Create a Professional Résumé
For Wright State University students and alumni, we offer assistance for new résumé development or critique of an existing résumé.
To schedule an appointment, call (937) 775-2556 and speak to the front desk. Appointments are available during regular office hours, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., except university holidays.
Writing your first résumé?
Getting your résumé ready to upload in The Wright Search, for employers to review?
Get Quick, Basic Tips for Appropriate Content
- Research the organization to which you are applying.
- Organize your résumé to match the expectations and requirements of the job opportunity.
- Emphasize information about you that fits the culture and mission of the company.
- Information should be organized from top to bottom, left to right, with the most relevant information toward the top of the page. As you move down the page, information should still be relevant, but less so.
- In describing your job responsibilities, start each task or duty description with an action verb that describes the essence of your duty. For example, "Demonstrated new products." "Resolved customer complaints."
- Provide details of your successes. For example, "Achieved highest annual sales in department, totaling $25,000 gross compared to $19,000 average." "Served as hall advisor and program organizer for 40 residential students ranging from freshman to senior status, representing all majors." "Volunteered for Habitat for Humanity, committing 500 hours to home construction in Xenia, Ohio, between September and December 1999."
- Detailed but succinct, bullet-pointed phrases beginning with action verbs are appropriate way to convey descriptions of your experience. You do not need to use complete sentences or punctuate with periods on your résumé.
- Include class projects of significant duration or impact in a "Projects" section on your résumé.
- Include volunteer activities, professional affiliations, and clubs.
- You can include classes relevant to your major and concrete qualifications for the job, particularly if you do not have much or any experience in your field.
- Include all certifications valued by or necessary in your field, prominently displayed toward the top of your résumé.
- Do not include personal information.
- Do not list references on your résumé unless the employer’s instructions specifically say to do so.
- Do not include high school activities unless they are of national or international prominence, are relevant to your objective and you are a recent high school graduate.
- Keep the format consistent throughout the document so readers know where to find things.
Sample résumés in this section show formatting suggestions for traditional, paper copy as well as electronic representations of those paper copy résumés (viewed in Word or PDF format).
There are a variety of other ways to present résumé information, which you may hear about or be asked to provide, including but not limited to:
- text (rather than a Word or other processed document) that is uploaded into online, job application websites
- résumé information uploaded into a LinkedIn account or other social media or digital format
- résumés submitted for federal government jobs or other opportunities with specific formatting requirements
- résumé information posted to a personal website
- text included in an email message
- video résumé
Listing these methods of résumé formatting does not imply endorsement, but is provided for your information.
Different formatting rules apply to the various methods of communicating your résumé.
Expect to redesign and reformat your résumé for each new method that you utilize, just as you must rearrange the information on your traditional résumé for each job to which you apply, tailoring the document to the specifics of the opportunity.
Career Services offers weekly, walk-in Résumé Workshops: Event Calendar & Details
Work Through Our Self-Serve, Step-by-Step Résumé Workshop
Documents download in portable document format, readable using Adobe® Acrobat Reader®.
How to construct your résumé:
- Get Started Creating Your Résumé (PDF)
- Follow Résumé Guidelines (PDF)
- Follow Résumé Guidelines specifically for Teacher Candidates (PDF)
- Writing Bullet Point Statements (PDF)
- Clarify Content with Action Verbs (PDF)
- Conduct a Self Evaluation (PDF)
Format your résumé for a professional appearance:
Review a sample résumé layout
Setting a right-aligned tab for résumé layout
For word-processed résumé formatting, to align city and state info and dates of service info from the right margin, insert a right-aligned tab.
Setting the right-aligned tab is most efficient if you set it before you create a document, but can be done on a line by line basis.
Do not use the space bar to mimic right alignment. The space bar tricks the eye, but not the electronic underpinnings of the software. If you print a document where the space bar has been used to imitate alignment, the misalignment will often be apparent.
