How to Format Your Resume

Looking to format your resume? Save time with the CVC's Resume Template.

On average, your resume receives about 6 seconds of attention. Clean (and predictable!) formatting helps the reviewer get a clear sense of your experience at a glance. Here’s how to stand out in 6 seconds: 

Resume Format Matters Sample Resume

1) Contact Information 

Your first line is your first and last names in bold, 16-18pt font. Next, list your contact information: cell phone number, email address, and customized LinkedIn URL. If you choose to hyperlink, remove automatic formatting.

2) Education

Include your school’s name, location, official degree title, anticipated graduation date, major(s), minor(s), licensure & endorsements, and GPA (if above 3.20). Always include the scale for your GPA (e.g., 3.37/4.00). Including relevant coursework and academic honors, study abroad, and scholarships (give a brief description) is optional.

3) Experience

The experience section aligns your past experiences with your current pursuits. Remember that your experience is not limited to paid jobs! Group your experiences in 1-2 categories that best highlight skills relevant to the job. List experiences in reverse chronological order within the appropriate section; providing your position, the organization name and location, and dates employed. See our list of Sample Resumes for examples of different sections!

Under each experience, include 2-4 bullet points with accomplishment statements describing your achievements. Use strong action verbs to begin each statement, quantify your work whenever possible, and avoid ambiguity by answering three questions in each statement:

  • What you did – what were you trying to accomplish?
  • Why you did it – what was the end goal or purpose?
  • How you did it – what skills did you use/develop to achieve your goal?

4) Skills

"Additional Skills” or “Additional Experience” is often the final section on a resume.* Foreign languages, computer proficiency (do not include Microsoft Office Suite, as most employers consider this a given) and training certifications are among the skills typically listed in this section. Include your level of expertise or fluency with each skill, such as fluent, advanced, proficient, intermediate, or beginner. You can also use this space to highlight multicultural experience you may have gained through service trips, or cross-cultural studies completed abroad.

*Note: If you are applying to a position that requires specific technical skills (e.g., Python, HTML, ArcGIS) we strongly encourage you to consider moving your skills experience up below Education. Stand out by weaving these hard skills into your accomplishment statements as part of answering the “how” question! (See pages 5-8 of our Sample Resumes for examples.)