Resume and CV Guide

Resume/CV Writing Guide

This guide is designed to help you construct the first draft of your resume. While there is no one “right” format, the Bates Center for Purposeful Work suggests using the following guidelines and resume examples to create a general format for your resume that may be modified as needed. We recommend that you maintain an archival resume with all of your positions, classes, projects, and awards and use the archival resume to pull necessary and relevant information for creating modified versions of your resume that are specific to whichever application(s) you are applying for.

Additional resources for resume writing:

Purpose of a Resume

A resume summarizes your education, experiences, and qualifications as they relate to your goals. The primary purpose of a resume is to provide the prospective employer with a first impression of you and your experiences. It is not necessary to include every single experience in your background. Therefore, your resume should call attention to your experiences, skills and accomplishments that are most relevant to the opportunity you are applying for.

Purpose of a Curriculum Vitae (CV)

Unlike a resume, a CV encapsulates your educational and academic background, including teaching and research experience, publications, presentations, awards, honors, and affiliations. CVs are appropriate for graduate school applications and academic positions such as faculty openings and assistantships; also, CVs are used for grant, scholarship, and fellowship applications. Note that if you are applying to a postition outside of the US, a CV is a common synonym for a resume. Reference the “How to Write a CV” section below for specific instructions on how to create a CV.

Resume Format and Style

  • The most common resume format is in reverse chronological order in which education and experience (both paid and unpaid) are listed with the most recent and working backwards
  • Consider using a traditional font (such as Times New Roman) and resist the urge to get too creative; however there are industries and employers where this could apply
  • Use a minimum font size of 10-point, and a maximum of 12-point; font size should be consistent throughout your resume
  • Be selective when using bold, italics, underlining, and capitalization to emphasize words and headings; overuse will distract from its effectiveness
  • Use white space and consistent formatting to create a document that flows smoothly and is aesthetically pleasing
  • Avoid using tables to format your resume; tables can alter text alignment, making revisions frustrating
  • Never include graphics or a photo of yourself when applying for positions in the US
  • Don’t forget to put your name clearly at the top


  • Keep the target job or internship description in mind when writing your resume
  • Give more space and emphasis to the aspects of your experience that are most pertinent to the position
  • Typically, resumes written by college students and recent graduates are limited to one page
  • Two page resumes are the exception and are appropriate if you are applying to a scientific or scholarly research position or graduate school. Longer resumes are also appropriate for certain industries where extensive experience such as community engagement or performing arts is relevant

Contact Information (required)

  • Use your full name and set it apart from the body of the resume
  • Your physical address is not necessary on a resume. For security reasons, you may want to exclude your address from you resume if you are uploading it to online job boards. 
  • List one telephone number where you can be reached at all times, and where you have an appropriate voicemail greeting
  • Include your Bates email address or create a new email address dedicated to your job search; whichever you use, be sure to check it regularly

Education (required)

  • List the name(s) of college(s) attended (including off-campus study), location (city and state or country), degree or certificate received (spell out Bachelor of Arts or Science), expected date of completion, major/minor/concentration
  • Include your senior thesis with one-line that includes the title (even if it is in the proposal phase)
  • High school is optional on a resume. Include the name of your high school if you are an underclass student or if it is relevant to your career or geographic pursuits; it is fine to leave high school out if you need space to emphasize newer college experience
  • While your grade point average (GPA) is generally not required on a resume, many employers, specifically in finance and consulting, require the GPA be included. If the job description lists a required minimum GPA, then you should include your GPA on the resume, referencing the Bates 4.0 scale. Otherwise, only include your GPA if it enhances your qualifications (generally above a 3.5); see a Purposeful Work advisor if you are uncertain

Honors & Recognition (optional)

  • This section can stand alone or can be included as part of your education section
  • List academic honors (e.g., Dean’s List,) athletic honors (e.g., Fall All-NESCAC) and any achievements that demonstrate academic excellence
  • Senior thesis may be included here, especially if you were selected to complete an honors thesis
  • Provide a brief description of any awards received; include relevant dates and organizations

Experience (required)

This section shows how your work experience relates to your career or job choice and demonstrates to the employer that you have the skills necessary to do the work. Include relevant experiences and skills gained from any of the following: full-time, summer, and part-time work, internships, field work, special research projects, unpaid/volunteer work, and extracurricular activities. Here are some tips:

  • Experience should be listed in reverse chronological order, with the most recent experience at the top; always include dates and location
  • Lead off with the name of the employer or organization and then your job title (e.g. intern, volunteer)
  • Emphasize experiences that illustrate your strengths, interests and transferable skills (e.g., leadership, communication, research, customer service)
  • Use the job description to help focus on the most relevant required skills
  • Using bullet points, lead with action verbs to describe your responsibilities (e.g., researched, created); see list of action verbs on the last page of this guide
  • Verb tense will depend upon whether or not you are currently performing the tasks stated, i.e., use present-tense verbs for current experiences and past-tense for past experiences
  • Highlight the results of your work by describing the outcomes or impact 
  • Quantify your experience if possible (e.g., number of people involved, amount of money raised)
  • You may end each bullet point with or without a period, however, you must be consistent

Activities (optional)

  • This section is important for liberal arts students and recent graduates; it adds depth to your resume by showing commitment and involvement outside of academic coursework and employment
  • Include leadership positions and membership in clubs, organizations, and/or athletics
  • Illustrate how you progressed (e.g., member to the president, writer to the editor)
  • Briefly elaborate on your role(s) and provide descriptions of activities that require explanation
  • Know your audience: readers outside of the Bates community will not be familiar with the terms “Mount David Summit” or “Short Term”; include brief explanations when necessary

