|Resume Critiques and Workshops||Contents|
|Overview of Resume Writing||Sample Resumes|
|Preparation||FAQ: Special Considerations|
Career Services also offers workshops on resume and cover letter writing throughout the school year. To find a schedule, please see the undergraduate calendar. An online workshop (16 minutes narrated PowerPoint presentation) is also available here.
The resume as part of your job search
A well written, up-to-date and accurate resume is one of several invaluable tools at the core of a successful job search. The resume communicates your qualifications by summarizing your experience, education and skills, with the goal of eliciting an interview invitation or otherwise having a positive impact on its recipient. Your resume can be used to apply for advertised jobs, to send to employers you discover through research and networking, to submit for on-campus recruiting opportunities, to distribute while talking with recruiters at job fairs and employer information sessions, and to assist those who will provide you with a professional reference or recommendation by detailing your strengths. Your resume need not include everything you have ever done, but rather what is particularly salient to your desired career field. If your job search strategy is diverse and covers several careers or job types, you may wish to have several versions of your resume, with different levels of specificity in certain areas.
Maximizing a resume's potential for impact
Employers report that they spend only a few moments looking over a resume to determine if you are an appropriate candidate to interview, or that they use keyword search tools to identify if a resume is suited to the job description. Therefore, to effectively communicate your qualifications, be concise and well organized in your writing and include key terms for your field or industry, so that the resume is easily readable, visually pleasing and has the greatest potential to be found in a search.
While there are several traditional ways to organize information and key components you must include, the design of a resume is flexible. Regardless of format or style, the resume should be only one page in length for current students and recent graduates. (Alumni with advanced degrees or substantial work experience may lengthen their resumes.) To conform to a one page limit, you may adjust font styles, sizes and margins to accommodate your information, but be careful that the resume does not become too packed and cluttered.
Integrity in resume writing
Note that it is extremely important that you are completely truthful and honest when presenting information on your resume (and all other job search materials); employers will confirm your history with transcript and reference checks, typically just before making an offer. Further, Career Services will spot-check resumes and transcripts posted on PennLink for accuracy. Be aware that falsification of data on your resume is considered a violation of academic integrity, resulting in revocation of on-campus interviewing privileges and referral to the Office of Student Conduct.
To help you start the resume writing process, various resume workshops are held throughout the year. Career Services advisors also regularly provide walk-in hours or appointments throughout the academic year and summer months to review drafts of resumes and discuss job searches. Additionally, you are welcome to submit or " drop off" documents that you would like to have critiqued in your school-specific area of Career Services; counselors for each school may also accept emailed versions. Please allow at least two working days for each review.
Before writing your resume, review your educational and professional history. Make lists of all jobs held (paid and volunteer), schools attended, clubs joined, honors received, skills acquired, duties performed and any appropriate additional information. These lists will form the basis of the content of your resume, and will help you identify your accomplishments. Keep in mind that unlike a job application given to you by an employer, your resume does not need to include every single thing that you have done. You will have to make choices about what to include or exclude. In addition, as you narrow down your job search options and identify the skills in demand for the industries you are targeting, you will want to be sure to emphasize those on your resume.
Your resume MUST meet the requirements below:
- Official School Names
- College: College of Arts and Sciences (note: no undergraduate may list Annenberg as their school on their resume; however, Communication majors may list "Annenberg School coursework" on their resumes.)
- Engineering: School of Engineering & Applied Science
- Nursing: School of Nursing
- Wharton: The Wharton School (not Wharton School of Business)
- Degrees. Resumes MUST include your degree of study. Your degree(s) should be listed according to the guidelines below:
- College: All degrees are Bachelor of Arts. The College of Arts and Sciences does not award a Bachelor of Science degree.
- Engineering: Bachelor of Science in Engineering, Bachelor of Applied Science, Master of Science in Engineering, Master of Biotechnology, Master of Computer and Information Technology
- Nursing: Bachelor of Science in Nursing
- Wharton: Bachelor of Science in Economics (Note that in the past Wharton did award the Bachelor of Business Administration degree. Therefore, alumni should check their transcript to verify the correct degree.)
Transfer Students: Listing your previous institution and/or degree program is optional.
- Graduation Date. Resumes MUST include your graduation date. List your expected graduation date (month and year), for example "May 2017". Do not use" "Class of 2017" or inclusive dates (i.e. 2013-2017).