Here's a quick explanation of how to set the right-aligned tab in Microsoft Word on your résumé. There are no key commands in the software for this process, therefore the instructions rely on visually-identified icons, symbols, and positions:
- There is a small, selection box in the upper left of the Word screen, above the vertical ruler.
- When you select the symbol in that box, the enclosed marker changes.
- The default (preset) marker is a left-aligned tab, which looks somewhat like a capital L.
- Get to the right-aligned tab by selecting options until you have what resembles a backward L.
- If you pull your mouse arrow away from this box with the backward L, then put your mouse over it again, an alt tag will appear that identifies it as Right Tab.
- Then, move your mouse arrow to the document ruler.
- Set your right-aligned tab a few spots away from the right margin (you cannot initially set it on the right margin)
- Select the newly set right-aligned tab marker and drag it to the spot on the ruler that is even with the right margin marker.
Why we recommend right-aligned résumé content
Use of right-alignment enhances the neatness and organization of your résumé.
Recruiters may take 20 to 30 seconds on the first go-round to visually scan your résumé. If you present information to them in well-assembled visual bits that fit a predictable pattern, they will find your document easier to use - and that ease of use will contribute to the overall, positive impression you are trying to make.
What you did and where you did it (title and organization) have more importance in the hierarchy of information than the location and dates. In English, information placed on the left side of the page will be read before information on the right side of the page.
It is also likely that you will present your experience under headings that group by types of experience, rather than in straight, reverse chronological order, in which case the dates do not function as a primary piece of information.
When résumés are being reviewed by a person (as opposed to a computer), too much information ganged together can slow up the visual scan of the résumé, and slow up the time it takes to separate and process the information. When you separate the title and company names from the dates and locations by a restful dose of white space, in a predictable pattern on the page, you give the reviewer's eye and brain well-organized access to easily-processed chunks of information, with a predetermined hierarchy of importance.
Why put the location and dates on at all, you might ask. Good question! When you did the tasks, fulfilled the responsibilities, and achieved accomplishments is important because it speaks to how up-to-date your skills are; how recently you exhibited a habit of leadership, achievement, and teamwork (or other positive qualities); and of course, how recently you were employed in a relevant field. Where geographically you did it speaks to the depth and breadth of your professional and cultural background.
There are times when vertical space considerations might not allow the right alignment of dates and places. For example, you might need to adjust the formatting to reflect the dates and places in one line across the page.
Always plan for the ease of your end user.
If the style you use to format a résumé will be subjected to a human, visual scan, the basic advice is to make the formatting consistent throughout the document and therefore predictable. Based on your first few entries on the résumé, the reviewing eye and brain are assembling predictions about how and where they will find information on the rest of the page.
If your résumé information is orderly and systematic, the reviewer will acquire your information in an orderly and systematic way, making the job of assessing you easier and happier. Your work will impress them as orderly, systematic, and effective. In contrast: if your information is presented in a new way with each entry, that makes information retrieval a more involved and labor-intensive process for the reviewer, and you may be perceived as unreliable, disorganized and ineffective.
Set single spacing using Microsoft formatting tools
Single or double vertical spacing can managed through settings in word-processing programs. For résumé development, we recommend setting single spacing as the default setting.
Contrast and Compare Your Résumé with Sample Résumés
Documents download in portable document format, readable using Adobe® Acrobat Reader®.
Résumé samples are provided to assist you with ideas for layout and content for creating your own, one of a kind résumé.
Résumé samples include:
- Student employment
- Intern with project
- Co-op with tech skills
- Career with summary
- Career with clinical experience
- Career, graduate degree with field experience
- Career, graduate degree with tech skills (2 pages)
- Career, functional format
Should I include my references on my résumé?
References should be listed on a separate sheet using the same heading (name, address, etc.) as on your résumé. This creates a consistent, professional image. You should list 3 to 6 professional references who can speak about your work. When listing references, include their name, title, and contact information. Always ask a person before listing them as a reference and provide them with a copy of your résumé. This will assist them when they are called to provide a reference for you.
