CONTENT: What to Include on Your Resume
Contact Information in the Header
Your contact information, including your name (in bold and slightly larger size than the rest of the text), address, phone number, and professional email address, is always located at the top of the page, often centered.
Summary of Qualifications
Experienced alumni may wish to begin with a “Summary of Qualifications” section. This may consist of four to five sentences (or bullet points) with your most relevant qualifications. Unlike an objective, which focuses on aspirations and goals for the future, a summary informs prospective employers of your relevant skills and previous work experience (just the big picture). Ideally, your summary will help you differentiate yourself from the competition.
Include the name and location of colleges that you attend or attended, dates of graduation (month/year), degree(s) earned and major/concentration/specialty.If you’re a currently-enrolled student, write "Expected" or “Anticipated” before the month and year of graduation.
List other degrees or relevant education such as studies abroad or certificate programsIf you would like to include your GPA, use the correct format with either two or three digits: GPA: 3.2, or 3.24. Do not round up. We recommend listing GPA if it’s above 3.0. You can also add Dean’s List and other honors and awards, although it’s common to omit this information as time passes (in favor of more relevant/recent info).
Optional: List your relevant courses from Tufts or other institutions. Only include if relevant to the prospective employer; this is not meant to be your entire transcript.
Consider grouping your work experience into sections like Leadership Experience, Nonprofit Experience, Community Engagement (whichever titles will resonate with your reader). More sample sections are available here.
Include your place of employment, job title, location (city, state), dates of employment (listed on the right side of your resume), and a description of tasks/accomplishments for each experience. You can include summer and part-time jobs, as well as volunteer positions on your resume.
Use bullet points to describe different skills and achievements for each position. Begin each bullet point with an action verb (continue scrolling for a list). Avoid phrases like, "Duties included" or "Responsible for."
Create accomplishment statements by including 4 things: Verb | Quantify | Story | Results. For example: Taught class | for 20 incoming kindergartners | with behavioral challenges| and by the end of the week everyone had successfully learned new coping and meditation techniques.
Reflect on your transferable skills when writing accomplishment-focused bullet points. Use this worksheet to help you.
You may list language, computer, and/or laboratory skills. Include proficiency level for languages. Do not list soft skills like teamwork, communication or leadership.
Do Not Include
Personal pronouns (I, me, my, we) or unnecessary articles (a, the)
Salary requirements (If the employer asks you to complete an application form that requests salary requirements, you should comply, but do not include this information on your resume)
Inappropriate personal information (e.g. race, religion, political affiliation, marital status, citizenship, social security number, etc.) or other irrelevant information
Reasons for leaving previous jobs
Uncommon abbreviations or acronyms without providing the full name once
“References Available Upon Request” – you can have a separate document for references and provide it when requested
FORMAT: How to Display Your Information
Resumes are often formatted in reverse chronological style, i.e., beginning with your most recent position and working backward. By separating information into various sections (each formatted reverse chronologically), e.g., Marketing Experience, Technical Projects, you’ll be more able to control the order of your listed experiences. More sample sections are available here.
Additional formatting guidelines:
Length: One page if less than 5 years of experience; two pages maximum
Font: Use an easy-to-read font that scans well (e.g.,Arial, Arial Narrow, Calibri, Tahoma)
Size: Stay between 10 pt. and 12 pt. Your name can be larger than 12 pt.
Margins: Ideal margins are 1” or .75” all around, and no smaller than 0.5”
Dates: Uniformly formatted and not on left side
Highlight: Use bold, italics, and capitalization sparingly to make certain words or sections stand out
CUSTOMIZATION: How to Tailor Your Resume to Your Reader
Each hiring manager is looking for something different, based on the needs of the job and the organization as a whole. Part of strengthening resume bullets involves going beyond duties and responsibilities, i.e., what you're supposed to do, and reframing those statements to give specific examples of what you actually did and the difference it made (a.k.a. the impact) for your employer.
Here are three tips with examples for a targeted resume:
1. Match your skills and responsibilities to the ones listed in the job description.
Read through the full job description and pay careful attention to what the position entails. On your resume, include work experiences that most closely relate to those responsibilities.
If the job description states: Serve as a significant role model for effective and appropriate work behaviors, procedures, and practices. Act as a liaison and advocate for participants.
A tailored resume will say something like: Advocated on behalf of approximately 960 students and 23 student groups as primary representative to faculty and administration.
2. Specify accomplishments from your previous experience that relate to the job responsibilities.
It’s not enough to simply say you’ve done X. Show how your efforts produced a positive result for the organization. Be sure to select results that are of relevance and interest to the hiring organization.
If the job description states: Coordinate fundraisers for students and their families, increasing organization’s reach and publicity.