External Transfer Students: If you elect to list your former college/university, you may list dates of attendance for your time of enrollment, ex. Fall 2009 - Spring 2011.
- Majors/Concentrations. Students that are enrolled in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Engineering & Applied Science or the School of Nursing have majors. Students enrolled in The Wharton School have concentrations. (Wharton does not offer majors" in its curriculum). Only students matriculated in Wharton (dual degree or Wharton only students) should list a concentration. (Communication majors in the Communication and Commerce track should not list a Wharton concentration).
- Minors. The College of Arts and Sciences, School of Engineering and Applied Science and School of Nursing offer minors. The Wharton School does NOT offer minors. Note that the Actuarial Mathematics minor must be listed as a "University Minor."
If you choose to include your GPA on your resume, most employers prefer that you report your overall (cumulative) GPA, though you may additionally include your major or concentration GPA (or some other sub-group). If you list anything other than your cumulative GPA, you must list the number of courses that have been used to arrive at that GPA, for example: Major GPA: 3.63/4.00 (10 courses). If you include GPAs from one or more majors or concentrations, you MUST calculate GPAs separately for each major or concentration and list the number of courses included in each major or concentration GPA. Do NOT calculate one combined major or concentration GPA if you are pursuing multiple majors or concentrations.
*Please Note* Resumes that include a "major GPA" or "concentration GPA" (or other subset) without indicating the number of courses are NOT acceptable to be submitted for jobs and internships through On-Campus-Recruiting or additional listings in PennLink.
Your GPA MUST be listed exactly as it appears in Penn-In-Touch (with 2 decimal places, NOT rounded). The grades that are on your transcript are the grades used for the calculations.
Study Abroad Students: If you have your study abroad grades in writing, on your resume you may say: GPA 3.32 (including confirmed study abroad grades not yet recorded). But you MUST include the statement that your study abroad grades are not yet recorded in parentheses.
External Transfer Students: As indicated above, you may list all schools you have attended or just Penn. If you are just listing Penn (and opt to include your GPA), the above rules for listing your GPA apply. If you are listing the school(s) from which you transferred, you may include your GPA from that school (or those schools) or just your Penn GPA. However, if you wish to include a "Combined GPA" which accurately averages both your transfer and your Penn GPAs, you must list each of the schools you attended and the specific GPA at each.
You may notice some internships and jobs ask you to indicate your SAT scores on your resume. If you are a current student indicating your SAT scores on your resume, note that you will have three scores: Math, Critical Reading and Writing. Be sure to list all three scores individually. You may elect to include a composite SAT score in addition to (not in lieu of) indicating your scores on the Math, Critical Reading and Writing sections individually.
Do not approximate your SAT scores. If you cannot recall your exact test scores, contact the CollegeBoard at http://sat.collegeboard.com/contact to obtain your test scores. *Please note that your SAT scores may be checked and verified for their accuracy by Career Services staff.
You do not need to include SAT II, GRE, or TOEFL scores as they are typically not requested by employers.
You may include any courses you have completed or are currently enrolled in. If current coursework is listed, it must be clearly indicated as such (for example, "Current Coursework" or "Fall 2015 Semester Courses"). You must update your resume should there be any change in your GPA, courses, activities, or other information listed.
*Note that Career Services staff reserves the right to check your resume against your official transcript to verify all information. Students who are found to have falsified any information on their resume will lose their recruiting privileges, and may be subject to disciplinary action by the Office of Student Conduct, as this is considered a violation of academic integrity.
These policies are intended to eliminate confusion as to how you represent yourself. We understand and fully appreciate the pressure of a competitive job market and wish to protect you from those who would compete unfairly.
While there are many approaches you can take in presenting your experience, the two most common resume formats are reverse chronological and functional.
- Reverse Chronological: Most frequently used. It lists the most recent experiences first and preceding experiences in reverse chronological order. This format has the advantages of being easier to read and more familiar to employers.
- Functional: Emphasizes skills and capabilities instead of the timeline of a person's experience. Employers' names and dates of employment are de-emphasized. One drawback of this format is that it gives the impression of trying to conceal something (usually a gap in employment or a lack of related experience).
Choose a format which allows the most impressive presentation of your employment history (note that some students elect to create a combined resume format incorporating both reverse chronological and functional elements). Whatever the case, be sure to emphasize your key skills and accomplishments with the use of action verbs. Avoid beginning descriptions with or including phrases such as "responsible for," "duties included," or "responsibilities included" as these are passive and do not indicate your contribution or skill demonstrated - only what you were assigned to do. Whenever possible, try to quantify your achievements, as well as illustrate for your reader the nature and environment of your experience. Please see examples below and sample resumes for guidance.
