Resumes and Cover Letters

The Ultimate Guide To Writing A Professional Resume [FREE RESUME TEMPLATE]



The New Year brings new opportunities, especially if you're looking for full-time jobs and summer internships. Spring recruitment fairs are right around the corner, which means that it's officially crunch time. With all the time you'll probably spend practicing your pitch and figuring out what black suit combination will woo the recruiters, sprucing up your resume should take top priority.
Many of us have spent hours trying to edit, tweak and perfect our resumes only to realize that the head recruiter at your dream company glances at it for six seconds. Follow this guide to help you prioritize what's most important and write a killer resume.

GACP (Generally Accepted CAP Principles)

Before jumping right in, check out these rules of thumb I've learned during my time as a Career & Academic Peer Advisor for my university:


Your formatting helps a recruiter form their first impression of you so keep everything consistent! Make sure to use the same font sizes, otherwise your 12 pt font Education section will look awkward compared to your 10 pt font Campus Involvement section.


For numbers less than 12, spell the word and for numbers greater than 12, write the number. Regarding monetary numbers, anything over 999 should be written as 1K, 5M, etc. Here's an example: "Served as one of 25 marketing captains for the largest student-run philanthropy that raised over $2.6M for Children's Miracle Network"


It's recommended that dates should be in chronological order, with most recent at the top. Sometimes I might switch one of my job experiences to be at the top if it is more relevant to the position I am applying for. For example, I would switch my past Fortune 500 summer internship with my current startup internship because it will catch the recruiter's eye first and they're more likely to recognize the name as opposed to the startup.
Schools have different fall, spring and summer dates so be careful and don't assume that a recruiter knows what month correlates with "Spring 2016." That could be August, September or, if you're studying abroad, it could even be October. Additionally, it could look sloppy if your job and education section are in months but your involvement section is in semester terms.

Action Verb Tenses

So let's say you started working as a student assistant at your university and want to incorporate that into your job experiences section. Even though you're still currently employed, your action verbs should be in past tense. For instance, "Managed student requests, scheduled appointments and executed projects under four study abroad advisors"

Objective Statement

Personally, I'm not a fan and I think it takes up valuable real estate that I could use to showcase other transferable skills. However, if you want one, check out this guide.

Don't Lie, Over-Exaggerate or Steal Content From Others

Yes! You finally got the interview but now realize you over-exaggerated your internship and didn't emphasize your leadership position on campus enough. The recruiter wants to hear all about your experience with financial modeling in Excel but you suddenly realize you barely know how to work the filter function. Moral of the story? Just don't do it.

Name & Headline

Your name should be between 22-26 pt font and your headline should be between 10-12 pt font. Include your phone number on your resume, email signature, etc. to make it easy for employers to contact you and have access to your number. Present the primary email you want to be contacted at. Connect your email to your phone and reply within 48 hours of the hiring team reaching out to you for interviews.
Because everything is digital nowadays, it's acceptable to substitute your address with your LinkedIn URL (as long as it looks professional and well-kept). On that note, if you're in the creative field, have published work, blog in your free time or have graphic design experience, consider making a portfolio website to promote your talents and expertise.

The "Education" Section

Master's Degree

If you're in a master program or applying to work abroad, you're most likely going to be writing a Curriculum Vitae (CV) instead of a resume. However, if you're in a combined degree and still an undergraduate student, treat your Master's degree like your Bachelor's degree and structure it the same way.

Bachelor's Degree

Keep it short and simple. Make sure you know the specifics of your degree, like whether it's a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts, etc. Highlight your minors, or if you're struggling to fill your four year plan, talk to an advisor to see if you can add a minor.

Study Abroad

Companies are looking for candidates with a global, well-rounded mindset. Feature your summer/semester study abroad experience, especially if you went to a great school. For those of you who don't have much room to fit another education section, add a similar "minor" line on your Bachelor degree and replace it with the title of your study abroad program.

High School Diploma

If you're applying to internships or jobs, it's recommended that you don't include your high school experience. For freshmen and sophomores that have empty space, keep it on there for now and transition it out as you get more relevant experience.


Recruiters have a baseline GPA that candidates need to meet in order to be considered for employment. It could look like you're hiding something or indicate that you are unqualified for the position if you do not include your GPA. Round your GPA to the nearest two decimal places like this: 3.62/4.00

The 3 Step Process To Writing Impactful Content

"Action verb + transferable skill + success orientation." Once you get the hang of it, it'll take you a fraction of the time to come up with great content.

