UW-L Career ServicesResume Writing Tips & Examples

Resumes Examples Resume Self-Critique Checklist (.pdf)
  Writing Federal KSA Worksheet (.pdf)

Resume info in this page...
Basic Guidelines Related Course Work
Content Suggestions Projects/Research Experience
Identification Information Skills Summary
Job Objective Experience
Education Involvement & Activities
International Experience References

A resume is a summary of your educational background, employment, internship, student teaching, research projects, volunteer experience, and special skills. It should communicate the potential you have to contribute successfully in a new work setting. The best resumes describe job tasks, skills, and concrete accomplishments accurately and honestly while still being succinct. Effective use of language is the key to conveying your marketable talents to employers. Depict your experience clearly, so they will understand exactly what you learned and what you’ll bring to the position.  Be clear and concise, avoid a narrative format. Employers review resumes very quickly. Make sure every word on your resume is important and contributes to your goal of obtaining an interview. Many businesses use electronic applicant tracking systems to store and retrieve resumes. This system uses a scanner to digitize a paper resume and store it inside a computer. A search retrieval program allows an employer to search thousands of resumes that might match a given search criteria.

As you prepare your resume, think about the impact it has upon the employer. If it is well done, it can communicate your competence and your interest in the position. Conversely, if it is disorganized or has mistakes, it can communicate a lack of willingness to do a job well.


  • Create an original document. Consider using Microsoft Word or Optimal Resume and avoid the use of  templates.
  • Make your resume neat and easy to read. Use a clear and crisp font.
  • Be consistent with the use of fonts and bullets to maintain uniformity throughout your resume.
  • Accent the positive. Emphasize your strengths and accomplishments.
  • Make certain your resume is current; do not send it with an outdated address or phone numbers.
  • Spell correctly, and make certain your grammar is proper.
  • Omit personal information such as weight, marital status, date of birth, and photograph.
  • Avoid excess narrative. Write in phrases, leading with action verbs. This eliminates the need to use personal pronouns, like "I" and "my".
  • Use dates in the employment and experience sections; however, avoid excessive use of dates in other categories.
  • Omit salary requirements. If a job announcement asks for salary requirements, include that information in your cover letter.
  • Length should be dictated by the amount of information you have to convey. Never try to crowd two pages of information on to one page. Have your resume critiqued by someone who can help you eliminate unnecessary information.
  • Please use e-mail addresses that convey a professional image.
  • Include a cover letter with your resume whether you are sending it by mail, email or faxing it to an employer. For more information, see Letter Writing on the Career Services Home Page.
  • As a rule, stay with conservative paper colors such as white, off-white, or gray. The same rule applies to the use of color with fonts. Remember resumes may need to be faxed or copied and the quality of the copy will diminish with colors.   Print only on one side of the paper and should be printed on a quality printer.


  • Be creative in developing your categories and the headings you give them. For example, you may wish to use "ACADEMIC BACKGROUND" instead of "EDUCATION", or "UNIVERSITY INVOLVEMENT" instead of "EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES."
  • Consider specialized categories such as "RESEARCH EXPERIENCE" and "PRESENTATIONS AND PUBLICATIONS" if appropriate to your situation or experience.
  • Category headings may be changed to meet your needs. 


  • Begin with your name as the heading, preferably in a larger font.
  • Include a complete present address and/or permanent address where you can be reached or a message can be left.
  • Place telephone number(s) and area code(s) below address(es).
  • For graduating seniors, use your personal email address. University email addresses may not be accessible after graduation.


  • To maintain flexibility, you may choose to omit an objective on your resume. If not included on your resume, your objective must be included in your cover letter.
  • Make certain your job objective will enhance your employability. Objectives, which are vague, will not tell an employer what kind of job you are seeking.
  • You may want to avoid using the term "entry level" in your objective. In some organizations, entry level positions may be at a lower level than you wish to work.
  • Keep your objective short. Typically, you should only address immediate plans in your objective. Not all employers will value your plans for graduate school or your interest in management. Also, your long range plans may change once you have been with an organization for a while.