Reverse Chronological Resume
The approach you take to listing your experiences on a reverse chronological resume will depend on what type of job you are seeking and the experiences you have had. It is most important that you are consistent and clear. For your work experiences, one general heading titled "Experience" may be appropriate. Alternately, breaking down your experience into sub-sections may be most effective. For example, if you are seeking a teaching job, and have both a teaching and business background, two separate headings, such as TEACHING EXPERIENCE and ADDITIONAL EXPERIENCE might have more impact than a single " EXPERIENCE" heading and will allow you to put a distinct focus on your teaching background regardless of the dates or order in which it was earned.
The typical reverse chronological resume includes the name of the company or organization for which you worked, the department or division (optional), the position you held (sometimes listed first if impressive), the location, and a description of the work including duties, projects and accomplishments. You can choose to list the above facts in the order that presents you in the most effective way. It is not necessary to list all positions previously held, as frequently having enough space for a one-page resume becomes an issue.
Example of Reverse Chronological Format
CITI, Investment Banking Analyst Intern, Technology Group, New York, NY (Summer 2015)
Developed numerous industry comps. Created retention rate model for a $39 million secondary equity offering. Analyzed prospective takeover opportunities using purchase-pooling models. Researched and valued approximately twenty M&A deals from SEC documents for proprietary database. Prepared numerous IPO pitch books. Rebuilt equity comp model.
SOL C. SNIDER ENTREPRENEURIAL CENTER, Research Assistant, Philadelphia, PA (Fall 2014 - Present)
Systematize and coordinate sale of International Trade Directory to members of the Wharton Export Network and selected multinational companies.
RBK FINANCIAL SERVICES, Sales Assistant, Mt. Holly, NJ (Summer 2014)
Focused on client accounts totaling $150 million. Provided bid-ask equity spreads. Transferred fed funds. Purchased cash funds. Researched historical trades. Reconciled monthly statements with online balances. Handled all written client correspondence.
MARRIOTT HOTELS, RESORTS & SUITES, Hospitality Specialist, Hilton Head Island, SC (Summer 2013)
Assisted in set-ups for annual conventions. Greeted hotel guests upon arrival. Facilitated hotel check-ins. Provided detailed information about island activities and restaurants to inquiring guests.
Your approach will be somewhat different for the functional resume. You may decide when you are considering a career direction that is not specifically related to your past job titles that you want to organize your experiences around skills you have developed. For example, if you are seeking a management trainee position you might want to describe your management, programming, and supervisory skills separately from the discrete positions at which you actually used them, and then merely list positions later in the document without descriptive passages. Since most employers want to know what your responsibilities were for each position, functional resumes may not be as effective as reverse chronological, but again, choose the style which best suits your experience and direction.
Example of a Functional Resume
Administration. Supervised catering staff of 30 for university-related and corporate programs on campus. Evaluated programs and personnel. Developed and maintained budget of $500,000.
Program Development. Developed new programs for international students. Arranged conferences, assisted in the development of budget, and designed publicity for numerous activities and cultural events.
Communications. Wrote successful grant proposal for student group. Organized and delivered special lectures and programs on issues affecting international students to university and community groups. Prepared and conducted personnel training sessions.
Student Manager. Catering Department, University Dining Services, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA (September 2015 - Present)
Student Program Coordinator. International House, Philadelphia, PA (January 2013 - May 2014)
Assistant Manager. Mainline Antiques, Bryn Mawr, PA (Summers 2014 and 2015)
Be sure to include your name, email, address(es), and phone number(s). Contact information can be centered or in left or right corners. If appropriate, include both a current address and a permanent address along with your email address. Students with an academic year address and a summer address can include both or use just the address at which they are residing when submitting applications for internships or jobs. If space is a problem, you may want to put all your identifying information on one line across the page. There is no need to include the word" "resume" at the top, as this is obvious. Be sure to regularly update your contact information on your resume, as it is vital that employers are able to reach you and you are able to respond to any messages left for you. If you cannot be reached during certain business hours, be sure to check your phone and email messages periodically. If applicable, you may want to add a work phone number where you can be reached during the day. Only include your cell phone number if you want to be accessible at all times. (Beware! We have heard stories of students being contacted by employers late in the evening and on weekends.)