1. Action verb

This is my favorite, go-to action verb list that I use when writing bullet points. Avoid repeating the same action verb throughout your sections. With this list, you can find synonymous action verbs that are just as powerful. Pro tip: check the job listing and see what action verbs they use and mirror them in your content. Sometimes companies use an applicant tracking system to narrow down their pool so using their buzzwords might increase your chances.

2. Transferable Skill

These are the skills that you can take from one job or experience to another that make you competitive. Think: analysis, leadership, interpersonal, organization, communication, prioritizing, financial, etc. Look in the job posting to find these as well and don't be afraid to blatantly say something like "utilized interpersonal skills to XYZ" in your bullet point.

3. Success Orientation

It's the big "so what?" and ability to quantify and qualify your achievements. Why is it important for you to include that specific task? Take my Buying & Planning Internship line for example. If I just stated "Attended market and vendor meetings with the buying team," that doesn't show much. I can add success orientation like this: "Attended market and vendor meetings with the buying team to help select new products for the 2017 Bridal Wall." This reinforces that I contributed to those meetings and illustrates that I did more than tagging along with the buyers.
Numbers help establish your credibility and reiterate your competency. Remember that event planning position you held in your organization that you thought wasn't very important? Try this: "Elected by 180 members to plan six diverse events and efficiently utilize a $30K budget." Through this, an employer can easily tell that you have organizational, financial and interpersonal skills.

The "Work Experience" Section

Unpaid Positions

Sometimes people have this stigma toward unpaid positions and are reluctant to put experiences under the work section (think: research and local internships). If you put in the work and would want to talk about it in interview, put it on there. Chances are that recruiters won't know if you're getting paid or not.

Restaurant, Retail, or Other Minimum Wage Jobs

Don't underestimate that serving job you had your sophomore year; you can spin it as a time management, customer service oriented role that taught you how to work with diverse groups of people under pressure. Following that, avoid making it a laundry list of every minimum wage job you've ever done.

The "Leadership and Involvement" Section

Member Positions

While developing your resume, incorporate your member positions and upgrade them later on if you get a leadership position. Network with E-Board members to figure out what the club is all about and write your content based on that.
Remember, it's better to have one or two leadership roles than six membership positions. This will come with time and experience so don't get discouraged if you have more member roles right now.

Multiple Positions Under One Organization

Use the picture above to structure multiple positions within the same organization.

Greek Affiliated Positions

If you have leadership roles in your organization, don't underestimate those! The E-Board holds a lot of responsibility so spice up your content to let recruiters know how much work you put in. On that note, a plethora of students are greek affiliated so if you're an active member consider including this in your Interests line instead.

The "Skills" Section

This is my favorite section because you can get creative and show your proficiency, interests and personality in just a few short lines. Every skills section is different, so take the picture above with a grain of salt. My recommendation is to stick with 2-4 of these sub-categories.


When recruiters see "certification" instead of "proficiency," it infers that you have a higher knowledge of the program or content. Usually you pay for these and have to pass a test in order to be considered certified. For business majors, check with your university to see if they offer any electives that can get you certified in Microsoft programs, Bloomberg, Adobe programs, etc.

Language Proficiency

Companies want candidates with international backgrounds and experience. Make yourself more marketable by listing all the languages you speak and the corresponding proficiency.

Miscellaneous Proficiency Lines

As you gain more experience and are looking at entry-level jobs, you might have racked up knowledge of specific programs from your internships. Some proficiency lines that I've seen include financial, digital marketing, social media, computing, information systems and statistical.


Valedictorian? Case competition finalist or winner? Dean's list? Showcase it here.

Interests Line

Every millennial loves to travel so that won't make you stand out. Consider the position you're applying for and be strategic about it. The job posting is seeking candidates who are analytical, team-oriented and risk takers. Your interests could be activities like Sudoku connoisseur, salsa dancing and scuba diving.

Consider A Quote

A quote at the bottom of your resume that encompasses your work ethic can go a long way. Double check that you know who said your quote and don't let it be an afterthought. A hiring manager might bring it up and ask you about it.

What If I Have Minimal Proficiency And Skills?

You're in luck! LinkedIn bought out and now it's this thing called LinkedIn Learning. I taught myself how to become proficient in Adobe Photoshop and InDesign just by watching tutorial videos. If the industry that you're in requires proficiency in certain programs or skills, be ahead of the game and teach yourself. It goes a long way when you understand how Pivot Tables, Ad Words or SPSS all work and you can effectively communicate that to recruiters.

One More Thing: click here to download a free resume template.

Which tip or trick did you find most helpful? Comment below! #StudentVoices

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