The formatting and content of a resume are extremely important. Recruiters spend an average of 6 seconds examining your document. You want to make sure it is easy to read and highlights your accomplishments and abilities. You want your bullets to show impact and convey specific skillsets. To understand more about the basic formatting, content, and ways to build strong bullets, use the guides below:
The way you choose to showcase your capabilities and achievements may impact the experiences you choose to convey and the items you include in a resume. Here are 3 examples of how this could look.
When you have been actively involved in clubs and organizations and have extensive experiences to highlight over work or internship experiences.
You may have secured multiple internships or held many work roles, whether part time or full time. You may also wish to incorporate CORE onto your resume. When looking to use primarily work/internship experiences and an academic team project, this example would be best.
As an incoming student, or a transfer student, you may wish to list 2 schools. You may also have involvement or experiences that derived from that school that you still wish to discuss. This example shows how to incorporate a team project from BU while also using experiences from your previous institution.
Before you begin writing your resume, perform a comprehensive self-inventory by:
- Making a list of experiences, activities, volunteer work, etc. or take a look at your current resume
- Noting for each activity, job, volunteer work, school projects, etc. skills and accomplishments you want to highlight
- Writing sentences under each experience to highlight those skills
- Listing as many details as possible about all of your experiences (do not worry about length at this time)
- Capitalize the first letters of the names of foreign countries, nationalities, and specific languages.
- Do not capitalize industries or disciplines such as marketing, finance, biotechnology, etc.
- Abbreviate states for employer locations. Use postal abbreviations (i.e., MA for Massachusetts). Do not abbreviate states in the body of a job description (i.e., responsible for sales in Massachusetts).
- Spell out your degree. (e.g., Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Master of Science in Business Administration). However, you can put the abbreviation in parentheses after the full degree name if you wish (e.g., Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA), Master of Science in Business Administration (MBA).
- For percentages use the percentage sign.
- Do not abbreviate Co. or Corp. Spell them out: company and corporation.
- Spell out address information: 15 Tenth Street, not 15 Tenth St.
- Write out years completely: 2016 – 2017, not 2016-18
- Spell out months: February not Feb
- Numbers less than 10 should be spelled out: Two, not 2
- Use figures for large monetary amounts: $250,000 in sales or $14.5 million (spell out million and use lower case “m”)
- When referring to monetary amounts from overseas, translate the amount into US dollars and write it out as follows: US$14.5 million.
- Contact Information
Helpful Formatting Tips:
- Limit resume to 1 page, unless you have 10+ years of experience.
- Always proofread! Read your resume, have an advisor or employer relations manager read your resume, the more the better!
- If you plan to pursue opportunities in different fields, you may wish to have more than one version of your resume. Each version should emphasize the skill set that you offer a prospective employer in the specific field.
- Use the same font type and font size throughout your resume, preferably 11 or 12 point, but never smaller than 10.
- If space allows, you may wish to draw greater attention to your name and increase the font size.
- It is recommended that you use a traditional, easy-to-read font, such as Times New Roman.
- Resume section headings should always be in UPPER CASE BOLD TYPE.
- Left, right, top and bottom margins should be no less than 0.5 inches. At a maximum, margins should be no wider than one inch.
Writing Powerful B-A-R Statements – Background, Action, and Result
- Think about ways that you made an impact or achieved an accomplishment.
|Before I organized the inventory, orders took three hours to process.||After I organized the inventory, orders were processed in half the time.|
- Always start your B-A-R Statements with an action verb (please see page 13 of Undergrad Resume Guide for a list). Avoid words or phrases such as aided, assisted, helped, learned, gained, participated, worked and responsibilities included. These words tend to be passive and do not actively reflect your role, skills, and accomplishments.
|Resulting B-A-R Statement: Organized inventory by creating an Excel spreadsheet and reduced order processing in half the time OR start with the accomplishment for more impact: Reduced order processing in half the time by organizing inventory on an Excel spreadsheet.|
- Incorporate numbers, data, facts, percentages and figures that create an impact.
|A long report||250-page status report|
|Managed staff||Managed four-person staff|
|Saved money||Saved department $75,000 annually|
|Short time||In less than three hours|
- Make sure your statements are clear and verifiable. Can you explain the results in detail to an interviewer?
- Determine the company’s needs and craft B-A-R Statements to meet those needs.
- Incorporate the skills, key words and competencies that the employer or industry values for the position.
- Be aware that resume readers and recruiters will likely read the first one or two bullets under each job. Therefore, order the bullets to reflect the skills that the employer finds most pertinent, and not necessarily those most important in the old job or those that consumed the greatest amount of time.
Incorporate computer, social media and language skills into this section. Be aware that if you indicate aptitude or proficiency in a technical skill or language, you should be prepared to discuss or speak it during an interview.
- Fluent means that you have the ability to speak, write and read the language with ease.
- Native speaker means that you are fluent in the language and have been immersed in the culture.
- Conversational means that you can speak the language with ease.
Skills Formatting Example
Click here to learn how to calculate your major GPA.
Cover Letter Help
Depending on the position you are applying for, you may chose to write a traditional cover letter or a bulleted cover letter. Please see the format guides below to learn more:
- Keep the letter concise and limit to one page (3-4 paragraphs maximum) which will ensure plenty of white space.
- Stick with a traditional format cover letter for accounting and finance positions.
- Use short paragraphs in block formation (no indentation).
- Leave a space (one return) between paragraphs.
- Include the complete company name and address even for online applications.
- Tailor letter for each position, company, etc. Employers can spot a generic cover letter right away.
- Stay positive and confident throughout the letter.
- Address the letter to an individual whenever possible. Otherwise, call the employer to find out the contact person or use “Dear Company Name Hiring Manager” or “Dear Company Name Human Resources”.
- Use active voice and professional language; write out contractions to make it more formal.
- Take time to write well and proofread for spelling and grammatical errors.
- Use the same font and stationery as your resume.
Undergraduate Academic & Career Development Center
Rafik B. Hariri Building
595 Commonwealth Avenue, Suite 104
Boston, MA 02215