Build a Strong Resume

Objective/Career Objective

This is optional and used only if you are clearly “directed” in your job search. The best
objective should focus on at least two of the following:

  • Position title
  • Type of company
  • Location preferred
  • Skills
  • Career field
  • Goals

If you have multiple objectives, prepare multiple resume, or use a personal profile/career summary.

Personal Profile/Career Summary/Skills Summary

A skills summary section highlights those abilities, competencies, and personal attributes that make you a competitive candidate. It must grab the employer’s attention and convey confidence in your strongest relevant qualities and talents.

If you decide that an objective is not useful for you, consider using the personal profile. Use a 2-3 line statement or 4-6 bulleted item section.

Headings

Your resume will be divided into major sections identified by a heading. You can choose from the following or develop headings that are particularly suited for you:

  • Education
  • Internships
  • Experience
  • Activities
  • Honors
  • Employment
  • Travel/Study Abroad
  • Awards
  • Community Service
  • Interests
  • Skills
  • Publications
  • Languages

You can modify the heading; for example, in a resume with an objective for a teaching position, grades K-4, all pertinent teaching activities could be grouped under the heading “Teaching Experience.” Modified headings should be directly linked to your objective if they are to be used most effectively.

Entries, Leads, and Dates

Entries are descriptive statements within headings and may describe employment, events, and awards. Leads are the first lines of entries and should be developed to draw attention.

  • Always lead with your strength and with your most professional activities or accomplishments.
  • Begin statements with action verbs.
  • College students rarely have lengthy periods of employment; it is best to de-emphasize dates by including them after the lead, within, or at the end of the entry.
  • Spell out times; never use numbers and slashes.

Education

The following should be included:

  • Degree and major
  • College
  • City and state
  • Month/year graduating
  • GPA (overall and/or major) if over 3.0
  • Honors, awards, and scholarships
    • If numerous, set up separate heading

If you are under junior status and want to work in your hometown or if it would be a special interest to your audience, high school information may be included.

Seniors are encouraged to lead with their degree: B.A., Psychology, May 2017.

Underclass students generally lead with the name of their institution: Hollins University, Roanoke, VA, Class of 2020.

Study abroad experience may be listed under the Education header. You will add this information similarly to your education at Hollins.

Example: Hollins Abroad-Paris, Spring Semester 2017.

Experience

This section can include paid and unpaid experience, such as:

  • Full/part-time
  • Summer
  • Work-study employment
  • Internships
  • Volunteer service

For each, include the following specifics:

  • Title and/or department
  • Company
  • City
  • State
  • Dates employed
  • Duties and responsibilities

Campus Activities

The following may be grouped together or categorized under specific headings such as:

  • Leadership
  • Activities
  • Sports
  • Volunteer
  • Organizations

If your experience is limited, expand on your work within a campus organization, especially if you held office/chaired a committee.

Skills

Computer skills are valuable in all career fields, and language skills are especially helpful if your career field involves international business activities.

Language skills can be defined as “reading and/or speaking knowledge,” “extensive oral and/or writing skills,” or “highly proficient.”

Length

Most undergraduate students should make every effort to prepare a one-page resume. There are various formats available. Some fields require specific formats or longer resumes. Please consult the Career Center.

Fonts, Page Layout, and Format

  • Font Size: Font sizes should be 10, 11, or 12. Each font style will vary in size. Try a different font style if the font style is causing your resume to be longer than one page. You can also try using half fonts (i.e., 11.5).
  • Font Styles: Stick with fonts such as Arial, Calibri, Didot, Garamond, Georgia, Helvetica, Times New Roman, Lucida Sans, Tahoma, or Verdana.
  • Page Margins: 1/2″ to 1″ on all sides.
  • Spacing: Single spacing is usually best. You should add an extra space between each section if possible.