How to Write a Resume

What does a resume need to include?

Your name and contact information

  • Name, phone number, email, and address centered or left-aligned at the top of the page
  • Make sure your email address and the voicemail on your phone are professional

Education

  • Name of university, degree, major(s)/minor(s), expected graduation date
  • Only include GPA if required by the organization, or if it is exceptional

Relevant Work Experience (Paid, Volunteer, Internship)

  • Job title, company name, location of position (city, state), dates of experience (month/year -- month/year), job duties, skills demonstrated in position, accomplishments

What if I have more space?

Skills/Abilities

  • Pick only things that are relevant to the employer, i.e. languages, computer skills, lab experience, etc.
  • Note: Microsoft Office knowledge is expected. Only include it on your resume if the position description requests it. Otherwise, stick to computer programs that are not Office.
  • Note: Separate skills into logical groupings, such as "Computer Skills" and "Laboratory Skills". List only concrete skills, not vague character traits, such as “hard-working” or “team-player”.
    • Character traits need proof, which the internship coordinator will pick up automatically from your job descriptions.
    • Having an entire section listing character traits does not tell the person anything about you, and it just takes up space on your resume.

Relevant Coursework/Projects

  • Only include classes or projects that have a relevant bearing to the internship
  • List courses by name, not by number
    • If the title of the course doesn’t accurately describe what you learned in the class, you can create a new title that briefly summarizes the content, i.e. “The Circle of Life” could become “Intro to Biology”.

Honors and Awards

  • List relevant honors or awards with a brief description

Research Publications

  • Project title, where it was published, and when

Certifications/Licenses

  • List only if applicable

Helpful Hints

  • Avoid adding high school information (the only exception is if it is extremely relevant)
  • Aim to restrict your resume to one page. You may go to two pages only if all information is pertinent to the internship you are applying for.
    • If you only have a few lines on a second page, make cuts so all information fits on one.
  • Use a professional font (Times New Roman, Calibri, Helvetica, Garamond, etc.) in size 12 
  • Forget the “Character Traits” section. It doesn’t tell the employer anything about you, so focus more on your experiences.
  • Bullet points make it easier for the employer to read your resume.
    • Writing in paragraphs may cause the employer to skim and miss important information.
  • Try using a table to help with formating and editing. Here is a sample and explanation on how to create and format your resume with a table.
  • Prioritize the skills and experiences that fit into the internship position.
  • Use strong action verbs to describe your experience and skills.
  • Be sure to proofread! Send us your resume to edit before you send it out.
    • We are the best resource to discover what kinds of resumes are successful in Washington, D.C.

How to Elaborate on Your Skillset

  • The point of expanding on your experiences is to explain the skills you learned and used. The more detail you can add, the more likely you are to catch the internship coordinator’s attention.
    • Many people fall into the trap of writing standard 2-4 word descriptions such as “Wrote reports” or “Dealt with customers,” which will be passed over by the person reading your resume, when often they were very significant portions of your position.
  • Focus on addressing these areas in your bullet points:
    • Who – Who did your job help? (The company? Clients? Customers?) Who did you work with? (Colleagues, Executives?)
    • What – What happened with the results of the job? If you did research, was it published? If you had to do a report, what was done with that information?
    • When – When did this happen? Daily, weekly, monthly? Talking about how often you did something is an easy way to show productivity in your job.
    • Where –Where did your duties occur? Were you responsible for interacting with people outside your organization? Did you have to travel?
    • Why & How – Why did you do this? Why was this skill/task important? How did your job duties help or add to the organization’s ability to function?
  • Start each bullet point with an action word that sums up your accomplishments
  • Quantify your experiences if possible. For example, “Increased sales by 10% in 3 months” is more impactful than “Increased sales.”
    • Even if you can’t list quantities, always describe your achievements and how you achieved them, i.e. “Exceeded sales quota every week by providing excellent customer service and anticipating customer needs.”