University of Vermont

Build a Resume

What is a resume?

A resume is a document that provides a concise outline of your job-related experiences and academic background. The purpose of a resume is not to get you a job, but an interview. Resumes are a screening device for employers so they can decide whether you are someone they would like to meet and learn more about.

Think of your resume as a commercial: How can you best present yourself? Know your audience and highlight what you can offer them!

These guidelines are general suggestions, not hard and fast rules. Resume content, formats, and styles may vary according to individual preferences and career fields (e.g., what is "creative" in advertising and public relations may be too flashy for finance or physical therapy).

Resume Guidelines

  • Know your audience: As much as possible, include experiences that are relevant to the work you seek. Use the jargon of the field if you know it. If you don't, do some research.
  • Advertise your strengths: Write powerfully, beginning your statements with action verbs. See a list of resume action verbs.
  • Focus on accomplishments and the results of your work. Use numbers and/or percentages when possible to make your examples more specific and impressive.
  • Make your resume skimmable: The body and layout should be concise. Write in fragments, not sentences. Put fragments in paragraph form or list them with a bullet point or other symbol preceding.
  • Use clear and articulate writing: Be sure to proofread multiple times and review for grammatical, spelling or punctuation errors.

How do I list my experience?

Make a list of all your past and present job and accomplishments. Make sure to include what you did (your responsibilities and skills used/developed) and to what extent. Remembering what you did may be easier if you think about your experiences in the following categories.

  • Jobs
  • Education
  • Community service
  • Technical skills
  • Internships
  • Campus activities
  • Research experience
  • Significant class projects
  • Awards/honors
  • Foreign languages

How do I organize my resume?

Chronological resumes

Chronological resumes list jobs and experiences in reverse chronological order with most recent work first. This style of resume is most frequently used by students and recent graduates.

  • Easiest to prepare
  • Easiest for employers to read
  • Most familiar to employers
  • Reveals employment gaps
  • Can emphasize experiences you want to minimize
Functional resumes

Functional resumes present information under headings. Abilities and experiences are grouped according to job-related functions such as research, statistical analysis, outreach, supervision and teaching.

  • Emphasizes skill areas applicable to a specific field of work
  • Not typically used by recent college graduates, so these resumes stand out
  • More difficult to write
  • Requires an in-depth look at the skills you possess, how you developed them, and which you choose to market

What are common headings/sections?

Contact information

Make sure your full name is at the top of your resume and stands out from your address. Remember you want to be noticed.

  • If you are between addresses, you may want to list two present address and permanent address (usually relatives who know how to contact you).
  • Include an e-mail address and be sure to check it regularly.
  • Tip: Avoid inappropriately named e-mail addresses (such as sparklewings@gmail.coml).

The education section should list schools you attended in reverse chronological order with degrees and graduation dates or expected graduation dates.

  • You can also include certificates awarded, specialized course work, and overseas study.
  • Honors and awards can also be included in this section for example: scholarships, GPA (if over 3.0) and academic/school-related awards (e.g. Dean's List, honor societies or "Work-Study Student of the Year").
  • Listing high school is optional.

Your experience section can be arranged in a number of ways or divided into more than one section, depending on your individual experiences. It should be organized in reverse chronological order (most recent first).

Tips for Related experience of professional experience
  • These types of sections may include paid employment, volunteer positions, internships, and campus activities or independent study projects. They are examples of where you received "hands-on" experience that relates to the types of positions you are applying for and demonstrates exposure to and competence in your area of professional interest.
  • Each listing should include your position title, the organization, the locations (city and state), and dates you were involved.
  • Describe each experience using action verbs (e.g., "Supervised ten campus counselors," "Handled bookkeeping duties for family business"), including your responsibilities, skills used, and accomplishments. View action verbs that can help.

Tips for General employment or work history
  • Here, list only paid experiences (full-time, part-time/work-study, summer jobs) that are not professionally related (if you've used a "related experience" category).
  • Give job titles, organization names, locations, dates and a brief description of responsibilities, accomplishments and/or skills.
  • Lead off your descriptions with active verbs. See action verbs list.
Optional sections

The following sections are optional and should be included only if they market you effectively. Remember your space limitations: a one page resume is generally recommended, especially for recent graduates.

  • Summary of qualifications or skills
  • Professional memberships or affiliations
  • Professional development
  • Licenses or certifications
  • Articles or publications
  • Student Leaderships
  • Activities
  • Interests or hobbies
  • Military experience
  • Honors and awards
  • Foreign languages
  • Computer skills
Professional objective:

A professional objective also called "job" or "career objective" is an optional statement.

  • It should be concise (one or two sentences) and indicate the type of work or position you are seeking.
  • It should suggest as clearly as possible a sense of purpose and direction. Avoid vague or overly general statements
  • It is not always appropriate or necessary to include an objective on your resume. You may want to include these statements in your cover letter instead, enabling you to tailor your application to specific jobs and organizations.


Seeking a position as a physical therapist in a clinical environment.

Objective: To obtain an entry-level position in the field of public relations


References are people you contact who agree to speak with potential employers regarding their interactions with you. Your references should be professional references, not personal - meaning that they should be able to provide insight regarding your skills, experiences, and work ethic.

This section is optional in that an employer will ask for your references whether or not you indicate that your references are "available upon request". When identifying professional references, you should list them on a separate page, providing names, titles, work addresses, phone numbers, e-mail, and fax numbers. Read reference FAQs.

Sample list of references:
    References for Harris Millis
    Ms. Rachel Redstone
    Director, Jones Research
    111 Jones Lane
    Burlington, VT 05401

    Ms. Redstone was my internship supervisor at Jones Research.

    Dr. Ira Chittenden
    Professor, English Department
    University of Vermont
    200 Old Mill
    Burlington, VT 05405

    Dr. Chittenden was my academic advisor as well as my thesis advisor.

    Ms. Tracy Trinity
    Program Director, King Street Youth Center
    100 King Street
    Burlington, VT 05401

    Ms. Trinity hired me first as a general volunteer and then as the coordinator of the King Street Youth Center Writing Club.

How do I submit my resume electronically?

Many employers will ask you to submit your resume via e-mail. Clarify whether they would like your resume as an attachment or in the body of the e-mail. Follow their directions exactly!

  • If the employer would like your resume in the body of the e-mail, copy and paste the content of your resume in, delete all formatting (underlines, bullets, tabs, etc.) Left justify everything.
  • If the employer would like your resume as an attachment, make sure you submit your resume as a PDF. This ensures your formatting stays consistent.
  • Attach your resume with your name as the title (e.g., SallyStudentResume.doc). You can include your cover letter in the body of the the e-mail or as a separate attachment. If you are sending as an attachment, include a short statement in the body of the e-mail, such as,

    "Please find attached my cover letter (title) and resume (title), expressing my interest for (the) position. Please let me know if you need any further information."

  • You may be asked to submit your resume directly through a company/organization website or a third party job search site (e.g. Experience, Career Builder). Be sure to save your resume as a PDF to maintain formatting.
  • How do I present and deliver my resume?

    If you are mailing an application, be sure to use high-quality printing for your resume. Make copies on resume quality paper and include a cover letter on matching paper. You can send these documents in a large envelope or a business envelope that matches your resume and cover letter paper.

    Last modified February 02 2018 08:56 AM