The objective (sometimes called Professional Objective, "Job Objective," "Career Objective" or Career Goal) is typically placed after your contact information. Although brief, the objective serves as a "headline" or thesis statement for the rest of your resume and is intended to provide your reader with some idea of your interests and career plans as they relate to the position. The objective may also outline the skills you have developed and wish to use in your position. An advantage to including an objective is that it lets the reader know "up front" what type of position or experience you are seeking. It may be particularly useful if you have made a career change and your past experience does not reflect your current interests. An objective statement can also be useful if you are distributing your resume through personal connections as opposed to submitting your resume for a specific opening. To be most effective, the objective statement must be specific. If you have several unrelated or very diverse career interests and wish to include objective statements, you are encouraged to write more than one resume with varying objective statements. A disadvantage of an objective is that it may limit the opportunities for which an employer would consider you, or may not exactly match what an employer is seeking and therefore derail your candidacy. Note that it's better to omit an objective than to use vague, empty phrases like the following:
- "To obtain a managerial position that will combine responsibility and challenge."
- "An exciting and challenging position leading to management."
Samples of effective objectives include the following:
- To obtain a position drawing on strong analytical, communication, and marketing skills. Specific areas of interest are Advertising and Product/Brand Management.
- A financial analyst position at an investment bank. Strong interest in mergers and acquisitions.
- A position as a high school math teacher at an independent school.
- Employment in the field of Human Resources Management, with special interest in a health care or pharmaceutical environment.
- To apply bioengineering techniques to the design, construction, and testing of medical devices.
- To be a contributing member of a research team in the field of chemical engineering.
- To collaborate on the design or manufacturing of solid-state electronic circuits.
- To work with the design and development of new computer systems with a special interest in microprocessor applications and computer design.
Samples of effective summer internship objectives include the following:
- To obtain a summer internship in a marketing environment, utilizing acquired skills in research and product planning.
- Seeking a summer analyst position in private wealth management at an investment bank.
If you are interested in one type of job but two different industries, you may use an objective like this:
- A position in process engineering in the energy or chemical industry.
Qualifications Statement/Summary of Qualifications/Profile (optional, but not in lieu of a cover letter)
This category allows you to summarize the outstanding features of your background that are pertinent to the job(s) you are seeking. A well written qualifications section can direct the reader to what you want her/him to know, and provide clues about what to focus on. This kind of statement is generally used by professionals with quite a bit of experience. If you are a current student or recent graduate and have less experience, your qualifications will be obvious from your descriptions of your previous positions and you do not need to add this section to your resume..
- As with the job objective, your qualifications statement must make sense to the reader, and be as specific as possible. For example, a phrase like, "Outstanding background and clinical training in pediatric, geriatric, and oncological nursing, counseling, management, budgeting, German, and Spanish," even if true is so hard to believe that it would be discounted.
- An example of a good qualification statement reads as follows: "Experienced critical care practitioner and educator with recent work in long-term management of cardiovascular patients. Additional background in administration and supervision." or "Strong clinical background in individual and family therapy in both inpatient and outpatient settings. Track record as effective leader and consultant. Able to utilize systems approach in problem solving."
- To prepare an effective qualifications statement you must think carefully about what exactly you can offer an employer.
Education (you may also include Honors, Awards and Activities in this section if desired)
The education section of your resume will focus on your academic background. Thus, the education section is very important for most current students and recent college graduates and should be emphasized by candidates with little work experience. Well-planned development of this area on your resume may answer a prospective employer's frequently asked questions regarding your academic program and performance, leadership/managerial capabilities, technical abilities, interests and general preparedness.
Your educational history should be listed in reverse chronological order, beginning with your most recent or current degree program(s). Include the name of your institution, degree(s) received, major(s)/concentration(s), and date of graduation (month and year). When listing dates, it is not necessary to list the years you attended the school, it is only necessary to list the date (month and year) you received (or will receive) your degree.
Freshman and sophomores may list high school, summer programs or other institutions attended before starting their post-secondary education. Juniors and seniors should be very selective about what information they include from high school (if any). Some juniors and seniors may want to include high school to emphasize distinctions bestowed, class rank, activities, leadership profiles, or unique educational experiences that have not been replicated in college. Another reason for keeping high school on your resume is if you are looking to move back to the same geographic area where you attended high school and want employers to know that you are familiar with and comfortable in the area. If limited space is an issue, or your resume becomes cluttered, high school information is usually one of the first categories to omit.