  • Students from UW-La Crosse graduate in May, August, December and January. Even if you participate in the May graduation ceremony but take summer classes, August is your official graduation date. Your name will not appear on the official May graduation list. This is very important if an employer calls to verify your degree.
  • List your degree, month and year of graduation first, followed by the name of your institution and city and state and your major(s), minor and any special concentration or emphasis. Include your grade point average if you feel it is to your advantage. You can give your major or minor area grade point average if either is better than your overall grade point average, as long as you identify what it represents. Use an online GPA calculator to provide accurate information.
  • If you attended more than one institution, or received more than one degree, list the most recent school and degree first.
  • As a rule, omit high school information.
  • Academic honors or awards (dean's list, scholarships, honors graduate, etc.) may be included in this section or listed in a separate section labeled "HONORS AND AWARDS".  List the number of times you have received an honor (i.e. Dean’s List – 4 semesters).
  • Education graduates should include Wisconsin subject code number(s) and grade level(s) for education majors. Current certification numbers are available on the Wisconsin DPI web page.
  • If you helped defray more than 75% of college costs, you may wish to indicate the percentage of your education for which you are responsible.


  • Consider including all experiences such as study abroad, unique travel, and volunteer service programs.
  • Discuss what you studied, what you learned and where you traveled.


  • Include only certification information appropriate to your education or profession. Do not include certifications that are not related to your employment interests. 
  • Appropriate certifications might include CPR or Water Safety Instructor for a recreation position, or CPA for an accountancy position or medical related certifications or licensures. 
  • List only those that are current.


  • This section is typically used only on resumes of those students seeking internships, fieldwork, etc.  However, if you are graduating in biology, chemistry and microbiology you may wish to include course work on your resume and indicate which courses included a lab section.
  • List the course titles, not the course numbers, of the courses which are relevant to the type of experience you are seeking.
  • Identify the courses you are currently completing.


  • Employers are very interested in learning more about class projects and undergraduate research projects.
  • Discuss the project, your involvement and outcomes in a brief summary.
  • List the most important project first.


  • Utilize this section to outline special skills and knowledge that you will bring to the job. Examples might include laboratory skills, computer skills, foreign language skills, or photography skills.
  • Describe yourself according to your ability, using qualifying adjectives such as extensive knowledge in..., basic understanding of..., exposure to..., etc.
  • Use course descriptions from the university catalog to help describe knowledge gained in classes.


  • Consider categorizing and prioritizing your experiences using several headings such as Internship and Project Experience, Professional Experience, Fitness Experience, Sport Management Experience, Accounting Experience, Research Experience, Additional Employment Experience or Teaching Experience. Within headings, list most recent position first.
  • Introduce each position with job title, organization name, city, state, and dates of employment.
  • Describe your responsibilities and achievements, the skills you gained, and the impact you had in your work experiences. Highlight skills that are valuable to employers. List most important job responsibilities first.
  • Remember to include all positions from which you have gained meaningful experience; related to your.  Do not, however, describe obvious or commonly understood responsibilities of such positions.
  • If you choose to omit some positions, you may want to make a general statement such as: "Have held various other full (or part) time positions to finance college education."
  • Describe your skills and responsibilities with action verbs. When applicable, use adverbs such as effectively, successfully, or consistently. Use quantitative descriptions when possible. Such as "Increased membership by 50%...."
  • Discuss what you observed, learned, gained an understanding of or exposure to as a developing professional.
  • Employers want to know the dates of previous employment. You may, however, wish to de-emphasize dates by listing them after the city and state or after the description of each position.


  • List campus and community organizations, including athletics, if you have been an active member. 
  • Include offices held, committees, responsibilities, and results of projects and activities. This illustrates leadership qualities and time management skills. List significant offices held first.
  • You may want to list some of these items under other experience categories.
  • Consider the implications when listing politics, religious and other affiliations.
  • List personal interests, if relevant and/or appropriate. 


  • Professors, intern supervisors, and employers are usually considered the most significant references. Their names should not be used, however, until they have agreed to serve as your reference. Do not use relatives, and as a rule, do not use members of the clergy.
  • Discuss your qualifications with your references, provide them with a copy of your resume and request one of their business cards to obtain the correct information for your reference list.
  • List at least three and no more than five references. In most cases, references will be telephoned about your ability to serve in the new position.
  • There are several options for handling your references:
  • List names, titles, place of employment, business telephone numbers and email addresses of professionals who have agreed to serve as references, or
  • State that a list of references will be furnished upon request, or
  • For graduates who are certified and are seeking teaching positions:
    • List names, titles, schools, addresses, and telephone numbers (school and home) of professionals who have agreed to serve as references.
  • Inform your references how this information will appear on your resume.