Introduction to Resume Writing

A resumé is a summary of your qualifications for employment. It will typically let the reader know what type of position you are seeking and will highlight your education, experience, skills and other relevant information. The primary purpose of the resumé is to get you an interview. Resumés are also used as a marketing tool when conducting informational interviews and when networking.

Types of Resumes

There are basically three types of resumés:


This type of resumé is used most frequently. With this format, you present information in reverse chronological order (most recent first) and give a detailed account of education, work experiences and other skills.


This type of resumé includes functional skill categories that highlight work experiences and transferable skills. A functional resumé may be used if your experience and/or education do not support your professional objective. Many employers are suspicious when reviewing these resumés, as they may be used to hide gaps in employment or a lack of work experience.


This type of resumé includes functional skill categories that highlight work experiences and transferable skills within the reverse chronological listing of work history.

Appearance/Format - General Guidelines

Abbreviations and Pronouns

Avoid using abbreviations and personal pronouns (I, me, etc.).


Use indention, bolding, and bullets to enhance important information. Avoid using italics and underlining because some resumé scanners have difficulty interpreting this information.


Purchase large manila or white envelopes that allow you to mail your resumé and cover letter without folding them.

Font and Font Size

Use only one font. The font should be professional; when using Microsoft Word, it is suggested you use fonts such as Arial or Calibri. Font size for your resumé text should be no larger than 12 point and no smaller than 10 point. Font size for headings and subheadings may be slightly larger.


Make sure that your resumé is an honest and accurate account of your qualifications.


Use only black ink. Do not use colored inks.

Layout and Format

Select a resumé layout that is eye appealing and allows the employer to quickly retrieve information. Remember that the eye reads left to right, top to bottom; therefore, you should avoid centering subheadings. Try different formats to determine which one best highlights your skills and qualifications.


Limit your resumé to one page. If you have extensive, relevant experience (five or more years), your resumé may be two pages.


Set all margins (left, right, top and bottom) no smaller than ½ inch and no larger than 1 inch.


Print your resumé on quality bond paper. White or off-white paper is preferable. Avoid parchment-style, flecked or dark papers because they do not photocopy or scan well. To create a professional presentation, the cover letter and reference page should be printed on the same paper.

Personal Information

Do not include personal information such as age, height, weight, health status, marital status, number of children, military classification, etc. unless it is required for the specific position. Remember that this information may be necessary for certain career fields. If you are conducting an international job search, personal information may be required in some countries.


Do not incorporate personal photographs into your resumé unless it is necessary to obtain the position. For example, professional head shot photos are required when applying for acting positions.


Print your resumé using a laser printer for a sharp, clean look. Avoid lower quality dot matrix, ink jet or bubble jet printers.


Request that several people review and comment on your resumé. Re-write and edit your resumé until it is perfect.

White Space

Use white (blank) space effectively to make your resumé look professional and easier to read. Avoid filling the entire surface of the paper with information.

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