What is a resume?

A resume is a document that provides a concise outline of your work-related experiences and academic background. It tells a story about you - your skills, experiences, responsibilities and accomplishments.  

In a job search, the purpose of a resume is not to get you the 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.


For More In-Depth Resume Advice

From building your first resume to landing your first job, the UVM Career Center has developed a series of self-paced learning modules in Blackboard to help through every stage! Get feedback on your resume or cover letter in under 48 hours, learn more about joining an interest group for tailored career counseling, practice your elevator pitch, and more.

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Your Guide to Resumes

Resume Guidelines

These guidelines are general suggestions, not hard and fast rules. Resume content, format, and style may vary according to individual preferences and career fields (e.g., what is creative in marketing or publishing may not be appropriate for finance or physical therapy).

  • Know your audience: Include experiences that are relevant to the work you seek. Use keywords of the field. If you don't know them, do some research.
  • Advertise your strengths: Write powerfully, beginning your statements with action verbs. 
  • Focus on accomplishments and results: 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: Proofread multiple times and review for grammatical, spelling, or punctuation errors.

Resume Content

Your resume content should be organized into sections such as Education, Experience, Activities, and Skills. Adjust your section titles to fit your experience and work history. For example, if you have a good deal of student leadership experience in UVM clubs, you can create a section titled Student Leadership. This video shares ways you can develop the descriptive content in each of your various sections.  

Action Verbs

Begin your descriptive statements with action verbs. These have an immediate impact and help a reader envision you in a particular role. Plus, they are easily skimmable. Here's a list of action verbs to help you add more depth to your descriptive statements. 

Resume Samples

There are many ways to structure your resume. Check out these sample student resumes.