employer. Employers screen résumés in 10 seconds or less, so you must quickly capture the reader’s interest. There is an art to résumé writing. When learned, it can open doors to unlimited career opportunities. Since your résumé is your representative, make certain it is a good one by learning and applying the principles of first-class résumé writing.

What is its purpose?

To capture an employer’s interest in speaking with you personally; it is as simple as that. Your résumé’s job is to land you an interview! However, it must also allow an employer to quickly and accurately perceive who you are, what you do best, what you want to do in the future, and how you might benefit the organization.

Your resume is a marketing tool that helps your story, communicate your value, and gain a competitive edge in your job search. Here a 10 tips for building a great resume:

  1. Put yourself in the shoes of your reader. Looking at hiring from an employer’s perspective is an essential first step in preparing your resume and launching your job search. Consider the knowledge/skills/experience he or she will be looking for, and then begin with a plan to clearly demonstrate these throughout your resume. What skill-based evidence do I have to support my candidacy for this position? What values do I bring to the organization to support its mission and culture?
  2. Write a dynamic PROFILE or SKILLS SUMMARY section to focus the reader’s attention on your skills and areas of interest. It should provide a quick snapshot of who you are and the best you have to offer as it relates to your target position. Organize and format your material to create a cohesive introduction and capture immediate attention.
  3. Describe your experience, strengths, and selling points in brief bulleted sentences or phrases. Begin each description with a strong action verb and use keywords relating to the position, especially those you find in the job announcement. Use $s, %s, and #s to quantify your successes. TAILOR YOUR RESUME TO EACH JOB DESCRIPTION.
  4. Present your information in an organized format to maximize readability with the most relevant information first. Typically, this means selecting an easy-to-read font (10-12 point), setting margins of no less than three quarters of an inch, and organizing sections with descriptive headings on a single page with as much white space as possible.
  5. Begin the EDUCATION section with your highest degree and the date you will receive it. Remove High school information.
  6. Include experience – paid or unpaid – related to the position you are applying for in an EXPERIENCE section. (This section may also be titled Professional Experience or Relevant Experience.) List your job title, organization worked for, location, and dates of employment followed by two to four bulleted sentences or phrases describing your accomplishments and the significant impact you made on the organization. Begin each bullet point with an action verb.
  7. Describe extracurricular, community service, and volunteer experience in a section titled LEADERSHIP or LEADERSHIP & SERVICE or COMMUNITY NINVOLVEMENT. Add a descriptive bullet to elaborate on leadership experiences or commitments where you contributed significantly to the success of the organization. Include dates if relevant.
  8. Highlight technical, language, lab, research, and/or computer skills in a defined SKILLS section. Include levels of proficiency where relevant.
  9. Proofread your resume, cover letter, and other supporting documents for typos and grammatical errors. Then ask someone else to proof them again. Check for accuracy in your contact information. Read your resume backwards to keep your brain from missing typos or missing letters.
  10. Ask for feedback, recommendations, and referrals from others who can help you make the connections you need in your job search.

Need assistance?

Schedule an appointment with Cynthia Washington.