There is no absolute right format. This is your personal work, so create a résumé that represents you well and that you like.

However, be sure that you follow basic guidelines:

Résumé Guidelines

  • Make sure your résumé says the most about you in the fewest number of words (one page is recommended for Bachelor's level students - but there are some exceptions, e.g. more than ten years of employment experience; two pages for Graduate-level industry résumés, longer for academics CVs).
  • Be consistent with your format! Margins, bolding, capitalization, and style must be consistent. Ensure that your job title and degree title are in the same style and order...likewise, the name of the employer & school, the location of each, and your dates of employment  & graduation date.
  • PROOFREAD for typing and spelling accuracy.
  • Only items leading directly to setting up an interview should be included. Keep your résumé specific to the job you are applying for, even if that means having different résumés for different jobs. Salary requirements, supervisor's names, abbreviations, clichés, reasons for leaving jobs, personal opinions and personal information such as height, weight, age, marital status, etc. should be excluded if applying within the U.S.
  • Required Categories: (Heading) Name, Address, Phone Number (Note: Be sure your phone number is prominent. Employers who cannot find -or read- your telephone number will not call!), E-mail Address; (Body) Education, Experience (Work and/or Activities), and Research.
  • Optional Categories: (Body) Objective, Relevant Coursework, Honors & Awards, Activities, Skills, Publications and/or Presentations, Professional Affiliations, and other.
  • Grade Point Averages do not have to be listed, however most companies are interested in them. Generally companies will request a copy of your transcript, especially if they feel there is a job match. If you wish, you can also give a grade point average for your major area. If your GPA is above a 3.0 in either/both your overall or content areas, it is highly recommended that you include it on your resume.
  • Foreign Languages should usually be included if you can read and speak a language reasonably well. You should list a language taken to fulfill undergraduate college requirements only if you have achieved fluency.
  • If you do include an objective, be sure that it shows your career goals. It must be narrow and specific and include your strengths as they apply to the position.
  • Both the resume and cover letter should be examples of your best work! Maintain a positive tone by excluding negative aspects of your experience.
  • Make your résumé look professional. Use only a laser printer on good quality bond paper if you create a 'hard copy'. Use white, off white, or a light blue or gray, 8-1/2"x11" bond paper. (Remember that your potential employer may photocopy your résumé, so be sure that the paper is not dark or "blotchy" to photocopy well!).
  • Be specific with dates, job titles, employers, interests, and accomplishments. Be complete and descriptive without being too long. Always be completely accurate and truthful!
  • Use what is called telegraphic style. Omit all personal pronouns (I, we, they, you, etc.). Use incomplete sentences in list form (no paragraphs!) without punctuation.
  • Use results oriented "action verbs" in describing your experience. Words such as researched, coordinated, developed, created, implemented, managed, and prepared, are keys in telling employers what you have accomplished. Use past tense unless you are describing a job you are currently doing (in which case present tense or past tense is acceptable). Please see the Career Services Resource Library for additional recommendations of action verbs.
  • Do not staple, paper clip, fold, or put your resume or CV in a folder. Use the larger 9"x12" envelopes to mail and be sure watermarks, if your paper has them, are right-side up.


You may also choose to include a separate page of references when you submit your résumé to an employer. While reference information should never be included in your actual résumé, including an additional sheet may be a good way to provide the employer with additional information about yourself. Although an employer may not need your reference information, the worst that could happen is that they would throw that page of your packet away. It is more likely that they will look at your references page as another piece to determine whether or not to interview you.

When choosing references, it is important to consider those people who can give a good, professional review of your qualifications. Recent graduates will want to include a combination of professors, organizational advisors, work supervisors, or others who can speak about you at a professional level. (If you have several years of work experience, it may not be necessary to include former professors.)

Be sure to ask for permission before including someone as a reference. In addition, you may want to ask your potential reference if he or she would be able to provide a good reference for you. You will want to include the name, title, work address and phone number (unless your reference is retired and/or specifically requests he or she be contacted at home), and email address of three to five people who would be willing to provide a good, professional reference for you.

Make the heading on your references page similar to that on the top of your résumé. Then, list the heading "References" and include the contact information for each.

Résumé and Vita Advice

Visit the SCS Career Services office in 105 Noyes Lab for résumé/CV examples or schedule an appointment through Handshake @ Illinois. Examples can also be found on the Resource Library page.

Personal Information on the Web

Here is some collective wisdom if you choose to have a résumé on a home page or if you place your résumé on the internet in any way.

  • Before you put something on a home page, make sure you'd be willing to have it viewed by anybody in the world who has internet access. Consider the appropriateness, accuracy and clarity of organization as you make these decisions.
  • Be careful about posting extensive work which isn't protected by copyright or patent, or at least think about what you're doing before you do it.
  • Keep checking all your links to make sure they work. Think twice about adding links where you now the connect time is always very slow.
  • Ensure that all social media pages are professional. Many employers review these sites so any information, pictures, friends' pictures, etc. that do not give the same impression as you would convey in an interview should be removed.
  • Never ever give out your social security number via the internet or e-mail! Employers do not need it until you complete your tax paperwork in person.
  • Make sure the time you spend on your home page is proportionate to its likely relevance in your job search - that is, don't obsess over the home page and then neglect networking, thorough preparation for interviews, and so forth. At best, the home page is likely to be a useful addition to your search; don't mistake that part for the whole.