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Writing a U.S. Style Resume Webster University I Career Planning & Development Center

Writing a U.S. Style Resume Overview

  • What is an American Style Resume? How is a Resume Different than a Curriculum Vitae (CV)?
  • Resume Development Strategies
  • Formatting your Resume
  • Resume Content Sections
  • Preparing Bulleted Task Descriptions
  • Resume Sample Documents

What is a Resume?

A resume is a summary of your qualifications, and it is used when searching for internships or jobs.

Your resume communicates your goal while highlighting your education, experience, and skills. The primary purpose of your resume is to secure an interview. Resumes are also used as a marketing tool for yourself when conducting informational interviews as well as networking.

What is a Curriculum Vitae (CV)?

Some countries may use the term CV to designate what would be considered a resume in the United States.

A Curriculum Vitae or CV is common for professionals who are pursuing positions within academia in the United States. You may also use a CV when applying to graduate school, research positions, or for grants/fellowships. A CV is typically longer than a standard industry resume and will continue to grow as experience is gained.

Resume Development Strategies

Approach the development of your American Style resume with a specific goal. This goal may be to prepare a comprehensive resume that includes a variety of skills and qualifications through multiple sources of experience, or a tailored resume that reflects your academic and career interests.

Whatever your goal may be, get started by reviewing the strategies for resume development below.

Be conscientious of your audience

Who will be reading this resume and for what purpose? When writing a resume, you will need to customize the content to appeal to the reader. You should have multiple versions of your resume, tailored to the intended audience.

Highlight your key skills and experience based on the purpose of each resume

Your customized resume is a tool you can use to market your skills, especially as they relate to an individual job. In a job posting, the employer will outline a list of skills and qualifications that their ideal candidate would possess. As you're crafting your tailored document, concentrate on describing your skills and experiences that align most directly with the employer's needs. You do not need to include your entire academic and work history in your resume. Instead, focus on the most relevant pieces of information.

Consider multiple sources of experience

Your study abroad experience in the United States is a source of experiential learning, as well as additional sources of valuable experience through every activity in your life. When deciding on what experiences to include on your resume, think about the job specific skills acquired that are transferable to employment opportunities you're interested in.

Seek feedback (employers, academic and career advisors, faculty, etc.)

Because first impressions are extremely important, you should ask others for assistance in reviewing your resume. Industry experts, faculty, and employers can provide excellent feedback regarding content, especially as it relates to your field of choice.

Create a theme throughout your application materials

Connect your resume content to other pieces used in the application process. How does your *cover letter reinforce key areas of skills/qualifications that are highlighted in your resume? How will this connect to your interviewing approach? In preparing your application materials, ensure that you unify the message that you want to relay to your prospective employer.

*Written professional communication includes cover letter writing, e-mail communication and thank-you note writing. Please be aware that your resume is not the only piece of professional communication that should be developed in preparation for an internship or job search process.

Formatting your Resume

Resumes can look different from industry to industry. Review our formatting recommendations below to achieve a customized appearance of your U.S. Style Resume.

Layout: The layout of your resume should be well-organized and consistent. The reader should be able to quickly pick out information from the different content areas of your resume.

Templates: Do not use a resume template. Resume readers can immediately identify these formats. They also limit your ability to change the content and style of your resume.

Length: Limit your resume to one page. If you have a few years of relevant experience, your resume may be longer. Certain industries or occupations, such as academia, may favor longer resumes.

Margins: Set all margins (left, right, top, and bottom) no smaller than 0.5” and no larger than 1”.

Font and Font Size: Use one professional-looking font. Consider using Arial, Times New Roman, or Times. Font size should be between 10 and 12 point. Font size for headings and subheadings may be slightly larger to draw attention to them.

White Space: Use white (blank) space effectively to make your resume look balanced, professional, and easy to read. Avoid filling the entire surface of the paper with information. However, you don’t want to leave too much white space either.

Enhancements: Enhancements bring attention to certain parts of your resume that you want to highlight. Use indention (tabs), bolding, capitalization, and bullet points to bring attention to important information.

Chronological Resume Format

Within each section, most recent information noted first and least recent information noted last

Key Resume Content Areas

Employers have a limited amount of time to review the content included in your resume. It is important to focus on the key resume content areas outlined in this section before adding optional content to your resume. Key resume content areas include:
  • Contact Information
  • Education
  • Experience

Contact Information

Your contact information should be the first content area that the employer sees. This information includes your name, telephone number(s), and e-mail address.

Education

With your most recent educational experience listed first, your education section should include the following information:

  • Name of university or college and its location
  • Degree and major (Examples: Master of Arts in Business Administration; Bachelor of Science in Information Technology)
  • Month and year of graduation/expected graduation

Optionally, some students choose to add-in additional information including:

  • Minor(s), Area of Concentration, or Related Coursework
  • *Grade Point Average (GPA) if it is equal to or greater than a 3.0

*Related experience at the graduate level is more valuable to employers than GPA

Experience

The experience section of your resume tells the reader what type of experience you have that makes you a qualified candidate for a specific position.

Sources of Experience

  • Study abroad
  • Volunteer Positions
  • co-curricular activities
  • Major class projects
  • Student clubs and organizations
  • On-Campus student employment (Webster Groves, MO)
  • Internships (Curricular Practical Training)

Define Your Skills

Prepare effective bulleted task descriptions for each experience included on your resume

Using effective and persuasive language when writing a resume can be a difficult task. Employers will spend a brief amount of time looking through your resume, so it’s important to make an impact through your bulleted task descriptions.

Example Task Descriptions

click to enlarger the image.

Optional Information

Some information may not be necessary but can be included if you think it’s relevant. Optional content includes: a summary of qualifications or objective, skills, awards/honors, involvement/leadership, professional information, etc. See below for more details about possible optional content you can include in your resume.

Summary of Qualifications

A summary of qualifications is a brief statement or list of bullet points that summarizes your education, experience, and/or skills relevant to the position you are applying to.

Objective Statement

An objective appears at the top of your resume. An objective tells the reader about your career goals and/or expresses your interest in the specific job you are applying for.

Examples:

  • To obtain an institutional work study position at Webster University, utilizing organization, interpersonal communication and leadership skills.
  • Graduate Information Technology Management student seeking a Curricular Practical Training (CPT) opportunity to strengthen leadership and technical skills.

Skills

A skills section of a resume includes a listing of technical and/or language skills that you have demonstrated proficiency in.

Examples:

Technical Skills: Adobe Creative Cloud including Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, and Spark

Language Skills: Spanish (Native), French (Proficient), English (Proficient)

Awards, Honors, Recognitions

This optional section of your resume can include a listing of awards, honors, and/or recognitions that re related to your academic and career interests. They should be listed in reverse chronological order with the most recent recognition listed first. Include the recognition name and month/year recognized

Example: Webster University Student Global Leadership Summit, June 2018

Professional Affiliations

Membership in a professional association related to your academic and career interest areas can be an important content section of your resume. List any professional affiliations where you have a student membership in reverse chronological order, leading with the most recent affiliation first and duration of membership.

Example: National Association of Colleges and Employers, March 2015 - Present

Resume Examples

Academic Projects
International Student, Multiple Sources of Experience

Your Turn

It's now time to apply your learning and begin preparing a resume of your own. Use the activity sheet below to organize content for your resume.

Schedule an Advising Appointment through Handshake or call 314-968-6982

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