Include your GPA if it is 3.00 or above. All GPAs should be listed with 2 decimal places to reflect the GPA listed on your transcript in Penn-in-Touch. Check the accuracy of your GPA every term and do NOT round your GPA. You can list your GPA in your major(s) or concentration(s), provided you list the number of courses you've used to determine the GPA (i.e. History Major GPA: 3.52 (8 courses), Cumulative GPA: 3.22). Although grades are important, they are not the only aspect of your background that should be highlighted. For example, a semester or year of study abroad represents a unique experience to potential employers and should be included.
Commonly known honors (such as Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Theta Tau) need no explanation, but lesser or unknown awards can be explained briefly. For example, "Eta Pi Upsilon, Women's Honorary Society." Be sure to include additional scholarships, fellowships, grants, special awards and recognition.
Education, activities, honors and awards sections can be combined or separated, as you prefer. What is crucial is that all information be easy to find on the page (see resume samples for different styles of presentation). For both activities and honors, you may want to list entries as subheadings of the college or university where you did or received them. If you prefer to highlight them in a separate section be sure that the information is clearly organized and strong enough to stand on its own.
It is essential that you emphasize educational experiences which illustrate your ability to handle the position you are seeking. Employers look for the well-rounded candidate as demonstrated by involvement in extracurricular activities, leadership positions, internships, and research projects. Pertinent graduate-level or honors courses might be stressed. You may also want to list the title of your thesis (if any), research interests, independent study, or senior project relevant course work. Often nurses include senior leadership and significant clinical rotations or practicums in this section, but they can also be presented in more detail in the Experience section.
External Transfer Students:
If you transferred from another college or university, it is only necessary to list the school from which you will receive your degree, unless there is a reason to include the other school (i.e., you were very involved in extracurricular activities and want to include them). If so, you may include length of time you attended the college/university, as well as relevant courses, honors and activities. If you are listing the school(s) from which you transferred, you may include your GPA from that school (or those schools) or just your Penn GPA. However, if you wish to include a " Combined GPA" which accurately averages both your transfer and your Penn GPAs, you must list each of the schools you attended and the specific GPA at each.
The work experience category may be titled "Experience," "Work Experience," "Professional Experience," "Electrical Engineering Experience" or whatever best highlights your qualifications. No matter what you have done, whether it was working in retail sales at Macy's, volunteering at a shelter, performing military duty, or working in new product development at Google, employers want to know that you have work experience. Many students are hesitant to put down summer jobs (not considered internships), part-time employment, work-study positions, volunteer experiences, or a responsible college activity that may seem unrelated to their career objectives. This is a mistake. Employers realize that some college students do not have relevant or career-related work experience, but are still very interested to know that you have had responsibilities, been hired by other employers for positions, had diverse experiences and opportunities to demonstrate your skills.
While it is vital to brainstorm everything about your background in the preparation stage, it is equally important to then weed out unnecessary information and highlight what is relevant. For example, if you have prior summer work experience in sales, additional experience as a short-term volunteer at several hospitals and are looking for an full-time employment in nursing, you may not want to include every single position you have ever held. You can however, find creative ways to summarize previous experience and take up a minimal amount of space. In general, giving more detailed accounts about the most recent entries on your resume and summarized versions of experiences prior to that works well.
In deciding which experiences to include, choose those which demonstrate your most relevant skills and support your objective. If you are interested in a career in technical sales, for example, you need to show that you are people-oriented and persuasive with technical competence. This may be indicated in several ways such as participation on a sports team, election to student office, or work as a project coordinator. However, if you are seeking a career in market research then you must highlight your analytical and quantitative skills and interest. You might emphasize, for example, high academic achievement, related course work and research experience. A good way to determine what skills to highlight is to review job descriptions in your field that are of interest to you either now or later on in your career. Employers will indicate the skills and qualifications they are seeking, and those are the skills you should do your best to illustrate.
Your experience section need not be limited to paid experiences, but may also include volunteer or unpaid positions, independent research projects and community work.. It is possible to list your experience section before your education section, but this is typically done by a person who has some full-time work experience.