A tailored resume will include an accomplishment like: Led graduate-student inclusive philanthropy campaign, garnering 73% response rate from graduating class—highest in school’s history.
3. Indicate that you understand the needs of the organization and can meet them.
This will likely require a little more research and going beyond just the job description. Research the organization to identify the problems and issues it might currently be facing. Read through the website and press releases, set up a Google alert, read about their staff members and latest news. How might your combination of skills and experience be of benefit?
If you discover: The company is growing rapidly.
A tailored resume will include: Evidence that you can handle change and manage multiple priorities. Highlight your project management skills or note in your resume if your previous organization has a culture similar to the organization where you are applying.
For more tips, check out this article: How to Turn Your Duties into Accomplishments
The following documents, sourced from Tufts students and alumni, represent a range of experience levels and academic backgrounds. These are not templates to be copied; rather, we encourage you to use them to get a sense of the variety of ways you can display information and market yourself to potential employers.
How many versions of my resume should I create? If your search is focused on one type of position, a single version of your resume may be fine, along with a cover letter that is tailored to your employment target. If you’re applying to a wider range of positions, you need to tailor your resume in addition to creating a new cover letter for each position. This customization is essential to your marketing and requires research about the organization and industry.
How should I address a gap in my employment history? There are many reasons for employment gaps on a resume, e.g., taking a sabbatical, raising a family, making a career shift. Rather than attempting to conceal such information, think about how you can both set your reader’s expectations and focus on the positive. A summary statement can often be a good place to do this. For example: “Experienced child psychologist returning to the workforce after a four year sabbatical to raise a family” or “Self-starter with a proven ability to hit the ground running, developed through a series of contract positions in varied industries.”
Does it matter what I name my resume file? How should I format it? Yes, file name matters! If the employer has specified a particular name, be sure to follow their instructions. When emailing your document, include your first initial and last name in the title of the document. For example, JBarnum_NameofPosition. Email your resume and cover letter as one attachment with your cover letter as page 1 and resume as page 2. Unless the employer requests otherwise, we recommend converting to .pdf format so the appearance and layout won’t alter depending on what type of program the employer uses to view it.
What are some best practices for emailing my resume to an employer? When creating an appropriate subject line for your email, use your name and the position to which you’re applying. For example: Research Assistant application from J. Barnum. Include a short note in your email message to briefly introduce yourself, list the position to which you are applying, and indicate that you have attached your application to the email and look forward to connecting with the employer to discuss your skills and experiences.
Should I always include a cover letter with my resume? Even if it isn’t requested, it’s always a good idea to send a letter. You’ll be able to tailor your application to an individual organization/position and stand out from the crowd.
What is an HR rep looking for in a strong resume? In a 2012 study, The Ladders found that readers spend an average of 6 seconds looking at a resume to make a yes/no decision. In those 6 seconds, recruiters spent almost 80% of their resume review time on the following data points: Name, Current position/employer, Previous position/employer, Previous position start and end dates, Current position start and end dates, and Education. Beyond that, recruiters scanned for keywords to match the open position. With this in mind, you can survive the human scan by Survive keeping your resume to a single, easily skimmable page. Check with an Alumni Career Services Advisor about exceptions to the one-page rule. Pay attention to keywords from the job description and think about how you could incorporate these words into your document.
I’ve heard that many organizations use an ATS (applicant tracking system) to screen resumes. What are some best practices for making it past this stage? These systems use keywords and algorithms to screen resumes and make a first cut before the documents reach human eyes. Here are a few ways to beat the machines:
Pay close attention to the job description and use the employer’s lingo. This isn’t a word-for-word repetition of the description; rather, you’ll take note of various keywords and incorporate those items into your document. Pasting a job description into a site like wordclouds.com can help you quickly zero in on important elements of a position by identifying frequently used words. That said, don’t go overboard by cramming in too many instances of a particular word. Aim for 2-3 mentions at most.
Focus on concrete skills. Soft skills like communication and attention to detail are wonderful, but the ATS is generally seeking industry-specific hard skills, relevant position titles and other credentials that mesh with the job description. Use a Summary of Qualifications section in lieu of an Objective statement to convey your strongest competencies at the top of your resume.
Keep the formatting simple. Steer clear of abbreviations, logos, graphics, headers/footers and any fancy formatting. Spell out any acronyms and use a standard resume font, e.g., Arial, Calibri.
- I’m changing careers. How should I structure my resume when my past jobs don’t match my current focus? Think about which of your transferable skills mesh with the new position. Use this worksheet to help you reflect. What are the key skills required? How have you used them in the past? Rather than talk about all your past skills and experiences, focus this resume only on the relevant info.
Some of the following sites offer fee-based services. We are not endorsing or recommending these fee-based services, however, we do recommend that you review their sample resumes.