Skills and Interests (optional)

  • Highlight special skills that are applicable to the type of job sought; these could include foreign language proficiency (e.g., highly proficient in Spanish) computer, technical, scientific and/or artistic skills, or special certifications
  • Include any specific interests not otherwise noted on your resume that you want prospective employers to know about you (e.g., extensive global travel experience, skiing, ballroom dancing)
  • After you decide what you will include in this section, choose an appropriate heading name (e.g., Skills and Interests, Interests and Achievements)
  • Personal data such as religious affiliation, marital status, and date of birth should not be included

Tips for Resume Success

  • Be honest, but don’t be humble – show off how amazing and qualified you truly are!
  • Emphasize measurable results and accomplishments with facts and figures whenever possible
  • Be consistent in your use of headings, verbs, grammar, hyphens, indentations, and bullets
  • Avoid use of pronouns (I, my, etc.,) and abbreviations (except the two-letter code for states)
  • Minimize use of articles (the, an, a) and prepositions (of, for, in, with)
  • Check for and eliminate misspelled words, typos, and grammatical errors – this is SO IMPORTANT!
  • Update your resume each time you change responsibilities and/or gain experience
  • Save your resume as both a Word and PDF document. Review and check for any visible edits, redlines or formatting discrepancies
  • Save your resume with a relevant document name: “Joanna Bates – Resume – Research Assistant”
  • Follow employer guidelines on the type of document accepted for online applications. Use a PDF version when emailing your resume
  • Use a separate document for references. After asking permission, list two to three professional contacts (supervisors, professors, coaches) who will speak positively about your contributions.  Include name, organization, title, email address, and phone number.  Do not include references with your application unless requested

How to Get Started Step 1 – Brainstorm

  • List your jobs, major activities, educational experiences, and accomplishments during the last five years
  • Describe your experience
  • Think about the skills you used in each job/activity and choose action verbs (attached list) which most accurately describe your responsibilities and accomplishments
  • Focus on how you added value to the organization

Step 2 – Organize your information

  • Determine the best way to group your experiences and choose appropriate section headings
  • Your most relevant experiences should be included nearer the top of the page to catch the reader’s eyes, even if they are not the most recent experience
  • Choose a style that best suits your needs

Step 3 – Format your information by writing a draft

  • Select substantive action verbs to lead off each experience
  • Decide how best to emphasize certain pieces of information (e.g. job title, employer) with the use of bold type, italics, and/or capitalization; but make sure not to over-use certain formatting that can reduce the importance of different information (e.g. too much bold or underlining)
  • Concise yet specific language is most effective

Step 4 – Have your resume reviewed

  • It is important to have your resume reviewed by the Bates Center for Purposeful Work. You can come to drop-ins without an appointment or make an appointment with PW Advisor
  • It can be helpful to share your resume with someone who works in your field of interest, such as an internship supervisor, Bates alumni, or another type of networking contact

Step 5 – Polish your resume

  • Proofread: your resume needs to be free of any typos or grammatical errors. Note that is should be done throughout the process as well
  • It often takes a few drafts to refine what you have written
  • Your resume is dynamic – it will change often as you gain experience, apply for different positions, and determine your career path

Bates Center for Purposeful Work Assistance

We’re here for you! We offer drop-in resume reviews with Purposeful Work Peer Advisors whenever classes are in session; see our website for a full schedule of Drop-In Hours. You can also email us at or schedule an appointment on Handshake with one of our professional staff.

When and how to write a Creative Resume

A creative resume is only appropriate for creative positions, and it allows you to showcase your personality and aesthetic flare while highlighting your creative skills.

Meaningful Creative Resume Tips:

  • There are several excellent software programs you can use to create your resume template (e.g., Adobe InDesign, or you can use existing creative templates from, Microsoft Office, and Google Docs)
  • Creative resumes must be clean, easy to read, and well-designed
  • Include your digital presence on your creative resume (e.g., online portfolio, Instagram feed, LinkedIn, Tumblr blog, etc.)
  • It’s vitally important to know whether or not a creative resume will be acceptable for a specific field or company; if you’re not sure, consult with staff at the Bates Center for Purposeful Work who can help you get advice from knowledgeable alumni in the field

When and how to write a Curriculum Vitae (CV)

A CV (Curriculum Vitae) is a detailed overview of your accomplishments, especially those most relevant to academia. It is typically used when pursuing a job in academia or research and is usually 2 or 3 pages in length for someone in the beginning stages of a graduate school career. Like resumes, information within sections of a CV is usually organized in reverse chronological order.

A typical CV will include the following information:

  • Name and Contact Information
  • Education: a list of degrees earned or in progress, institutions, and years of graduation. You should also include the title of your thesis or capstone project.
  • Grants, Honors and Awards: a list of grants received, honors you have earned, and awards you have received for teaching or service.
  • Publications and Presentations: published articles, as well as presentations given at conferences or the Mt. David Summit.
  • Employment and Experience: teaching experience, laboratory experience, field experience, volunteer work, leadership, or other relevant experiences.
  • Scholarly or Professional Memberships: a listing of the professional organizations of which you are a member. If you have held an office or position, indicate here or leave for the experience section.
  • References: a list of persons who have agreed to write letters of recommendations for you including their contact information. Listing references is optional. Another option is to include an additional document listing your references.