Creating Your Resume: Dos and Don’ts


Writing your first resume can be a daunting task. We compiled 5 pieces of advice to follow while preparing for this next step.

Your resume (sometimes used interchangeably with the curriculum vitae, or CV, which is longer and used typically for academia) is your first chance to impress recruiters and convince them that you are the ideal candidate for the position you are applying for.

While there is no 'one best way' to create a resume, there is a list of dos and don’ts that could make your resume stand out and catch recruiters' attention.

1. Tailor your resume to the position you’re applying for.

While your resume must give an overview of your competencies, experience and education, it is also important to adjust it to the requirements of the specific position(s) you are applying for. For example, if you are applying for a research internship, you might want to emphasize your writing skills over your design skills. But no matter the skills or experience you want to highlight, they should reflect your actual capabilities and activities you have done, not what you think you can do.

2. Make your resume concise, well organized and easy to read.

Your resume should be no longer than 1 or 2 pages. Put your personal details at the top of your resume, do not include your religion, marital status, gender, picture or any other irrelevant details. Organize the rest of your resume into distinct and logical sections; the most common ones being 'education', 'experience', and 'skills & qualifications'. If you are a student with no work experience, you can include any awards you may have received or extracurricular and volunteering activities that reflect concrete achievements and/or skills.

3. Format your resume.

It is as important as the content you include. No matter what type of format or style you choose (underlining, bold, capitalization, etc.), be consistent. For example, if you put one section's title in bold, make sure all titles are in bold. The spacing should also be consistent and the text aligned. Avoid using colors or any special effects. There is also no harm in using existing resume templates available on specialized websites such as CV Maker. Finally, do not submit your resume in Microsoft Word format; make sure it is a PDF document that is not editable.

4. Use the appropriate writing style.

Use action verbs to describe your achievements and whenever possible, quantify them and write them in the third person without using pronouns. For example, if you want to say that as member of a student group at university, you helped collect funds for a charity, it is better to say, "supported efforts to raise $1,000 for charity " instead of "I helped collect funds for charity". Take advantage of the multitude of online resources on resume writing, especially on university websites. For example, check out the ‘STAR’ method and apply it in your resume.

5. Proofread your resume to avoid any grammatical errors.

Be prepared to go through a number of drafts before finalizing your resume. With each version, do not be afraid to ask for feedback from your professors, older students, or the career advising office at your university. Even the top CEOs ask their peers for input on their work; it is the best way to learn.


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