Resume Best Practices

A resume is a brief document summarizing your education, professional experience, and relevant qualifications and skills. The purpose of a resume is to serve as an advertisement, while the goal of a resume is to secure an interview.

What should the format of a resume be?

  • Use section headings, boldface, and capitalization to break-up text on your resume and effectively organize.
  • Format your resume in reverse chronological order within section headings.
  • Use incomplete, action-oriented sentences. Begin with a strong, descriptive verb followed by a goal, skill, or result. Use past tense verbs for worked already completed. This type of language shows that you have done the work already and reassures employers that you are qualified.

What should you include on a resume?

  • Include a contact information section (full name, email address, permanent address, local address, and phone number).
    • Whatever design you use in delivering your contact information section, remain consistent in this design when presenting contact information on other components of your application (such as cover letters).
  • Include an objective or summary section.
    • Objectives are most useful for recent graduates and new professionals. Include the position you are seeking, industry you are targeting, and your career interests.
    • Summaries work well for those with several years of professional experience.
    • Use this section as an opportunity to highlight your strengths and skills.
  • Include an education section.
    • The education section should include the school name, location of the school, date of graduation (actual or anticipated), degree earned, and GPA (if over 3.0).
    • If you have substantial work experience, this section can be brief, and you may want to include it after your professional experience.
    • If you are a current student, you may want to expand your education section to highlight relevant coursework, honors, and activities.
  • Include an experience section.
    • The experience section should present your past and present employment. Be sure to include the company name, location, position title, dates of employment, and a description of responsibilities and results.
    • Remember that relevant projects completed during internships, assistantships, and Master’s Projects can be included as relevant experience.
  • Include a skills section.
    • Including a section specifically on skills allows employers to gain a better idea of your qualifications rather than gleaning your skills from the description of your past work experience.


Resume Do’s:

  • Target a specific job position in your resume. List only qualifications the position advertises, and customize your resume for each application.
  • Tailor your resume to your audience. Use informational interviews as an opportunity to find out what the company values in regards to qualifications, skills, and personal traits.
  • Keep your resume to one page. Resumes rarely get more than a 30-second review, so keep your resume brief and to-the-point.
  • Use key words relevant to your field or sector. Key words found within the job description are a good place to start.
  • Presentation matters. Ensure you have adequate white space on your resume and that you are consistent in formatting throughout the document.
  • Be flawless. Your resume should be completely free of spelling errors and typos. Spell check does not always catch these mistakes. Make use of resources available to you through the Communications Studio or Career Services to ensure you have a second pair of eyes on your resume.
  • Quantify when you can. Numbers often speak louder than words and demonstrate the magnitude of your results.
  • Write with the intention of creating interest, not with the intention of simply conveying your job history.
  • Consider the file name of your resume. Keep in mind that the file name of your resume is the first thing that employers see.

Resume Don’ts:

  • Do not use acronyms or abbreviations.
  • Do not be redundant.
  • Do not lie or over-exaggerate your skills.
  • Do not advertise negative information.
  • Do not include pictures of yourself, personal information (other than your contact information), or anything political/religious.
  • Do not use a font that is unprofessional.



Capone, G. (n.d.). Resume Formatting Best Practices. Palladian International. Retrieved from

Cleveland Institute of Art. (n.d.) Best Practice for Resume Writing. Retrieved from

Purdue Owl. (2013). Resume Workshop. Retrieved from

Rockport Institute. (n.d.). Resume Writing: How to Write a Masterpiece of a Resume. Retrieved from

University of South Florida. (2016). Resume Do’s and Don’ts. Retrieved from


Duke University Career Center. (n.d.) Resume.