How to Write a Resume + Sample Resume (Student & Post-Grad)


Knowing how to write and design a resume is crucial. It can be what dictates if your resume is going to be read for your chance at a position or just automatically tossed in the bin. Why? Because a resume shows a lot about you. For one, you HAVE to include a cover letter. Even if you're looking for a part-time job, including a cover letter can be what gets you an interview before everyone else who applied. I created this post with tips on how to create a proper cover letter, including a downloadable cover letter. But, once you've got a cover letter, you must show you're qualified on the resume as well.


First thing first, my business writing instructor once told me to never use a template. Especially not from Word, Pages, or any other major writing source. Some job positions acquire dozens if not hundreds of applicants, imagine how many have used the exact same template that you're about to use. So how should you do it?


Design

I have included my own downloadable resume found here. I created this myself so you can be sure that it is original. With that said, feel free to customize it. Your resume should always look clean and even better, reflect the position you're applying and your own personality. If you're going into a creative field, feel free to use color and fun fonts. A safe bet is to stay away from Comic Sans font regardless of what industry you're going into... but otherwise have fun with it. When I was applying for a social media intern position, I used a QR code at the top of my page which brought them to my website. If you want to use this idea, feel free to link the QR code to your LinkedIn or a digital portfolio, just search up QR code maker and you'll find a link. I also used little graphics beside each section of the resume since graphics are a big part of the social media/marketing world. Think about what is relevant to your own job. It does not have to be anything crazy. It should be a smart thing to note that you're cover letter and resume should look fairly similar in design.


Format

The next thing that is important, your formatting. Stick to the same font/font size scheme throughout your entire resume. The countless times I have looked over resumes and there will be 4 types of fonts and a change in size halfway through a sentence is crazy. A good idea is to have 1-2 fonts, 2-3 font sizes, and maybe choose if you want your emphasis to be shown in bold or underline. Nothing more. Never go below size 10 and try to stay between sizes 10-12. Think of it like this. The headers can be all one size and font, subheaders potentially the same font and a size smaller, and the body a different font and either the same size as or a size smaller than the subheader. That's generally a good rule of thumb. Still confused? Check out the cover letter example I have for you. The next thing to note is that your resume should NEVER be more than a page unless you're submitting a CV (which is generally only if you've spent years in an industry and you're switching jobs), and never two columns. If you can't fit it all on two pages, you've either added way too much space between lines (ie. double spacing), you've added too many details to each job, or you've simply added too much irrelevant or old experience.


Information

Experience Order

So you've understood how to format your design and you've got an idea of how you want your resume to look, great. Now how do you actually write your resume? This shouldn't be too hard. Start with your name and contact information just like on your cover letter. This is great in case your cover letter and resume get separated for some reason. Next up, keep your experience from most recent to older, while ensuring that the most relevant is up top. What I mean is, say you're applying for a photographer position and your experience is freelancing while working at a fast-food chain, and before this you were a photographer intern. Place the freelance and intern on top as this is the most relevant and then fast food last (along with any other irrelevant positions and experience you have). Make sure to write from when to when you were at the position - up to you if you want month and year or just year to year. Also remember that when you include relevant tasks for each position held, keep the number of points the same throughout the entire resume, and each relevant task will likely vary each time you apply somewhere.


Students

If you're a student, insert your school, major, along with any relevant classes (and relevant clubs) at the top of your resume. Unlike the job experience section where you state when you started and ended the job, as a student, you only need to state when you anticipate graduating if this is where you plan to graduate from, whether you spent all your years here or transferred. If you did transfer from another school, your formatting will be the most recent school first and the year (ie. May 2020). Then you will list the school you transferred from with say Fall 2017 - Spring 2019. The last thing in this student section is if you studied abroad or joined a recognizable and important program, use another line. This type of experience is special and should stand alone, regardless if it was a full semester or just over winter break. If you're in college, only keep your high school listed if your experience is very limited and you had relevant classes or clubs.


Content Goals / Post-Grad

If you have a lot of experience, then you're A) lucky, but B) will have to narrow you're experiencing down. I found the best way is to keep the last few lines dedicated to older or irrelevant experience (following the most recent to oldest order). As you acquire more experience start knocking down the irrelevant experience and then the older ones until you hopefully over time have a resume that is filled with only relevant experience.


The last thing I will say is referring to when to start eliminating your college experience. For most, your college can remain listed post-graduation with relevant course work for 5-8 years post-graduation. After this, it will no longer be at the top of your resume. It will be part of your experience. In this circumstance, only list your major and any awards and clubs you were part of. These can remain on your resume for around 10-15 years post-graduation and after this, just list the college and major.


Feel ready to start your resume yet? Great! I wish you luck. If you're still a little unsure, check out the downloadable resumes for students/recent grads or the version for post-grad. If you're still confused, feel free to shoot me a message, I'd love to answer any questions. I have also looked over resumes in the past for a small fee, so up to you! Try it on your own, use a sample, ask me questions, or have me look it over.


However you want to do it, I wish you luck on your next interview.

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