How to Start Your Resume
Where to Start
The first thing you should do when starting your resume is to sit down in a quiet, comfortable place. From here you’ll need to begin brainstorming everything you can potentially put on your resume. As you think of something, jot it down on a piece of paper. It can be work experience (paid and unpaid), volunteer experience/community service, leadership experience, degrees you’ve received, certifications you have, internships, languages you know (phonetic and technical), awards you’ve received, classes you’ve taken, organizations you are a part of, skills you’ve acquired, clinical experience, research experience, training you’ve attended, publications, presentations, conferences you’ve attended, etc. The list is endless; list as many things as you can think of.
After doing so, you’ll want to think of all the skills you learned and everything you did while in each position. Check out this worksheet for help on formulating concise, but powerful, bullet points explaining your experience. When listing more than one position in a single section, ensure they are in reverse chronological order, starting with the most recent at the top to least recent at the bottom.
The next step will vary depending on the job you are applying for. You always want to tailor your resume to the company and job to which you are applying. What you’re creating now is simply called a, “master resume.” This master resume is where you will keep all your information and the document you will continually update. That way, when you are creating your resume for a specific company, you have all the information you need and just have to copy and paste it into a new document in the appropriate order.
Now that you have all this information jotted down on your master resume, how do you know where to put it on your job-specific resume? RESEARCH! Figure out what the company is about and what they stand for. For example, Company A may focus on its public persona and encourage employees to perform community service every month, while Company B may focus on meeting corporate goals and require its employees to focus on work, and work only. By knowing this, you would want to rank your community engagement higher on Company A’s resume and lower on Company B’s resume. You want the most important section at the very top of the document with the least important section (but still vitally important) nearer the bottom. The reason behind putting the most important information at the top of the resume rather than near the bottom is relatively simple. If there was a hiring manager who needed to go through 1,000 resumes for a single position in one day, he or she may try to save time by only reading the top half of the resume, and if he's not impressed by that, he may move on to the next resume. By putting your most important information at the top, you combat the chance of them missing something important due to burying it in your resume.
After you’ve ordered your resume section by importance, it’s time to get to the fine-tooth comb details. The ones that are nitpicky but are easily picked up as lack of attention to detail. The most noticeable mistake when reading a resume, is formatting. If the formatting is off, it throws the whole resume off. Some common mistakes are, consistent spacing, bullet point alignment, date alignment, date format consistency (mm/yy, year, mo year, semester year, etc.), locations (the whole address is not required, just city, State: Omaha, NE), dashes, commas, spelling, and grammar. There also should be no sentences - only bullet points on your resume.
Some small tips to keep in mind: University of Nebraska at Omaha (when written out), Bachelor of Science in Political Science (full degree name), GPA: 3.8/4.0 (x/4.0 scale), references aren't required on resume - company will ask if they need them during application, high school diploma/high school activities don’t need to be on your resume after your freshman year of college, one page (exception: 10+ years work experience, education major), avoid templates. A list of sample resumes can be found on the ACDC website. For even more information about resumes, check out our College to Career Resource Guide and Workbook.
Once you formulate the first copy of your resume, be sure to stop by the Academic & Career Development Center in Eppley 115 to get it reviewed! Stop by or call us at 402-554-3672 to schedule an appointment!