Try to describe your experience in an interesting way while maintaining brevity. You need not sacrifice clarifying details about important accomplishments, but be focused. The careful use of action verbs to describe what you have done (see the action verb below) has the effect of portraying you as a direct and action oriented individual. Ask yourself the question "What did I do?" to identify action verbs that will effectively describe your job responsibilities, or go through the list and use the examples to spur your thinking. Be sure to stress what you learned from what may be considered an otherwise routine or limited job, for example: "Obtained exposure to industrial human resource policies while shadowing the Office Coordinator."
Phrases such as "Responsibilities included (or duties included) referring patients to community resources" can be phrased more persuasively (and simply) by saying "Referred patients to community resources." Descriptions do not have to be phrased in full sentences. Ask yourself the question "What does this information contribute to my candidacy?" to determine which aspects of your past are important enough to include on your resume. Employers want to know why you're different than other candidates applying for the same role, so consider what has made you stand out in past experiences and be sure to include those details. Did you save the company money? Identify a new strategy for accomplishing a project? Streamline or otherwise create efficiency in a process? How did you add value, regardless of your rank within an organization?
Identify your accomplishments, achievements and successes in each of your positions and as a whole. Did you chair a fund-raising drive which raised more money that any year in the past? Were you invited by the Director of Medicine to join a hospital-wide task force? Did you develop materials on health care which have been adopted by the clinic in which you worked? If so, be specific about these achievements on the resume and quantify when possible! Even if the job you held is not directly relevant, it is likely that you learned skills (i.e., organizational, interpersonal, time management, etc.) which are completely relevant to the position you seek.
Extracurricular Activities/Leadership Experience
Employers look for the well-rounded candidate as demonstrated by involvement in extracurricular activities, leadership positions, and research projects. In this section, be sure to list the name of the organization, your role in the organization and any leadership positions held. Any involvement as part of a committee can also be included. Similar to the experience section, try to indicate accomplishments and your involvement as part of any club or activity. Try to also indicate your level of responsibility in leadership positions. Quantify your results or outcomes when possible. If you have been involved in one or more activities for several years or have assumed greater levels of responsibility as part of an organization, highlight that information. If you were very active in college and can write paragraphs about your extracurricular activities, you should concentrate on selecting only the most interesting or impressive ones to include.
Research Interests and Publications (optional)
Students may wish to present their research, related publications and presentations in separate sections. A description of each, in reverse chronological order, is most appropriate. Try to keep everything as brief and succinct as possible. You may want to mention your faculty advisor's name, if you think it would be helpful. Publications to which you contributed and are recognized should be listed in the appropriate bibliographic format for your field.
Community Service/Involvement (optional)
Employers are frequently interested in knowing what you have done besides your work experiences, or how you have become involved as a "citizen." Such things as volunteer work with Big Brothers/Big Sisters, charity or youth organizations, alumnae/i associations, etc. can help to make you stand out as exceptional.
Publications and Presentations (optional)
These can be two separate sections or can be combined depending upon the quantity of material you have. They should be listed in standard bibliographic form for your field. If you have many entries in these areas and are applying for teaching positions in academic institutions, you will probably need to write a curriculum vitae, or "CV." See our FAQs below for more information on writing CVs.
Professional Memberships (optional)
Just as "community service" shows that you are a good public citizen, listing professional memberships shows that you are an active professional citizen. In every profession, there are associations that encourage members to interact with each other and keep up with current developments in the field. It is highly advisable that you join at least one professional association (many have student chapters with reduced fees) while a student and maintain membership as a professional. If you have been active in any professional organization, (i.e., held leadership roles or participated in important committees) you might benefit by mentioning not only the organization but also your level of involvement on your resume.
You may want to include a section for skills or qualifications which enhance your prospects for employment. Technical and computer skills, special qualifications, foreign languages you can read or speak, and/or equipment that you can operate may be mentioned in this section.
Certifications can be listed as a separate category or included in your education section as a sub-heading. It must be clear to the reader in what state and field you are certified. When listing your licenses, you do not need to give your license numbers. It would be sufficient to say "Registered Nurse: Pennsylvania and New Jersey," or "MCSE Certified 2015." Before progressing too far in your job search, make certain you know what licenses and certifications are preferred or necessary to obtain employment in your field and location of choice. Begin the paper work early.
Additional Information (optional)
This is the section to include interesting miscellaneous information that employers may find intriguing but does not fit anywhere else. Some examples might include travel/living abroad, sports and personal interests. Be specific about your interests. A description such as: "Enjoy Chinese cooking, high-altitude mountain climbing and reading detective stories" is a lot more interesting than "Interests including cooking, mountain climbing, and reading." Some additional examples to consider including in this section are cultural or intellectual interests, artistic and musical abilities if not listed elsewhere. You may also want to include professional organizations, clubs, or associations to which you belong if not included elsewhere. Information such as physical dimensions (height, weight), age and marital status are not indicators of professional ability and should be omitted.
