Resumé Dos and Don'ts

Employers evaluate resumés quickly. Tailor your resumé to meet their needs. Here are some suggestions to help you focus your edits. They address the issues of form, function, feedback, and electronic resumés.

FORM deals with appearance

  • Templates: Avoid resumé wizards and resumé software templates. They are difficult to edit and do not allow you to present information in the most effective format.
  • Length: For college studentsand recent college graduates, use a one-page format.
  • Font: Choose a basic, easy-to-read font such as Times New Roman, Arial or Helvetica in a 10- to 14-point size. Use black ink.
  • Paper: Use 8-1/2" by 11"resumé-quality paper in a light color such as white or off-white. Buy envelopes and cover letter paper to match your resumé.
  • Spacing: Margins of 0.7 to 1 inch and double spacing between headings improves readability.
  • Layout: Use bullets, bold, capitalization, and underlining sparingly to call attention to the most important information. Leave some white space to create an uncluttered look.
  • Format: Present information in reverse chronological order (newest experiece first). Common headings include:
    • Education
    • Experience
    • Skills
    • Activities
    • Community Service
  • Professionalism: Eliminate all typos and misspellings by asking others to proofread your resumé. 

FUNCTION conveys an impression of you that meets the reader's needs

  • Image: Decide what image you want your resumé to communicate. Does it show that you are a leader, a team player, an artist, an innovator, a salesperson, or something else?
  • Content: Select 3 core qualities that define you and are of importance to the position for which you are applying. Make sure that your resumé focuses on skills and accomplishments that reflect these core qualities.
  • Style: Start off sentences with action verbs to convey enthusiasm and achievement. 
  • Avoid: Do not list your own website if it includes personal information. Never reveal confidential personal data such as social security number, driver's license, or credit card numbers on a resumé. 

FEEDBACK allows others to offer ideas for strengthening your resumé

  • Sources: Consult Career Services, professors, family, friends, and professionals in your field.
  • Review: When you receive feedback, decide if the changes suggested are useful.  

ELECTRONIC resumés and technology

  • Email text resumés: If you copy the text of your resumé into the body of an email, use left-hand justified, plain text format. Avoid using tabs, bullets, underlining, bold, and graphics.
  • Email attachment resumés: If you email your résumé as an attachment, us your name in the document title. Some employers will not accept attachments because of the danger of viruses.
  • Online resumés: Follow the directions on the website where you are submitting the resumé. Directions for online submissions vary widely.
  • Scanned resumés: Use key word phrases relevant to the position, employer, and career field. Use capitals, bullets and bold for emphasis. Avoid underlining, graphics and italics.