Resume Best Practices
How to Write a Resume: The Basics
Whether you’re searching for an internship or an entry-level position, the first step to finding a great job is having a strong resume. How can you ensure that your resume is both effective and professional? By highlighting relevant skills and experience while also showing that you’re a well-rounded individual who can bring something unique to the role.
We recently sat down with an expert on the recruiting team at a major accounting firm to get their advice on resume best practices.
Here are three quick tips to help you create the perfect resume.
1. Map it out. It should always be just a single page.
Before you start writing your resume, map out key points such as your work experience, skills and academic background. This is a great exercise for two reasons: 1) It will help you take stock of the information that’s most relevant to the roles you’re applying for and 2) It will give you a sense of how to structure your resume without going over a single page (the commonsense limit for any resume).
The best way to map out your resume is by creating separate sections for education, skills and experience and then noting down 3-5 bullet points under each one. Once you have your bullet points, take a few minutes to assess which ones are most impactful and be sure to include these in the final version.
2. Create a structure for your resume and fill in the categories.
Next, it’s time to create a structure for your resume and to flesh out each section. For most college students and recent grads, a chronological resume is the best way to go since this is the most common type of resume used by professionals.
Here’s what it looks like:
This should be the first section of your resume and it should feature your name, address, email and phone number, as well as links to a personal website or an online portfolio if you have them.
This section should have the name and location of your college or university, as well as your major and the anticipated date of your graduation. You may also choose to include your GPA (if it’s above 3.0) and to highlight relevant classes or extracurricular activities.
The third section of your resume should be dedicated to your previous work experience including part-time jobs, internships and volunteer work. Although you should include work experience that relates to the role you’re applying for, don’t feel compelled to write down every single job you’ve had in the past. Instead, focus on the ones where you developed your core set of skills and highlight your experience by adding 3-5 bullet points detailing your responsibilities in each position.
This order isn’t the only way to do it. Here’s another example of a great resume with a slightly different ordering of sections. can also see another example of a great resume with a slightly different order.
Pro Tip: Whenever possible, use action verbs and numbers to illustrate the impact you had in each role. For example, if you helped a company grow its social media presence during a marketing internship, be sure to mention this and to note the growth rate as a percentage.
Skills and Interests
Since employers are interested in hiring well-rounded candidates, one of the other key areas they look for is a section on skills and interests. This should include a range of skills such as proficiency with computer programs like Microsoft Word and Excel and language skills (if relevant to the position you’re applying for). When outlining your interests, be sure to focus on those that relate to your chosen career path such as an interest in travel if you’re applying for a role where travel is required.
3. Highlight your accomplishments.
If you don’t have a lot of professional experience, that’s okay too. You can still demonstrate the value you’ll bring to a position by highlighting your academic and personal accomplishments. A few key areas to focus on are class projects you’ve worked on, volunteer work you’ve done and any awards you’ve won (such as making the Dean’s List or receiving a scholarship). Pepper these accomplishments throughout your resume and use them to fill any gaps in your experience or education.
By following these tips and crafting a resume designed to show off your personal and professional accomplishments, you’ll be sure to impress potential employers and to get one step closer to landing your dream job.