The Catholic University of America

Resume Writing

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The Purpose of your Resume

  • Serves as the first impression that you give to employers.
  • Explains, in a specific format, how you are qualified for a position by highlighting your education, relevant experiences and achievements.
  • Goal: to convince the employer to interview you.

Getting Started . . .What Makes YOU Unique?

Consider what makes you special - what sets you apart from the rest of the pack? Choose information and select words that convey your personal strength.

Review your personal background. Look at your education, work experiences (including volunteer and internship experiences), activities, skills and knowledge.

Decide on what kind of job(s) you will be applying for. The best resumes are those targeted to particular goals.

Figure out what you want to say about yourself to a potential employer. Think about what employers want to know about YOU.

A good resume is

  • Professional in appearance
  • Well-organized and easy to read
  • Attractive to the eye
  • Current and up-to-date
  • Written using active, descriptive verbs (See p. 2)
  • Printed on resume-quality paper (no copier paper!)
  • Printed on business-like colors (off-white, ivory, light gray)
  • 1-page in length (usually)
  • Perfect! (no typos or misspellings)

Resume DON'Ts

  • DON'T make it too long or short in length.
  • DON'T fill it with irrelevant information.
  • DON'T have typos or misspellings!
  • DONT use too many abbreviations.
  • DON'T use several different fonts or a hard-to-read font.
  • DON'T use a style of resume paper that does not copy cleanly on other copiers. (Avoid swirled or marbled resume paper)

What Type of Resume Should I Create?

CHRONOLOGICAL - This is the most commonly used type of resume, and therefore the most familiar to employers. It lists information, organized by categories, and presented in reverse chronological order (the most recent is listed first). This format is good for demonstrating a steady employment or education history relevant to your career objective.

FUNCTIONAL - This style emphasizes capabilities, skill levels and accomplishments rather than job titles or time spent at various jobs. If you have limited work experience and want to highlight marketable skills, or if your degree is not related to your career objective, this format can be effective.

The Basics of Resume Writing

MUST include your name, address, phone number, academic background, related employment or experience (paid and non-paid), and skills related to your career objective and goals.

SHOULD include your college honors, activities and leadership roles, special skills (languages, computer, etc.), experiential learning including internships or study abroad, volunteer work, community service, practicals, clinicals, field placements, etc.

OTHER areas may include employment objective (if you include one, it should be specific and geared to the positions employers are offering; avoid objectives that are too broad and vague), related or pertinent course work (three to five courses that either focus on your career interest or compliment your educational experience), projects, senior thesis, GPA (if you're unsure about including it, it's probably best to leave it off), travel, professional memberships, publications, certifications, presentations, research, performances.

DO NOT include your personal data (such as height, weight, marital status, ethnicity, SSN), high school information (unless it's directly and significantly related to your goals) or personal pronouns. However, you may want to include your work status if you think employers may not realize that you have permission to work in the U.S.

Action Verb List

Accomplished Developed Instructed Reduced
Adapted Directed Introduced Reorganized
Administered Earned Invented Researched
Advised Edited Investigated Reviewed
Analyzed Eliminated Led Revised
Applied Enabled Maintained Scheduled
Arranged Enforced Managed Screened
Assisted Enhanced Mastered Selected
Balanced Established Mediated Served
Billed Evaluated Monitored Set Up
Briefed Examined Motivated Solved
Calculated Expanded Negotiated Structured
Carried Out Facilitated Observed Streamlined
Communicated Filed Operated Supervised
Compiled Formed Organized Supported
Completed Fostered Participated Surpassed
Computed Founded Performed Surveyed
Conducted Generated Persuaded Taught
Controlled Guided Planned Teamed with
Coordinated Harnessed Prepared Tested
Created Identified Presented Trained
Defined Illustrated Produced Tutored
Delegated Implemented Programmed Translated
Delivered Improved Provided Upgraded
Demonstrated Influenced Published Utilized
Designed Initiated Received Wrote
Determined Innovated Recommended  

Sample Resume Format


E-mail address

Campus Local Address: Permanent Address:

Number and Street Number and Street

City, State, Zip Code

Phone Number with Area Code


(Optional. If you choose to have one, tailor it to the position for which you are applying).


