What is a resume?

A resume is a formal document that briefly describes your professional and academic experiences, educational background, and qualifications for the purpose of obtaining internships or jobs. It is a concise, organized, truthful, and specific record that succinctly lists your experiences. It is a living document, meaning that it will change and grow as you move through your career and you should update it periodically.

How will I use my resume?

Your resume is a required document for nearly all internship and job applications. In addition to customizing or targeting your resume for each application, you may choose to post your resume to Handshake and other career platforms, like LinkedIn, and/or share it with someone as part of a professional introduction. Posting your resume to a platform like Handshake makes you more visible to potential employers and recruiters as they may browse profiles when seeking talent or in trying to learn more about you during an application process. Additionally, you will use the content from your resume to complete your profile on Handshake. Students with completed Handshake profiles are five times more likely to be contacted by a recruiter! 

 What’s the difference between a resume and a CV?

In the United States, a resume and a CV are two different kinds of professional documents. A resume highlights professional and academic experiences that are relevant to specific employers. For students, it is typically only one page. A curriculum vitae (CV) is an ongoing list of all academic and professional achievements. It can be as long as necessary to comprehensively cover your experiences. In the U.S., most employers request a resume.

Resume Basics

  • On Writing: Writing a compelling resume takes time and requires multiple drafts (4-6 usually!). There are writing and formatting norms in resumes that are different from nearly all other kinds of writing, so do not become discouraged if this is difficult at first. The more you practice, the easier it will be.
  • Relevant information: Your resume will contain a range of experiences that have been significant in time and meaning to you, including internships, jobs, extracurricular activities, athletics, and even projects, meaning that your resume will include paid and unpaid experiences. As a college student, potential employers understand that you may not have vast job experience in your interested/intended field.
  • Length: As an undergraduate student, your resume should be no more than one page 
  • Voice: Write your resume in the removed first person voice, so no referring to yourself as ‘I’ or even ‘They.’
  • Order: Place your experiences in reverse chronological order, meaning that the most recent goes at the top. 
  • Document Needs: Save your resume as a .PDF with a formal file name, such as AlishaRamirez_Resume_July2020.pdf

Components of a Resume

Targeting Your Resume 

To ‘target’ your resume means customizing your document to match specific criteria you notice in an internship or job description and to align with what you’ve learned about an employer or industry by doing research. While you must always be honest in your application materials, you want to highlight different aspects of your qualifications based on the skills or experiences desired by the employer or industry.

Tips for Targeting Your Resume

  • Include relevant coursework: If you have completed courses that are relevant to your opportunity, include the names of classes in your education section
  • Create a Relevant Experience section: This section should fall right under your Education section and contain any experience that is relevant to the position. You can also create sections that reflect relevant competencies, such as Communications Experience, Teaching Experience, Research Experience, etc
  • Determining if an experience is “relevant” (in order of importance):
    • It was in the industry of the position you’re applying for
    • You learned content/knowledge that relates to the work you would be doing
    • You developed skills in another industry that are “transferrable,” in other words, you could apply those skills in the position you’re applying for
    • It demonstrates hard work and dedication
  • Prioritize your bullets: To capture the employer’s attention, your most important and relevant contributions and responsibilities should be listed first under each experience
  • Use aligned language: Integrate the key words of a job description or industry into your descriptions and skills areas to show your alignment with the desired qualifications. This means you may describe your experiences differently from one resume to the next. Some employers even use keyword scanner software for the initial round of application reviews so integrating appropriate keywords is critical to moving on to the next phase.