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 you maintain an archival resume with all of your positions and salary history and use the archival resume to pull necessary and relevant information for creating modified versions of your resume.

Purpose of a Resume

A resume summarizes your education, experiences, and qualifications as they relate to your career goal(s). The primary purpose of a resume is to market yourself to a potential employer in the hope of securing an interview. The resume and the cover letter provide the prospective employer with a first impression of you. 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 position.

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. Reference Sample Resume #9 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 backward
  • Consider using a traditional font (such as Times New Roman) and resist the urge to get too creative
  • 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 Content
  • Keep the target job or internship description in mind when writing your resume
  • Give more space and emphasis on 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 but are appropriate if you are applying to a scientific or scholarly research position or graduate school. Also, longer resumes are appropriate for certain industries where extensive experience such as community engagement or performing arts is relevant

Name, Telephone, Email and LinkedIn URL (including your home address isn’t recommended)

  • Use your full name and set it apart from the body of the resume
  • For security reasons, do not include your address on your resume, especially if you are uploading your resume on an online job board. List one telephone number where you can be reached at all times, and where you have an appropriate voicemail greeting
  • We recommend creating a new email address (other than your address) dedicated to your job search and 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: a one-line title (or proposed title) of your thesis
  • Include the name of your high school if you are an underclass student, if it is relevant to your career or geographic pursuits or if it is nationally known; it is fine to leave this information out if you do not have enough room
  • While your grade point average (GPA) is generally not required on a resume, many employers 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. Otherwise, only include your GPA if it enhances your qualifications; see a counselor if you are uncertain.

Honors and Awards (optional)

  • This section can stand alone or can be included as part of your education section
  • List academic honors (e.g., Dean’s List) 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

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, fieldwork, special research projects, volunteer work, and extracurricular activities. Here are some tips:

  • Experience should be listed in reverse chronological order; include dates and location
  • Leadoff with the name of the employer or organization and your job title
  • 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
  • Use 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 your accomplishments and/or the results of your work, including promotions
  • Quantify your experience if possible (e.g., number of people involved, amount of money raised)

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 Success

  • Be honest
  • 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 the use of pronouns (I, my, etc.,) and abbreviations (except the two-letter code for states)
  • Minimize the use of articles (the, an, a) and prepositions (of, for, in, with)
  • Check for and eliminate misspelled words, typos, and grammatical errors!
  • Update your resume each time you change responsibilities and/or gain experience
  • Save your resume as both a Word and a 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
  • List the names, titles, addresses, and phone numbers of references on a separate document. Do not include them with your application unless requested to do so

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
  • Do not be bound by the particular headings listed in this guide
  • 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
  • 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
  • It is also recommended that you have someone in your field of interest provide feedback as well

Step 5 – Polish your resume

  • Proofread: your resume needs to be free of any typos or grammatical errors
  • It often takes a few drafts to refine what you have written
  • Your resume is dynamic – it will change often as you gain experience and determine your career path

Bates Center for Purposeful Work Resources

  • Use our Resume Examples to find the style of resume that fits your goals and experience
  • Stop by PW Drop-In hours to meet with a PW Peer Advisor and review your resume
  • Make an appointment via Handshake with an advisor for in-depth resume feedback

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 recommendation for you including their contact information. Listing references is optional. Another option is to include an additional document listing your references.