Puentes Abroad Résumé Guide
In the application process for an internship or job, the résumé allows the target employer to gain a quick impression of whether you could be a right fit for the position. The employer typically gains that impression from only about 10 seconds of scanning your résumé, so therefore it is crucial that it catches the employer’s eye and effectively presents a professional image of you. Think of your résumé as an advertisement for yourself and of the employer as your potential customer.
You want your résumé to be a powerful and yet subtle pitch for yourself as a candidate; don’t be afraid to showcase your achievements! It ought to be adapted for each job application, highlighting the experiences and skills most relevant to the position. Due to the small amount of review time your résumé will get, it should be highly readable and organized. Within each section, headlines and descriptions should be compelling, concrete, and concise. Moreover, any information you include ought to be accurate; it is possible your employer can follow up with any information you provided.
FORMATTING & STYLE
The visual effect of your résumé is very important. You ought to limit your résumé to one page. Formatting should be clean, classic, and uncluttered. Use a single, easy-to-read font such as Garamond, Calibri, Helvetica, or Times New Roman at 10 to 12 point. Anything smaller will be bothersome to read; anything larger will take up valuable space. Margins should be one inch or not much smaller. Between lines of text, using a space of 10 to 12 point size facilitates an easy visual experience. All sections ought to be aligned and ordered uniformly. Likewise, the use of bullet points, italics, bolding, and punctuation must be consistent. Remember to put dates in a consistent “Month Year” format too. Once you’ve filled out your résumé, proofread it several times to make sure it’s absolutely error-free.
CONTENT & WRITING
In describing your volunteer and/or work experience, use strong action words that clearly communicate your responsibilities and their impact. Avoid repeating the same words, and use verb tense consistently and appropriately: present tense for ongoing roles, past tense for completed responsibilities. To save space and time in reading, use bullet points to list descriptions. It is crucial that the descriptions of your achievements and responsibilities are both precise and compelling. Percentages, quantities, and dollars all show the potential employer that you can achieve concrete results, so incorporate as many numbers as possible when discussing your impact. Similarly, include specific information about your experiences, such as institution names, position titles, dates, and locations. All information should be in reverse chronological order, with the most recent information listed first within each of the résumé sections, as outlined below.
COMMON RÉSUMÉ SECTIONS
The header has your first and last name in large font, perhaps 20 to 24 point on one line, with a line below in smaller font at 10 to 12 point with your contact information, including your email, postal mailing address, and phone number. Remember that your email address should be professional and that your voicemail message should be appropriate.
This section is standard and typically goes at the top of your résumé, following the header. Include your university, degree, major, and expected graduation date. Only consider including your GPA if it is particularly high (3.5 or higher) and/or requested by your target industry, such as finance, engineering, or medicine. It is not recommended to list relevant coursework. Include any major academic awards or honors under the associated academic institution. If you have participated in study abroad, include the institution, location, dates, and a brief program description as its own listing. You can have information from high school too, but limit it to school name, location, graduation date, and major awards. Once you’ve gained significant work experience after graduating, the education section would be reduced and moved toward the end of your résumé.
Internships, student jobs, and other employment go in this section. Once previous work experiences become less relevant, they can be removed so that your résumé always has the most compelling and recent experiences on it. For each work experience, include the institution’s name, location, dates you worked, and your title. In the descriptions of your roles, list in bullet points your primary responsibilities and achievements, with the most important points listed first.
Leadership positions in extracurricular activities and volunteer work would go in this section, which you could also call “Volunteer Leadership Experience,” or some variation thereof. This section can further show an employer that you can take on commitments outside of what is required of you, developing teamwork, communication, and leadership skills along the way. Be specific here too: include organization name, title, descriptions of your leadership role at each organization, and dates. Limit according to space, relevance, and importance.
SKILLS & INTERESTS
If you have any special skills, add them to this section. Certifications, foreign languages, computer programming skills, and familiarity with certain software programs (Java, Photoshop, video editing, Google Analytics, for example) could all be valuable assets that set you apart from other applicants. Accurately and precisely describe your skill level in any of these areas. Aside from skills, including particular interests helps build a more personable image that might leave a memorable impression. So don’t be afraid to mention a unique hobby; carpentry, equestrian, and critiquing documentary films are all fair game. However, saying your interests are reading, listening to music, and exercise, for instance, comes off as forgettable and unessential.
The following offers an example resume format, as described above.