Your resume is a one or two page personal advertisement that briefly describes your unique experiences, skills, and accomplishments. It is often your first impression with an employer so it is essential that your resume be tailored to each position, well organized, easy to scan, and error free.

Printable PDF of the Resume Guidebook

Getting Started Resume Format
Resume Styles Sections & Content
Action Verbs Submitting a Resume
Resume Worksheet Resume Samples: OSU, Vault
References  

Where Do I Begin?

Start by reflecting on your past experiences. What have you accomplished in your work, education and personal life that might be important for employers to know about you? This could include academic success, full-time or part-time jobs, internships, volunteer experience, campus activities, and skills such as computer or language proficiencies. To help you get started, use the resume worksheet.

What Should It Look Like?

The majority of resumes for applications are still being created using Microsoft Word with a fairly standard format. However, digital resumes and online portfolios are becoming more common. Check out the page on personal branding for more information, especially if you are in a creative or communication field.

Resumes should generally be one page, however, if you have a number of years of work and related experience you may need two pages. A two page resume is more acceptable in fields such as education and human services. In the fields of business, IT, and engineering, and when applying to larger companies, a one page resume is strongly recommended.  

When you are building your first resume, try to avoid using a template. Although templates may make the process easier to start, they are difficult to tailor and change later on which will only cause you frustration. Create your resume format yourself in Microsoft Word using tabs, Bold, Italics, CAPITALIZATION and other features to set your resume apart. Here are some general guidelines:

  • Margins between .5 and 1 inch and equal on all sides
  • Font size between 10 and 12 (with the exception of your name – 14 to 16)
  • Simple font style such as Times New Roman or Ariel
  • Consistent format that’s easy to scan, do not clutter the page or leave too much white space
  • No personal pronouns – NO I, me, my, etc., meant to be a brief outline only

How Should It Be Organized?

There are three common styles of resumes: chronological, functional and a combination of the two.

  • Chronological – This is the most common format for a resume and what employers typically prefer because it is easy to scan where and when you have worked at what jobs. This format is best for a person with a stable work history or a student applying for internships or entry level positions who has past work and volunteer/extracurricular experience. A chronological resume lists your work and other experiences in REVERSE chronological order (most recent backwards) within each section.
  • Functional – This format works well for a person who does not have much experience, who is returning to work after an absence, or who is going through a career transition. A functional resume focuses on your skills rather than your chronological work history.
  • Combination – This format highlights your skills at the top of the resume relate most to the job(s) you are applying for, then gives a chronological list of your work history.

If you are not sure what format to use, contact a counselor in the Career Development Center. This guidebook is going to focus on Chronological resumes as they are the most common.

What Sections Should I Include?

The most common categories on a resume include your contact information, objective, education, work experience, volunteer experience/activities, and skills. However, your resume is going to be unique to your experiences and the positions that you are applying for. Additional headers that you could add to your resume include: Related Courses, Internship, Practicum, Related Experience, Teaching Experience, Research, Related Projects, Certifications, Military Service, Honors and Awards, Leadership Experience, Professional Development, Memberships, Publications, etc. Meet with a counselor to discuss what sections will make the most sense for you to include based on your unique experiences and what you are applying for.

Contact Information

At the top of your resume you should include your full name, current address, phone number and email address. You may also include your LinkedIn profile URL if you have one (which you should!). There are many different ways to present your contact information, it is up to you how you would like to format it. Example:

Benny Cascades
2600 NW College Way, Bend, OR, 97701
benny.cascades@onid.oregonstate.edu, 541-322-3157

Objective

An objective on a resume is optional. However, if you do include one, it NEEDS to be specific to the position and the company that you are applying to. The objective focuses on the skills that you would bring to the position and makes it easy for the employer to see that you have tailored your application to them.

Generic Example:           “Seeking a challenging and rewarding position where I can utilize and enhance my skills in the field of environmental science”

Tailored Example:          “To contribute strong analytical skills, the ability to think outside the box, and assets in teamwork and communication to the Environmental Analyst position with the State of Oregon”

Education

For most current students, as well as recent graduates, education is the most relevant experience to potential employers.  If you are a traditional-aged college student, or are returning to school to change careers or after an absence from work, then education should definitely be at the top. If you are going back to school to enhance your current career in a field where you already have robust experience, then you may want to reconsider where you place the education section.

In the education section you should include the name and location of the institutions where you are currently enrolled and where you have received degrees from in the past. If you are a transfer student you DO NOT need to include all of the institutions that you attended unless you received a degree from there.  Generally, it is not advisable to include high school details on your resume unless you are a first-year or sophomore student.

You will also include the type of degree that you are receiving (i.e. BA, BS, MA, MS, MFA) and your intended major(s) and minor(s). In addition, you may include academic honors and awards, study abroad information, and your GPA if applicable. If you have achieved a GPA of 3.0 or higher, DO include it on your resume. Example:

Oregon State University – Cascades, Bend, OR, Graduation: June 2015
Bachelor of Science in Exercise and Sport Science, GPA: 3.2/4.0

Study Abroad: Nutrition, Exercise & Sport Science, University of Sydney, Australia, Fall 2013

Work Experience

In this section you will include any paid employment experience that you have had. Remember to order your experience in reverse chronological order (most recent backwards). For each experience that you have you will want to include:

Your Job Title, Name of Company/Organization, City, State, Dates

However, if the companies that you have worked for are more impressive than your job title, you will want to reorder the information to show the company name first:

