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University Writing Center

SWC 4: Composing a Resume or CV

Dynamic PDF: Composing a Resume or CV

Resumes and curriculum vitae, or a CV, give potential employers a snapshot of who you are on paper. Because of this, you will want to use a relatively basic format, unless you’re in a creative field like graphic design. Resumes are concise (typically 1-2 pages in length). They should include information specific to the job for which you are applying. However, CVs are longer and provide more information and detail regarding the applicant’s educational and professional history. Both resumes and CVs should list information in the order of most recent to least recent.

Resumes Include:

  • Your name
  • Contact information: city of residence, email, and phone number
  • Skills: Microsoft Office, management, leadership, etc.
  • Education history: institution, dates of attendance, GPA, honors/awards, and degree program
  • Field/Other Work Experience: job title, dates of employment, and job duties
    • Depending on the function of the resume, it can be important to differentiate between Field Experience and Other Work Experience. For example, if you are applying for a job in your field of study (engineering, computer science, etc.), internships and volunteer work with organizations in your field is the most relevant to the application and falls under Field Experience. However, while your job in an unrelated field (restaurant manager, sales lead, etc.) isn’t relevant to the job itself, it can be used to establish experience in leadership and show longevity. This can be incorporated under Other Work Experience.
  • Campus and/or Community Involvement: volunteer work, academic organizations, etc.

CVs should include all of the above information in addition to conference presentationsoriginal researchpublications, and other categories specific to the position.

Writing about Yourself: It is important to use strong action words when describing your jobs and accomplishments.

Stronger Resume Words:

  • Advanced
  • Coached
  • Consulted
  • Developed
  • Drafted
  • Executed
  • Generated
  • Influenced
  • Instructed
  • Orchestrated
  • Refined
  • Updated

Overused, Vague Resume Words:

  • Capable
  • Created
  • Detail-oriented
  • Go-to person
  • Hardworking
  • Motivated
  • Problem solver
  • Team player


Use a simple font sized at 11 or 12 point. If incorporating bolding, underlining, or italics, keep the formatting consistent throughout. Keep in mind readability: Is your design distracting the reader from what you have written? Margins should be set between 1” and .5” to maintain clear borders and provide maximum space for writing.

See the printable version for a sample resume. 

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