Think of your résumé as an ad for your accomplishments: it should be brief, easy to scan, well-organized, and clear. A person—or a computer—will quickly check it to see if you meet the hiring criteria for a job opening. Your goal is to showcase the qualifications you have that match the position requirements.
Create a master résumé template that includes everything relevant for your job search—major courses, summer jobs, significant projects, college organizations, GPA, skills, honors, publications, and activities—and then select from it each time you’re preparing to submit a job application. Keep your targeted résumés to a single page, and omit anything unrelated to the ad.
Top Five Résumé Tips
- Keep it simple. Don’t let fonts, colors, or a complex layout overshadow the content.
- Make it clear. Organize your information into logical categories: education, skills, work experience, awards, performances, exhibits, volunteering.
- Highlight your greatest accomplishments. You don’t need to go into detail about all of your jobs.
- Keep it focused. Single out specific skills and identify tasks to help an employer understand what you can do.
- Use a common format. Unless the ad states otherwise, submit a pdf so that your document looks exactly as you intend.
Begin with these major content areas, but if you have specialized experience or an ad focuses on a single skill group, reorganize and cut material to showcase your strengths.
Use only one street address, phone number, and email address. Include your personal website if you have one.
Include your year of graduation, degree (such as BA, BLA, or MArch), degree program, and university.
You do not have to include your GPA or colleges where you took a course or two. List minors and certificates, and note the date for any study abroad.
If subject areas are mentioned in the ad but you don’t have a degree in that field, list notable related coursework. You also might want to mention your capstone project, a graduate seminar you took, or major assignments.
Here’s the spot for on-the-job experience, freelance work, and volunteering and class projects if they’re relevant to the ad. Be concise, and use bullet points with powerful phrases or short but detailed sentences.
Mention software programs, platforms, and other particular elements of your work. Emphasize how you collaborated with others such as vendors, engineers, writers, community members, and performers. Follow your role all the way through a project: if you brainstormed, rendered, developed prototypes, created artwork, procured bids, prepared budgets, wrote specs, handled mailings, hired a crew, or contributed in other ways, be sure to mention it.
List software you have used grouped by topic and other technical skills here. Check the sample skills list for ideas. Keep qualities like creativity, leadership, attention to detail, and teamwork for your cover letter, where you can better explain how integral they’ve been to your accomplishments.
Awards & Honors
Include prizes, honors organizations, competition results, scholarships, grants, and other notable accomplishments with dates.
If you were an officer, be sure to include the positions you held with dates. If you were a member, you can list names of organizations only.
Service fraternities as well as positions with volunteer organizations can be included here. Mention dates, and if you helped achieve a significant goal—like raising $10,000 for a program or surpassing membership drive targets—note that here if those achievements relate to the posted position.
If you have been an officer on multiple occasions for volunteer, social, or extracurricular organizations, it may be beneficial to group that experience, especially if the ad calls for supervisory skills.
Specialized Categories for Artists & Designers
- Design Projects
- Juried Shows
- Selected Exhibitions
- Selected Group Shows
- Selected Solo Shows
- Teaching Experience
Specialized Categories for Dance & Theatre Professionals
- Choreographic Works
- Film Experience
- Selected Choreographers
- Selected Directors
- Selected Performances
- Special Skills
- Teaching Experience
- Theatre Experience
- TV Experience
Specialized Categories for Musicians & Composers
- Master Classes
- Notable Performances
- Notable Venues
- Principal Teachers
- Teaching Experience
Publications & Selected Press
If you have published work or have had your work reviewed, list your title or the title of the article with the reviewer’s name, the publication, the date, and the pages. Provide the URL for online material.
Check the job ad for reference requests, and put them on a separate page if you are to submit them with your application. The people you choose should be eager to speak enthusiastically about your qualifications and talents, so make sure you send them the job descriptions and details about the organization when you’re scheduled for an interview.
Look around for résumé examples that appeal to you and also fit your experience and skills. The samples are meant to serve as starting points for your material. If your expertise is in another field, look at the examples that are most closely related for ideas on how to arrange your résumé.