Bachelor of Arts OR Science (pick the appropriate one) in (your major): Concentration/Minor in ______ , May 200?

The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.

GPA: (if 3.0 or above; may include GPA in your major if 3.0 or above)

If applicable, you may want to include sections that include Honors, Relevant Coursework (three to five courses that relate to your objective, including any in which you are currently enrolled), Major Projects, Study Abroad.

(TYPE of) EXPERIENCE (ex: Accounting Experience, Business Experience, etc.):

Job Title, Name of Organization, City State, dates of employment (May require two lines)

For description, use short phrases that begin with action verbs (For a list of action verbs, see p. 4)

List positions in reverse chronological format, i.e. most recent first.

Do not use personal pronouns. Use bulleted (·) format.

Give details of your accomplishments and responsibilities rather than a general list of duties. Numbers make strong statements and can enhance credibility; these numbers can show volume, percentages, dollar amounts.

Do not be discouraged if you have never had employment in your field. Instead, create a functional resume that lists your strengths, skills and accomplishments. (Talk with a staff member about creating a functional resume).


"Related" can include positions related to primary experience above, but not relating to that category.


Job Title, Name of Organization, dates of employment

(In this section, you can leave out description entirely, or just provide a brief one-liner)


Computer: (software, systems, etc.)

Language: (include level of proficiency; ex: strong written and spoken in. . . fluent in. . .,etc. )

Certifications may also be included in this category.


List most relevant activities and leadership roles held first. Include college, community, professional. Also include number of years or specific dates these activities took place.

If an experience was fairly involved, you can provide a brief description, like in your job description(s).


You may decide to make this a separate category if (a) you've been very active in this area and (b) it is directly related to your career objective or goal. Some volunteer activities may actually belong in your "Experience" section.

REFERENCES available upon request.

It is not necessary to have the above line on your resume. Instead prepare a list of references on a separate page formatted to match your resume. Should employers request references as part of your application package, you'll then be ready to go.

Stick with three to five references. Consider individuals familiar with your academic work, leadership and teamwork skills and your employment history. (ex: professors, advisors, supervisors, etc.)

Include the reference's name, job title, organization, mailing address, phone number and e-mail.


Use an easy-to-read font. Recommended: Times New Roman. Stick with 10 to 12 point

Keep margins between .75" and 1.25" on all sides.

Length? No more than 1 page, except in special circumstances.

How can Career Services help?

  • 1-on-1 appointments with a staff member
  • Call x5623 to schedule an appointment or come by Pryz 127.
Not Bad Event Better
  • Assisted social worker in play therapy
    and observed weekly group therapy.


  • Assisted social worker in play therapy
    sessions and observed weekly group
    therapy for emotionally challenged
    children between ages 5-12.
  • Helped write training manual.
  • Updated and wrote 15-page orientation
    section for company-wide training manual.
  • Organized charity event.
  • Organized charity event for 200 to raise funds
    for new hospital wing. Solicited sponsors,
    located talent acts and negotiated catering
    costs. Event raised over $2,500.

How to Write a Reference Page

  • Create a separate reference page, formatted to match your resume. Don't forget to write in your name and contact info so employers can reach you.
  • For each reference: Include that person's name, job title, mailing address, contact phone number and e-mail address.
  • How many references should you include? Check the job announcement but if no instructions are given, a good rule of thumb is a minimum of 3 but no more than 4.

Sample reference page:


John Anyone
128 Upshur Lane, NW
Washington, DC 20158
(202) 333-4456 (cell)

Ms. Mary G. Smith
Marketing Coordinator
Time Warner, Inc.
825 Avenue of the Americas, Suite 2010
New York, NY 11101
(212) 111-2233

Professor Jane Doe
English Department
Summit University
1228 Main Street
Springfield, NY 22221
(201) 888-9990

Father John Brown
Associate Pastor and Volunteer Coordinator
St. Michael's Parish
228 Elm Branch Way

Greenville, NJ 00808
(302) 445-6678