Developing an Effective Resume

Whether you decide to get a job or go to graduate school, you will need to communicate who you are to others. Your resume is often what makes your first impression, so it is imperative to make your resume an accurate, succinct representation of yourself and your accomplishments.

Resume vs. C.V.

The terms “resume” and “Curriculum Vitae” (C.V.) often are used interchangeably. However, they actually do differ in a few important ways. A resume is a brief (usually one page), direct, fact-by-fact summary of your skills, experience, and education. A C.V. contains a more detailed synopsis, including your academic background, teaching and research experience, publications, presentations, honors, awards, affiliations, and other details. Accordingly, the C.V. is generally much longer, often ranging from 5 to 10 pages or more.

In the United States, a resume is preferred when applying for a job. However, when applying for academic positions, research positions, and fellowships/grants, a C.V. is preferred. A company will usually indicate when they would like a C.V. instead of a resume. When applying abroad, it is safe to assume that you will need a C.V.

Developing a Resume

This is a brief overview of the process of writing a resume. Much of the information provided here directly from from, or based on, the UC Irvine Career Center website. We recommend you review the Career Center website, especially the job search guide, for additional more detailed information.

    1. Analyzing Your Potential Job and Evaluating Your Employer
      The most effective resumes are those that are tailored toward the specific job being sought. Take some time to analyze the job description for desired skills and abilities. You could also research the company to which you are applying – learn about their mission, company culture, and get a feel for what qualities are valued in their employees.
    2. Brainstorming
      Take some time to think about and create a list of your accomplishments and skills: things you did well, enjoyed doing, and were proud of. Include education, training, volunteer opportunities, jobs, relevant course work, projects, travel, and group/team activities. Don’t forget to consider your CHP involvement! Regardless of how active you have been in the extracurricular components of the CHP (which should also be included on your resume), you’ve had to complete rigorous honors coursework specially designed to challenge you to develop your critical thinking skills, communication style, and appreciation for academic fields, issues, and opinions different from your own. These skills (critical thinking, communication, and open-mindedness) are often among the most sought-after job skills, regardless of your field or employer. Furthermore, your honors research and thesis demonstrate that you have the capacity to work on a large, detailed project over an extensive period of time and can see a complicated project through to the end. Working effectively with a faculty advisor could shows experience working on a team/with a supervisor.
    3. Pre-Writing
      Describe your accomplishments and experiences in concise, specific detail: what you did, who you did it with, what equipment did you use, and what happened. Be sure to identify your personal strengths and skills, and highlight what you accomplished or learned through that experience. Give specific examples. Begin phrases with action verbs, quantify your results, and use commonly understood terminology. Refer to the Career Center’s Job Search Guide for a resume verb list if you need some inspiration.
    4. Choosing the Appropriate Resume Format
      In addition to being tailored to the particular position for which you are applying, your resume is a written should clearly support your career goal. Information should be presented in order of relevance to the position and the skills, knowledge, and abilities is requires.

      Chronological Format – organizes information by experiences in reverse chronological order, with the most recent positions first. It is the most commonly used.
      Hybrid/Functional Format – organizes information into groupings of skills or accomplishments
    5. Writing Your Resume
      Now that you’ve identified your many accomplishments and skills, prioritize them and pare them down. You may have many good experiences and skills, but you don’t need to list them all. A resume is generally one page long, as opposed to a C.V. (Curriculum Vitae), which can be 5-7 pages long. Take some time to tighten up the statements you came up with in step 3, but be sure to pack as much information into each bullet point as possible. Emphasize results produced, significant achievement, and recognition from others. If you still need to trim down, list only those skills that directly apply to the job or program you are seeking. Either way, you should highlight your qualities that the company wants to see (based on your research from step 1).

      Required Resume Components

      • Contact information
        Name (which should stand out – bold and enlarged), address, phone, professional email
      • Education
        • Name of school, degree, major(s) and minor(s), anticipated graduation date
        • Include coursework (just titles, not course numbers), if relevant to the position
        • Include study abroad experience
        • Include GPA (3.0 or higher)
      • Experience
        • Include paid, volunteer, leadership, or military experience
        • Note the organizations, your position, and dates of employment/participation
        • Emphasize duties and accomplishments appropriate to the position for which you are applying
        • List experiences in reverse chronological order
        • You may divide this section into specific categories, such as Related Experience, Additional Experience, Leadership Experience, Internship Experience, International Experience, etc.
        • Use past tense for past activities and present tense for current activities
        • Avoid using first-person pronouns

      Optional Resume Components

      • Objective
        • Brief statement indicating a specific job goal. May also highlight relevant skills
        • Focus on what you have to offer rather than what you want to gain from the experience
      • Summary
        • Brief list of the highlights of your qualifications; a quick way to brand yourself
        • Should communicate what you can bring to the table in the targeted role
      • Activities
        • List student activities, committees, professional associations
        • Describe any leadership roles or special projects
      • Research/Publications
        Describe relevant research projects and any posters, articles, or papers published
      • Projects
        Elaborate on relevant projects completed for a class
      • Skills
        Computer skills, lab techniques, office skills, or language skills (including details about your proficiency, if possible)
      • Community Involvement/Volunteer Service
        Describe involvement, leadership roles, and developed skills
      • Professional associations
        List involvement with professional associations
      • Honors
        Include academic honors, honor societies, and scholarships
      • Languages
        Include the language and level of proficiency, for example fluent or conversational, read and write

      Not Required

      • References
        Create a separate reference page that can be turned in during an interview/upon request. Make sure you have the following information available from your references: name, title, relation to you, address,telephone.
      • High School Experiences
        Leave the high school accomplishments aside unless they are exceptionally unique, impressive, and relevant.
    6. Editing
      Your resume should look neat. Consistency is key – use the same readable font type and size throughout your resume for consistency (although your name and contact information may be a different font/size). Make sure your margins and bullet size are consistent. You don’t have to use periods, but if you do be consistent. Avoid using templates because it is hard to work with the layout.The more concise, the better. Ideally, a resume is one page long, but you can expand to two pages if you have a lot of experience. With multiple page resumes, make sure that your most relevant/important experience is on the first page.
    7. Proofreading and Finishing Touches
      You should check the spelling of every word of your resume, and make sure grammar and punctuation are correct. Print your resume to make sure that your formatting looks good on paper. Have someone else proofread your resume, too, and get their feedback. When you print your resume to bring to interviews or career fairs, use resume-quality paper (which usually has a water mark).
    8. It’s Done!
      Congratulations! You’ve created an effective resume that succinctly describes your education and experience and specifically relates to the job or position you are applying for. If you would like to take the next step in making yourself stand out to a potential employer, then you should work on creating a cover letter to include with your resume (STRONGLY RECOMMENDED). A solid resume and cover letter will help you stand out in order to secure an interview!