The additional information section may be an appropriate place to indicate your employment eligibility, citizenship or visa status. If you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, be sure to state such information if your name, background, or education would be likely to raise questions about your ability to accept long-term employment in the United States. If you are a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident, but have some information which would suggest that you are not a citizen of the U.S., it can be to your advantage to specify your citizenship on the resume.
References are NOT included on a resume, but rather as a separate document offered to employers when requested. It is not necessary to state "References available upon request" at the bottom of your resume. Keep in mind that employers will contact you for references, regardless of whether or not you state they are available.
Note that if you would like to keep written letters of reference, you can open a credentials file with Interfolio.
As these sample resumes show, there is not one particular way to format your resume. Below are just examples of what has worked for Penn students and alumni in the past. You can develop your own template or borrow ideas from the formats below. Note: We strongly discourage students from using Microsoft Word's resume template because many students have found it difficult to customize. Also, please consider a variety of resume formats / styles from the samples below. It is not necessary, for example, that Wharton juniors adhere to the Wharton junior sample below.
|CAS / Wharton|
|SEAS 1 |
|SEAS 2||Wharton 3|
|SEAS 3 ||Pre-Law|
|SEAS 4 (Submatriculant)|
|Wharton / CAS (LSM)|
FAQ: How do I create an electronic resume?
Whether you are uploading your resume to an employer's jobs system or submitting your resume by email, please be sure to convert your resume to a PDF first and label the PDF file with your name, e.g. Jane Doe Resume.
Many employers are accepting resumes through online applications and maintaining their own databases of applicants. However, sometimes you will not be able to attach a resume in .pdf or .doc format. To be effective when you copy and paste your resume into on online application form:
- Use a standard size font (10 to 14 point).
- Keep name, address, and phone numbers on separate lines so that they don't merge
- Use ALL CAPS to highlight or emphasize information.
- Keep the design simple. Use white space. Skip lines between sections (font size in these spaces can be smaller than 10pt font)
- Use keywords to describe your assets. Keywords would include, but not be limited to: degrees, majors, professional clubs, names of schools, licenses and certificates, dates (2013-2015) for time periods instead of text ("two years"), abilities, skills, and training. Use a variety of keywords to describe similar skills and experiences. When an employer searches by keyword your resume will have a wider list of words on which a search engine may hit.
- When using bullets, make sure to insert a space between each bullet and text so that the bullet doesn't interfere with a keyword search.
- Use:Templates, graphics, text boxes, Comic Sans or other unprofessional fonts.
- Cram information without appropriate spacing.
FAQ: Should I include my SAT/GRE/TOEFL scores on the resume?
SAT scores are appropriate to put on your resume ONLY IF you are applying for certain internships in the business industry (financial services or consulting) AND they would contribute positively to your application. Employers in those areas often look at SAT scores as one way to gauge your potential quantitative skills in particular. In the case of consulting, employers also appreciate strong verbal scores. It is NOT appropriate to include your SAT scores (even if they are fantastic) for other industries, and would be considered a bizarre inclusion for it is not a tool most fields use when evaluating candidates.
It is also NOT appropriate to include scores of other standardized tests such as the GRE, GMAT, or TOEFL.
FAQ: How should I indicate my GPA if I just returned from studying abroad and the grades I earned while abroad are not yet incorporated into my Penn-in-Touch transcript?
This is a difficult situation that many students face. Thankfully, many recruiters of college students know it is not uncommon for these grades to be posted late. If you are 100% certain of the grades you earned from abroad and have formal documentation to verify it, you can include them as follows. However, make sure the calculated GPA is correct AND that you indicate that the grades are not yet officially recorded.
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Candidate for Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, May 2016
Cumulative GPA 3.32 (including confirmed study abroad grades not yet recorded).
Study Abroad, University College of London, Spring 2015
If you are not sure of your study abroad grades or don't have proof of them, you could include your current Penn-in-Touch GPA and add an asterisk with the anticipated GPA, similar to the following.
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Candidate for Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, May 2016
Current Overall GPA 3.32/4.00*
*Awaiting approval of spring study abroad grades
Study Abroad, University College of London, Spring 2015
FAQ: How should transfer students indicate their education and GPA on the resume?
