1. Be strategic
Your resume isn’t a list of everything you’ve ever done. Carefully curate the experiences that best capture your skills and problem-solving abilities. Rather than using generic headers like “work” and “volunteering,” use tailored headings that are more descriptive of your experiences to group similar positions together, such as “research,” “international experience,” “teaching experience” and “leadership experience.”
2. Keep it consistent
No matter what formatting choice you make, maintain editorial consistency by using that format throughout the document. For example, if one header is in a bold font, make sure all headers are bolded. Each position on your resume should include a title, place of employment, location and date range or year. Resumes that are free of errors with consistent formatting convey attention to detail and professionalism.
3. Include a variety of experiences
Paid employment isn’t the only thing that matters to employers. Leadership positions, student organizations, volunteering, internships, service-learning, philanthropy, projects, freelancing, study abroad and part-time positions can all be great examples of your skills and personality. In professional documents, how you write about your experiences often matters more than the experiences themselves.
4. Think like an employer
Employers spend an average of six seconds per resume (at least at first glance!). Take the time to scan your document with fresh eyes and to make sure everything on the page is relevant for the specific job for which you’re applying. You want employers to clearly see the connection between your experience and their open position.
5. Keep it visually balanced
The form and function of a resume is for an employer to quickly scan and get an overview of your professional experience. Strong resumes have a balance of black and white space, meaning you want to avoid an overwhelming amount of text or an overwhelming amount of empty space. Pick a legible font and avoid using text smaller than 10 points. Don’t include any photos and keep graphics to a minimum. If you choose to use color text, make sure everything is legible when the document is printed in black and white.