What type of paper should I use?
Use a high quality 20 lb. or heavier paper in white or other neutral tones. Colored paper, when copied, often times looks muddy and unprofessional.
What is the best way to submit a résumé electronically?
If possible, ask the employer what format they prefer.
Some options for submitting an electronic résumé are: Word document, PDF, or plain text document.
Some online application sites request that you upload your document into a database in a particular format. Other online application sites as that you paste your résumé content into a text box.
It is a good idea to create your résumé in a variety of formats to accommodate these methods of application.
When documents are submitted into a database via an online application system, they may be subjected to a computerized keyword search. The employer is looking for those items that they have determined to be important to execute the job duties and responsibilities. Keywords can often be found in the job description, but not always. It is important to benchmark jobs in your field to know what qualifications, trainings, certifications, skills and other assets represent keywords. Read our advice on jobs benchmarking ›
What type of font should I use?
Since many résumés today are submitted electronically or scanned, it is important to select a font that is not overly cursive. Good selections are serif fonts such as Bookman, Garamond, Palatino, and Times New Roman or sans serif fonts such as Arial and Arial Narrow. Use a font size between 10 and 12.
What is the proper format for my résumé?
The format for your résumé depends on your experience. The reverse chronological résumé is probably the most common for new college graduates. In this format, your educational background and work experience are listed so your most recent degree or job is first and you work backwards from there.
The functional résumé is typically used for individuals making a career change or those who do not have work experience in their targeted area. This format highlights specific skills that are transferrable to the targeted job. Some skill areas might be Leadership Skills, Customer Service Skills or Planning Skills. Be sure to target these to match the requirement of the specific job to which you are applying.
The combination format utilizes features from the chronological and functional résumé formats.
What is the appropriate length of a résumé?
For most new college graduates, a one page résumé will be sufficient. In some cases, a two page résumé may be warranted. Remember, however, that a perspective employer will spend only about 15 to 45 second reading your résumé. Therefore, you will want to format your résumé so it can be easily and quickly scanned to find pertinent information.
What are some strong action verbs?
The list of Action Verbs opens in a separate window using Adobe® Acrobat Reader®.
What type of information should my résumé include?
Review our Résumé Guidelines
Should I list all of my job duties from my previous employment?
You should highlight those things that set you apart from other candidates. Instead of providing a laundry list of previous job responsibilities, focus on your accomplishments. Be sure to connect these to the job requirements.
How much time do employers typically spend reviewing a résumé?
Employers typically spend fifteen to forty-five seconds the first time. The initial scan is to sort résumés into “yes” and “no” stacks. Your goal is to get your résumé into the “yes” stack so that the employer will go back and read it more carefully and invite you to an interview.
Should I list my GPA on my résumé?
If your Cumulative GPA is 3.0 or higher, include it on your résumé. If your Cumulative GPA is lower than 3.0, but your Major GPA is 3.0 or higher, list only your Major GPA.
How should my educational experience be listed?
List your degree first in its entirety, i.e., Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. It is a good idea to highlight this. Next list the date the degree was conferred, followed by the name of the institution and the city and state.
How do I start to write my résumé?
The best way to start is to develop a list of all your previous work experience. List all of your jobs on a sheet of paper. Then begin to compile a list of all of your job responsibilities, special projects and accomplishments. This can serve as the springboard for the experience section of your résumé as you begin to develop short, bullet point statements of your accomplishments beginning each with a strong action verb.
What is the purpose of a résumé?
The purpose of a résumé is to provide a prospective employer with an overview of your credentials including your educational background and work experience. The résumé should be written so that it will entice them to invite you for an interview. One way to think of a résumé is as a marketing tool, and the product is you.
- Top item (opener) and bottom item (closer) have power
- Contact info must be prominent
- Students: university, focus of study is important
- Document communicates sense of direction
- Include key achievements with details
- Identify top accomplishments for each position with one or two bullet points
- If using an objective, communicate role or specific job opportunity