Resume Basics

Resume writing is an art, not a science.

Use the basics below as well as your personal brand to create a successful resume that lands you the interview!

Your resume should be:

  • Targeted to your goals.
  • Supportive of your “brand.”
  • A reflection of your personality.
  • Short & stimulating.
  • Competency driven.

Your resume shouldn’t be:

  • A chronology of your career.
  • All inclusive.
  • A list of your job responsibilities.
  • Highly detailed.
  • The same as a “C.V.”

Required Elements

Contact Information

  • Name: should be large and stand out; readable from a distance.
  • Mailing and/or email address (use a professional email address).
  • Phone number, LinkedIn, website URL (if applicable).


  • Current degree (if necessary, spell it out).
  • Relevant continuing education.
  • List towards the top for current students & recent alumni.

Professional Experience

  • Keep it related to your target.
  • Consider also listing volunteer and/or unpaid relevant experience here.

Additional Information

  • Relevant certifications, languages, technical skills, related honors, projects.

Seek to understand who you are and what you offer, compared to what the employer wants and needs.

Personalized Elements

Remember your personal brand.

  • What special skills and/or experience do you have? Pull out specific details from your experience to illustrate your answers.
  • Showcase transferable skills.
  • Do not simply list past job responsibilities — make sure you tell why they are important. Show tangible results.
  • Use action words.

Keep in mind your target audience.

  • Who are they and what do they do? Who are their customers and what problems do they specialize in?
  • Talk to people in the industry; find out what they are looking for. Look at job announcements and make a list of the knowledge, skills, and experience employers seek in candidates.

The “Look”

Give a great first impression!

  • Should be one page (two pages maximum).
  • Spaced neatly (good white space — at least 0.25" margins).
  • No errors!
  • PDF (if soft copy).
  • Correct tenses are used & written in implied first person.
  • Font size & style: legible! Use 10–12pt font; headers should be bigger and stand out from descriptive text.
  • Spell out non-obvious acronyms.
  • Style should be consistent & coordinated throughout.

Keep it simple.

  • Remember that people will be reading and reviewing your resume quickly; ensure the layout is simple and clear and information is cleanly presented.
  • Show your personality through the design, but avoid unnecessary flourishes which may detract from important information about you.

What about color?

  • Color is OK, but use it sparingly and discretely.
  • Whatever you decide, ensure your resume looks good on screen and in print (color and black & white).

Don’t list your experience: describe it!

  • Use action words to paint a picture of your experiences.
  • Remember, don’t just list responsibilities (or what you did), but also include how you made an impact.
  • For everything on your resume, ask yourself, “Is it obvious why this is important to the reader?”

Formula for describing your experience:

  • Action Verb + Situation / Task = Results (& Impact)!

A resume is your commercial!

Make it easy for the reader to understand your strengths & what is unique about you.

  • Coherently organize information.
  • Be complete, but also concise.
  • Stay true to your brand!

Need help?

Contact for a resume review and/or career counseling session.

Make an Impact: Use action words!

Craft your resume to be action-oriented, attention-grabbing, and dynamic. Reference, but don’t overuse, the list of action words below.

Addressed Arranged Articulated Authored Clarified Collaborated Communicated Composed Condensed Conferred Consulted Contacted Conveyed Convinced Corresponded Debated Defined Described Developed Directed Discussed Drafted Edited Elicited Enlisted Explained Expressed Formulated Furnished Incorporated Influenced Interacted Interpreted Interviewed Involved Joined Lectured Listened Marketed Mediated Moderated Negotiated Observed Participated Persuaded Presented Promoted Publicized Recruited Referred Reported Resolved Responded Solicited Specified Spoke Suggested Synthesized Translated Wrote

Advised Aided Analyzed Answered Assisted Clarified Coached Contributed Consulted Demonstrated Diagnosed Educated Encouraged Evaluated Explained Facilitated Guided Helped Individualized Informed Instilled Instructed Persuaded Planned Recommended Resolved Simplified Supported Taught Trained Volunteered

Financial / Data Skills
Administered Adjusted Allocated Analyzed Appraised Assessed Audited Balanced Budgeted Calculated Computed Conserved Estimated Fore-casted Managed Marketed Measured Netted Planned Programed Projected Qualified Quantified Reconciled Reduced Researched Retrieved

Helping / Teamwork
Adapted Advocated Aided Answered Arranged Assessed Assisted Clarified Coached Collaborated Contributed Cooperated Counseled Demonstrated Diagnosed Educated Encouraged Ensured Expedited Facilitated Familiarized Furthered Guided Helped Insured Intervened Motivated Provided Referred Rehabilitated Presented Resolved Simplified Supplied Supported Volunteered

Management / Leadership
Administered Aligned Analyzed Appointed Approved Assigned Assisted Attained Authorized Chaired Considered Consolidated Controlled Coordinated Decided Delegated Developed Directed Emphasized Enforced Enhanced Established Executed Generated Handled Headed Hired Hosted Improved Incorporated Increased Initiated Inspected Instituted Led Managed Merged Mentored Motivated Organized Originated Overhauled Oversaw Planned Prioritized Produced Recommended Reorganized Replaced Restored Reviewed Scheduled Streamlined Strengthened Supervised Terminated

Organization / Detail Skills
Approved Arranged Cataloged Categorized Charted Classified Coded Collected Compiled Corresponded Distributed Executed Filed Generated Implemented Incorporated Inspected Logged Maintained Monitored Obtained Operated Ordered Organized Prepared Processed Provided Purchased Recorded Registered Reserved Responded Reviewed Routed Scheduled Screened Submitted Supplied Standardized Systematized Validated Verified

Problem Solving / Creativity
Acted Adapted Aligned Began Combined Composted Conceptualized Condensed Created Customized Designed Developed Diagnosed Directed Displayed Entertained Established Formulated Founded Illustrated Initiated Instituted Integrated Introduced Inverted Modeled Modified Originated Performed Planned Recommended Revised Revitalized Shaped Solved

Analyzed Clarified Collected Compared Conducted Criticized Detected Determined Diagnosed Evaluated Examined Experimented Explored Extracted Formulated Gathered Identified Inspected Interpreted Interviewed Invented Investigated Located Measured Organized Researched Searched Solved Summarized Surveyed Systematized Tested

Teaching & Helping
Adapted Advised Aided Answered Assisted Clarified Coached Communicated Conducted Contributed Coordinated Critiqued Demonstrated Developed Educated Enabled Encouraged Evaluated Explained Facilitated Focused Guided Helped Individualized Informed Instilled Instructed Motivated Persuaded Resolved Simplified Simulated Stimulated Supported Taught Tested Trained Tutored Volunteered

Adapted Applied Assembled Built Calculated Computed Conducted Configured Conserved Constructed Converted Debugged Designed Determined Developed Diagnosed Engineered Fabricated Fortified Implemented Installed Maintained Migrated Operated Overhauled Participated Performed Printed Programmed Provided Rectified Regulated Remodeled Repaired Replaced Restored Solved Specialized Standardized Studied Upgraded Utilized

Don’t forget to include demonstrative nouns!

Demonstrative nouns show skills, certifications, degrees, and experiences that are relevant to the job.
Tip: use key words from the job description in your resume.

Last updated:

December 2, 2022