Name of Company/Organization, Job Title, City, State, Dates

Underneath each of your experiences you will highlight accomplishments as well as relevant or transferable skills that you used or gained on the job. Reflect on your past full-time, part-time and/or seasonal work experience to identify the skills you want to include. Transferable skills are skills that you have gained in settings that may not be related to your career of interest, but the skills themselves will help you to be successful in your new position. The transferable skills listed below were identified by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (2015) as the top 10 skills that employers are seeking in recent college graduates:

  1. Teamwork 
  2. Decision Making/Problem Solving
  3. Communication – verbal
  4. Planning/Organizing/Prioritizing
  5. Obtain/ Process Information
  6. Analyze Quantitative Data
  7. Technical Knowledge
  8. Proficiency with Computer Software
  9. Create/Edit Written Reports
  10. Ability to Sell and Influence

Which of these skills have you successfully executed in your past work experiences?

In developing your skill and accomplishment statements, start each statement with an action verb. A categorized lists of action verbs can be found below. If you are currently working in the position, your action verbs should be in present tense. If you are no longer working there, action verbs should be in past tense. For example:

  • Present: Develop, Create, Organize, Manage
  • Past: Developed, Created, Organized, Managed

Constructing these statements to highlight your related skills can be the most complicated part of putting a resume together. Here are some steps to help you process:

  1. What tasks did you have at your job?
  2. What skills did you need to complete these tasks that relate to what you want to do in the future?
  3. Find a compelling action verb to express the related skill that you were using
  4. Clarify the with/for who, what, and why of each work task
  5. Highlight outcomes or results to show impact of your work on the company
  6. Quantify if possible as well. How much? How many?

For example:

Camp Counselor, Sunriver Summer Camp, Sunriver, OR, May - August 2013

  • Weak statement: Watched kids during a day camp
  • Strong statement: Supervised up to 30 kids ages 10 to 12 during fun and education activities for eight hours a day

Volunteer Experience/Activities

This section will look very similar to your work experience. You want to include the same standard information:

Your Role, Name of Club/Organization, City, State, Dates

You can also choose to include skill and accomplishment statements underneath your volunteer experience and activities if they are applicable to the jobs that you are interested in.

Skills

You can highlight any related skills on your resume. The most common are computer skills and language proficiency. For language proficiency, you can label your language skills as being basic, intermediate, advanced or fluent. However, if you would not be comfortable answering basic questions in a foreign language on the job, do not include it on your resume.

Computer: Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Adobe InDesign, SPSS
Language: Intermediate Spanish (oral and written)

Action Verbs

Use the action verbs below to help articulate your skills, responsibilities and accomplishments in your resume and in an interview.

Communication Management Detail Creativity
addressed
arbitrated
arranged
authored
corresponded
developed
directed
drafted
edited
enlisted
formulated
influenced
interpreted
lectured
mediated
moderated
motivated
negotiated
persuaded
promoted
publicized
recruited
spoke
translated
wrote
administered
analyzed
assigned
attained
chaired
contracted
consolidated
coordinated
delegated
developed
directed
evaluated
executed
improved
increased
organized
planned
prioritized
produced
recommended
reviewed
scheduled
strengthened 
supervised
approved
arranged
catalogued
classified
collected
compiled
dispatched
executed
generated
implemented
inspected
monitored
operated
organized
prepared
processed
purchased
recorded
retrieved
screened
specified
systematized
tabulated 
validated
acted
created
designed
developed
directed
established
fashioned
founded
illustrated
instituted
integrated
introduced
invented
originated
performed
planned
revitalized 
shaped
Helping Financial Research Technical
assessed
clarified
coached
counseled
demonstrated
diagnosed
educated
expedited
facilitated
familiarized
guided
referred
rehabilitated
represented
administered
allocated
analyzed
appraised
audited
balanced
budgeted
calculated
computed
developed
forecast
managed
marketed
planned
projected
researched

clarified
collected
critiqued
diagnosed
evaluated
examined
extracted
identified
inspected
interpreted
interviewed
investigated
organized
review
summarized
surveyed 
systematized

assembled
built
calculated
computed
designed
devised
engineered
fabricated
maintained
operated
overhauled
programmed
remodeled
repaired
solved
trained
upgraded
Teaching      
adapted
advised
clarified
coached
communicated
coordinated
developed
enabled
encouraged
evaluated
explained
facilitated
guided
informed
initiated
instructed
set goals 
stimulated
     

How Should I Submit My Resume?

Electronic Applications

When submitting you application onto an online system or uploading it electronically, you want to upload it as a Microsoft Word document (.doc or .docx). The applicant tracking systems that you upload your application into are computer programs that will scan your documents for keywords that relate to the job that you are applying for. These systems can only scan Word documents, not PDF files. To see how your resume stands up to the job that you are applying for, use Resunate.

Email

If you are emailing your application to an employer, include your cover letter in the body of the email and attach your resume to the email as a PDF file. This way your resume will look the same no matter who opens it and on what device. You can also attach your cover letter as a PDF so that it is easy for the employer to print. Label your attachments as “Last Name Resume, Title of Position” and “Last Name Cover Letter, Title of Position” so that your application is easy for the employer to find later on.

Hard Copy

If you are planning to print out your resume to drop off copies in person at companies or during career fairs and interviews, it is best to print your resume on resume paper. You can purchase resume paper at OfficeMax, Staples, or any other office supply store.