The purpose of a resume is to motivate an employer to contact you to schedule an interview. To make that happen, your resume must reflect how your education and experiences fit, and exceed, the requirements for the position. Another way to think of the resume is as a marketing tool that communicates on paper the value you will bring to the employer. You should also have a references page, but this should be a separate document from your resume.
The “3 C’s of Resumes”
Clear: Make sure your resume addresses the qualifications required for the position you seek. It is very important that you tailor your resume for each position you pursue.
Concise: Standard length is typically one page for recent graduates and two pages for professionals with significant professional experience. If you have less than 5 years of professional experience, you should use an early professional resume format. If you have more than 5 years of professional experience, you should use a mid-career resume format.
Clean: Make sure your resume is neat and easy to read. Basic formatting suggestions:
- Stick to traditional fonts such as Times New Roman, Arial, Tahoma, Verdana, Garamond, or Georgia. Some take up more space on the page than others so use them according to your spacing needs.
- Use a 10, 11 or 12pt font. Your name in your header should be between 14 and 16pt font.
- Highlight achievements and skill sets with bulleted statements beginning with action verbs. Use past tense verbs for past experiences and present tense verbs for current experiences.
- Set headings, position titles, locations, etc. apart by consistently using bolding/italics throughout your resume. Avoid abbreviations.
- Margins should be between 1/2 to 1 inch all around.
- You should have a header on page one with your name, city, state, phone, email, and LinkedIN URL (customized to be your name). You should have a footer on page 2 with your name and the page number.
There is not a standard definition of “curriculum vitae,” “CV,” or “vita,” but generally the focus is more on academic preparation, research, and publications than in a résumé. Another significant difference is that a vita is not limited by length. A master’s level vita may be three or four pages, while those with doctorates may have vitas of ten or more pages in length. Content determines the length. Vitas have no set format. It is best to consult with professionals in your field about what to include and appropriate layout. Be complete but concise. The order of sections is determined by your strengths. Experienced candidates may begin with experience; inexperienced candidates may begin with educational background. In addition to being used in the fields of education and often health care, many international employers will prefer a vita.
CVs don't need to include every section or category listed below, but it is important to highlight the information most relevant to the position you are seeking. Be strategic about the arrangement of your sections within your CV. List more relevant sections towards the beginning of your CV and less critical sections towards the end. HigherEdJobs shows a couple of different samples of CVs to help you think about how to structure your CV.
- Contact Information - name, address (home and/or office), phone number and e-mail address
- Professional Development - additional trainings, certifications, and workshops you've attended or completed
- Research/Teaching Interests - relevant experiences to the position you are seeking
- Specialized Skills - technical skills related to your discipline
- Service - a listing of your involvement on university, department or community committees
- Presentations - poster presentations, workshops, seminars, panels and conferences
- Professional Accomplishments - honors, awards, fellowships and grants
- Publications - cite them in the format appropriate to your discipline
- Experience - can be organized into multiple sections, including (but not limited to): Teaching Experience, Research Experience, Relevant Experience, Volunteer Experience, Clinical Experience, Laboratory Experience, etc.
- Education - all college degrees received and currently pursuing, institutions, locations, dates completed or expected. You can also include thesis and/or dissertation titles and advisor names for graduate degrees.
- Professional Memberships - relevant memberships to your field