Résumés--Getting Started

Step One: Review Your College Experience

A good place to begin is to think about the experiences and accomplishments you have had thus far in your college career. Make a list of the jobs and internships you held, conferences you attended, research projects you conducted, public speaking presentations, organizations you are a part of, leadership roles you have held across campus, volunteer activities, honors or awards, computer skills, special training, languages you know, or any recreational activities in which you have engaged. Once you make this list, it may be easier to organize and write the rest of your résumé.

Step Two: Identify Résumé Headings

Select headings to be used on your résumé that best highlight your achievements and experiences that are relevant to the position for which you are applying. Begin with the basic sections: Identification, Objective/Summary, Education, Experience (both paid and unpaid; jobs, internships, volunteer), Campus Involvement, and Technical Skills. Add additional sections to customize your résumé.

Step Three: Provide Complete and Accurate Information Identification Section

  • Full Name (avoid nicknames)
  • Middle Initial (optional)
  • Home or Permanent Address (street address, city, state, zip)
  • Campus or Local Address (optional)
  • Cell Number (no home phone required)
  • One Email Address (school address or professional-sounding Gmail)
  • LinkedIn Profile Address and/or other Websites, Portfolios, etc.
  • Don't include your picture, marital status, gender, age, religious affiliation, or social security number

Step Four: Develop the “Guts” of Your Résumé


The employer will typically scan your résumé for fifteen seconds and look for key words and this section allows you place those key words in a clearly marked location. Some job seekers choose to give their résumé focus by starting with an objective. This is helpful when your experiences do not indicate a particular career direction and you are targeting a particular field. If your career direction is obviously based on your education and experiences, such as teaching, an objective may not be needed. If you choose to use an objective, avoid flowery phrases, clichés and vague general language. An objective can focus on a function, an industry or the skills you wish to use.


  • An entry-level position in arts administration
  • Writing, Research and Copy Editing Professional
  • An internship in a biochemical research lab

Some people choose to use a summary instead of an objective. This is a list of the strongest qualifications you can bring to the job and should be tailored to each position to which you apply.


  • Exceptional interpersonal communication skills, both written and verbal
  • Strong ability to effectively multi-task in a fast-paced office environment
  • Motivated towards achieving set goals and deadlines in a timely manner
  • Experienced in customer service and warranty claims
  • Professional and energetic work attitude

Education, Training, and Certifications

  • First years and sophomores: list Saint Mary's and high school education
  • Juniors and seniors: only list Saint Mary's education
    • Institution's name, city, state, graduation/expected graduation, degree/diploma, field(s) of study (majors and minors)
    • GPA (if 3.0 or higher), academic honors, and awards
    • Relevant coursework (if less candidate has less experience)
  • Study abroad experiences
  • Other certification and training courses (name of institution, certification received, and month.year received)

Experience Sections

  • Internships (paid, unpaid, for-credit, or not-for-credit)
  • Work (full-time, part-time, summer, academic year, and seasonal)
  • Volunteer (service, for-credit, not-for-credit, ongoing, or temporary)
  • Include details:
    • Name of employer/organization, city, state, and dates
    • Bullets describing your work: Verb + Detail + Result/Outcome/Purpose

Consider these questions when writing your bullerts (not all of them will apply):

  1. Whom did you work for or with? Will mentioning them strengthen your image?
  2. Will describing the size of the department you worked for strengthen your image?
  3. Will using numbers to describe your responsibilities strengthen your image?
  4. Did you create, reorganize, conceive, or establish any procedures or systems?
  5. Have you increased productivity, saved money, or reduced labor?
  6. Did you have responsibility for special projects? If so, how large were they?
  7. Have you been complimented for special talents?
  8. Do you have technical or special skills relevant to your objective?
  9. Do you have experience training or supervising staff? If so, how many?
  10. Have you received promotions that demonstrate achievement?
  11. Have you received any awards or certificates that relate to your job objective?
  12. Have you identified the top five skill requirements for the position you want?

Step Five: Format Your Résumé

  • Don't use "cookie cutter" templates!
  • Use lines, bolding, italicizing, graphics appropriately.
  • See sample résumés for formatting ideas

Step Six: Put Your Résumé to the Test

Have at least one person review your résumé and give you an honest opinion about its effectiveness. The staff at the Career Crossings Office can review your résumé and answer any questions you may have about preparing and presenting your résumé. Stop by to see us in the Spes Unica Building, Room 114, or contact us at (574) 284-4775 or cco@saintmarys.edu to schedule an appointment.

The Winning Résumé!

The ultimate test of your résumé will be adapting it to fit multiple positions for which you apply. Being able to format and reformat your résumé based upon individual employers’ needs will be the ultimate challenge. This is why it is crucial to review each job that you apply for and spend quality time on developing a résumé that will target each job. This will show the employers that you have taken the time to think about their needs and how your experiences and skills relate to their qualifications. One method for doing this is to highlight the key qualifications in the job description and use them as the base of your résumé. By doing so, you can clearly communicate in the employer’s language that you have what it takes to get the job done!