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Tips for an Effective Resume

Keep in mind that there are several good ways to write and format a resume. Below are some general tips to help you create an effective resume that will be attractive to read. Be sure to start out with a new document. (Avoid using templates from word processing programs)

When laying out your resume, place the most important information on the left side of the page and close to the top, as you want to draw the reader's attention to the most relevant information. For example, when you worked is not as critical as where, so list employment dates on the right side.

Margins & Font

When starting with your first draft, start with 1” margins to provide room for details. Overall, your margins can be anywhere from 1/2" to 1" on all sides.  Adjust margins so your text is centered on the paper. Use one font size throughout your resume. The size can be between 10-12 point, and your name can be 14-18 point.  Choose easy-to-read fonts, such as Times New Roman, Arial, Garamond, or Helvetica.


While the Objective and Education sections will generally appear first, the rest of your sections should follow in order of importance in relation to the Objective. Consider the readability of your resume: Do sections progress logically from one to the next? Do your degree(s), school(s), titles, companies/organizations, and skills stand out easily?


Utilize highlighting techniques (bold, underline, italics, capitalization) to call the reader's attention to important areas on your resume. Make sure you use them sparingly and consistently.  Before you add any highlighting techniques, read through the resume first and see what needs to stand out.


Proofread several times, errors and misspellings create a poor impression. Use the spell check, but don't rely on it to catch grammatical errors, such as the incorrect use of "there" and "their."  Have others proofread your resume and get it critiqued at Career Services.  Ensure that all of your contact information is current and correct.


For undergraduates, limit length to one page. Be concise.  Try to take up as much white space on the paper without overcrowding.

Graduate students can move into a two or more page format. If you have more than one page, ensure that each additional page has at least your last name and page number at the top or bottom corner, in case the pages are separated once they reach the employer.