Impressive Résumés

Your résumé is a one-page advertisement of why an employer should hire you. The goal is not to simply summarize yourself, but to sell a product – you! Here are some tips for crafting the perfect résumé:

  • Start with our worksheet to organize your thoughts
  • Go through our checklist to help you with content and formatting; refer to sample résumés, if necessary
  • Use action verbs to give your résumé punch
  • Spend time preparing your résumé and have it reviewed by several different people; take advantage of résumé critiques from both BCS advisors and employers and be sure to check Handshake for related workshops


Common Résumé Mistakes


Typos and Grammatical Errors. Your résumé needs to be grammatically perfect. If you would make a mistake on your résumé, you’ll probably make a lot more mistakes on the job. It’s easy to miss your own typos. Use spell check, but remember it won’t catch every error. Ask friends or an advisor from BCS to proofread your résumé.

Highlighting Duties Instead of Accomplishments. It’s easy to slip into a mode where you simply start listing job duties on your résumé. Employers, however, don’t care so much about what you’ve done as what you’ve accomplished in your various activities. Be specific, and quantify accomplishments when you can.

Omitting Grade Point Average. Generally speaking all undergraduates’ résumés should include a grade point average whether it is a cumulative or a major grade point average (select the highest grade point average of the two). Typically recruiters prefer a minimum grade point average of 3.0 out of 4.0. For some recruiters, your grade point average may show how hard-working you are, while others may see it as an indicator of your intelligence, motivation, and ability to set goals.

Attempting One-Size-Fits-All. Whenever you try to develop a one-size-fits-all résumé to send to all employers, you almost always end up with something employers will toss in the recycle bin. Employers want you to write a résumé specifically for their organization. They expect you to clearly show how and why you fit the position in a specific organization.

Including Inappropriate Information. American résumés never include the applicant’s photograph, date of birth, birthplace, marital status, or information about other family members. In the business world it is not advisable to include information that reveals an applicant’s personal beliefs. Names of references are also not included on a résumé.

Leaving Off Important Information. You may be tempted, for example, to eliminate mention of the jobs you’ve taken to earn extra money for school. Typically, however, the soft skills you’ve gained from these experiences (e.g., work ethic, time management) are more important to employers than you might think.

Going on Too Long or Cutting Things Too Short. You don’t need complete sentences in your résumé. Concise, understandable, phrases are sufficient. At the same time, don’t undersell yourself by writing the bare minimum.

Visually Too Busy. Keep the layout simple and clean. Avoid too many layers of indentation. Use one font size for the document; only make your name larger. Don’t mix font types. Many recruiters look at hundreds of résumés a day – don’t give them a reason to pass over yours because it’s hard to read.

Unique Layouts. The best way to stand out in a crowd is with high quality content that is a clearly written, neat, error-free document. For business jobs, employers are not looking for fancy content or a dangerously creative layout.