You may list all the schools you attended, or just Penn. If you are listing Penn only and opt to include your GPA, list your official Penn GPA as it appears in Penn-in-Touch. If you are listing the school(s) from which you transferred, you may include your GPA(s) from that school(s), or just your Penn GPA. However, if you wish to include a "Combined GPA" which accurately averages both your transfer and your Penn GPAs, then you must list each of the schools your attended and the specific GPA at each.
FAQ: How do I create a federal resume for government agencies that require them?
Some federal agencies require you to submit a federal resume when you apply for a job there. A federal resume is different from a professional resume. It contains much more detail and is usually over a page long. It is easy to create a federal resume on USAJobs, the government-run employment website.
FAQ: Do I need a different resume if I am applying for jobs abroad?
Yes. When applying for jobs outside of the U.S., particularly for non-American companies, you will be more successful if you submit a resume that conforms to that country's professional practices. GoinGlobal (available from our Online Subscriptions page - you will need a PennKey to log in) has Resume / CV Guidelines specific to each of the 33 countries profiled, complete with samples and details about preferences for margins and alignment.
FAQ: What is a Curriculum Vitae (CV)?
If you are applying for an academic-oriented position or employment in a research and development lab, you will probably want to prepare a curriculum vitae. For other positions, occasionally you may be asked to submit a "C.V." or" vita." There are several differences between a resume and a C.V., but in general a C.V. is longer and more detailed. A C.V. focuses more heavily on academic achievements and research interests/accomplishments. For example, your C.V. might elaborate on coursework, research, papers written, positions held, invited and professional presentations, service, and courses you are prepared to teach. What is being requested is essentially a (much) more detailed resume. Check with your career counselor if you have any questions about which is appropriate for a given situation.
For a more in depth review of C.V. preparation, refer to the Academic Job Search Handbook available in Career Services.
Layout is crucial to the impression your resume makes
Resumes are skimmed before they are read, so use indentations, capitalizations, spacing, boldfacing, italics, and underlining to make it easy for the reader to find all the pertinent information. Try to have the most important information "jump off the page" when readers take an initial glance at your resume. A good check for whether or not your resume is effective is to show the resume for 5 or 10 seconds to a friend and then ask them which points they remember, or what items they saw first. Below are additional tips on the presentation of resume.
- Undergraduate resumes should not exceed one page unless a candidate has many years of full-time work experience or is applying to an industry where multiple page resumes are acceptable
- Masters students or ExMSE candidates should try to keep to one page, although if even a concise presentation exceeds one page, it is acceptable to go to a second page. (However, for on-campus recruiting a one-page resume is recommended.) Be sure to list your name and contact information on the second page.
- Use one side of the page only.
- If you are printing the resume, select a good quality stock of paper, 8-1/2" x 11". If you use resume paper, be conservative in your choice of color: white, ivory or beige. Be sure to buy additional sheets for your cover letter, and matching envelopes too, to present a coordinated effort.
- Use conventional spelling, hyphenate and punctuate according to the dictionary or a good guide book on English usage.
- Use a standard size font (10 to 12 point).
- Use ALL CAPS or bold to highlight or emphasize information.
- Keep a reasonable margin around the resume. One inch is suggested.
- Avoid graphics.
- Do not cram information.
- While it is important to include dates in each section (i.e., when you received degrees, worked at particular jobs, etc.) they do not need to be the first thing read. This could mean including them on the right rather than the left side of the resume or incorporating them into position descriptions.
Use key words to describe your strongest qualifications
Key words would include, but are not limited to: degrees, majors, professional clubs, names of schools, licenses and certificates, dates (2010-2012) for time periods instead of text ("two years"), abilities, skills, and training. Use a variety of key words to describe similar skills and experiences. When an employer searches by keyword your resume will have a wider list of words on which a search engine may hit.
Use the samples offered as guides in preparing your resume
Make a draft of one or several resumes, and then make an appointment to review your document(s) with a career counselor in Career Services. You may also want to show a resume both to a person involved in the particular field to which you are applying, and to another person with no connection at all to that field. A variety of viewpoints will help you make more informed choices.
Omit personal information such as date of birth, marital status, social security number, height, weight, etc. This information does not reflect on your ability to perform the job for which you are being considered.
Below is a list of action verbs that you can use to describe your accomplishments, skills, and experiences on your resume.