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Resume - Frequently Asked Questions

Why do I need a resume?

The purpose of a resume is to stimulate the interest of a potential employer enough to want to interview you. Resumes provide a brief overview of your skills and experience and demonstrate your aptitude for the job you are applying for. You might use a resume at job fairs and informational interviews, to answer job ads, to accompany a request for a letter of recommendation, and as part of a graduate school application.

Do I need an objective on my resume?

It is a good idea to include an objective on your resume so that a potential employer is clear about what you are looking for from the beginning. It's not required, but an objective is useful for focusing the resume and the reader. Employers often say that they prefer resumes with objectives and they want them to be fairly specific. Not only do they not have time to try to figure out which of their many positions you might fit into; they also prefer to know what you are really interested in. See sample resumes (PDF) in the Job & Internship Guide.

What's the difference between a resume and a curriculum vitae?

A curriculum vitae (CV) is an academic resume and is used for research and college/university teaching positions. A resume is brief - usually one page - and focuses on work experience. A CV can be as long as it takes to state one's qualifications, publications, papers presented, etc. Sometimes people ask for a CV when they really want a resume. Be sure to check with the person requesting it to be certain you are using the correct version for that position.

Can a resume be more than one page?

Yes, a resume can be more than one page, but it shouldn't be unless you have extensive experience related to your job objective. Most resumes for college students and recent graduates should fit onto one page if you clearly and concisely describe your experiences.

What's the best format: chronological or skills/functional?

There is no "best" format for all resumes--it depends on what you have done and what you are trying to accomplish. Usually, if you are applying to a more conservative industry (e.g. banking) or continuing along a prescribed career path in which you have gained some experience (engineering, for example), you'll want to use a chronological resume. A skills/functional resume works well if you have little work experience, are entering a career that is very different from your educational path, or are changing careers.

For samples, see the Resume & Letter Writing (PDF) section of the Job & Internship Guide.

Should I include jobs I've had that don't relate to the job I'm seeking?

Your resume should include sufficient experience to demonstrate your ability to do the job that you are applying for and to show yourself as a person with experience in the working world. Directly related experience is considered most valuable, but unrelated jobs can also help you to show that you have acquired necessary skills. If you are unsure which jobs to include, make an appointment with a Career Counselor.

Should I include my volunteer experience on my resume?

Yes! Volunteer work allows you to acquire hands on experience and develop skills in the same way that paid positions do. Future employers want to see that you have developed skills and demonstrated them in a working environment. It is not important that you were paid for your work, only that you can do it. Volunteer positions do not need to be designated as "volunteer" nor do they need to be listed separately. Using the title "Experience" allows you to highlight your important work without minimizing those that were unpaid.

Do I include personal information, such as interests and hobbies?

Placing your interests and hobbies on your resume can help an employer get an idea about who you are as an individual. However, this is not an essential part of most resumes and is one of the first sections to be removed if you run out of room. Most important are activities in which you were actively involved that allowed you to develop and demonstrate transferable skills such as leadership, event organization, or financial management. Be specific about what you did while participating in these activities and avoid a "laundry list" of organizations. In this way your hobbies and interests are often revealed through your activities along with the valuable skills you developed.

Must I include my GPA on my resume?

As a student or recent graduate your academic achievement will be one of your most important assets. The basic rule of thumb is "if you've got it, flaunt it;" it is appropriate to include your GPA on your resume if it is 3.0 or above.

How should I email my resume?

Employers who request that you submit your resume by email will often specify the format in which it should be submitted. If not, it is a good idea to include your resume both as an attachment and in the body of the email text.

For more details, see the Resume & Letter Writing (PDF) section of the Job & Internship Guide.

How can I get more help with my resume?

The Career Center offers several different resources to assist with creating or updating your resume. You can have your resume reviewed during a Mini-Appointment, make an appointment with a counselor, or have an employer critique your resume.

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This page last updated 8/26/2011 (jw)