Person scans a resume for keywords.

The goal of the resume is not to win you a job; it is to create an opportunity to discuss further, in person, how your skills, experiences and abilities could be an asset to the employer.

The terms resume and CV (curriculum vitae) are often used interchangeably, but sometimes employers are specific about what they are requesting. Therefore, it is recommended that you prepare your skills and accomplishments in both formats. The information below will give you general guidelines.

Resume or CV, what’s the difference?

A CV is typically used when applying for academic, educational, scientific or research positions. It is also used when applying for fellowships, grants and international positions. A CV can be four or more pages, or even longer depending on experiences.

A resume is primarily used when applying to private industry, or a position with a non-profit organization. The resume is usually no more than one to two pages, and includes information relevant to the position for which you are applying. Comparatively, a CV is generally more comprehensive. A good rule of thumb is for Bachelor-level candidates to have a one-page resume, Master-level candidates to have a two-page resume, and doctoral candidates would present a CV (but again, it may depend on the industry).

It is recommended that you keep a running inventory of all of your job experiences in a file where you can pick and choose the most appropriate items to put on a CV or resume.

Resume and CV content

There are differing opinions regarding what and how your content should appear on your resume or CV. The first thing to remember is that this is your document and an expression of who you are. Use the resources below to help you target your resume in the way that best communicates your experiences and skills. The content that is highlighted on your resume or CV should be relevant to the position for which you are applying. Design your content with a particular focus or target in mind. The goal of the resume is not to win you a job; it is to create an opportunity to discuss further, in person, how your skills, experiences and abilities could be an asset to the employer.

Suggested resume categories

Contact Information
Objective or Summary of Qualifications (optional)
Relevant Experience
Relevant Coursework
Technical Skills
Special Skills/Areas of Specialization
Community Service/Volunteer Work
Honors and Awards
Study Abroad/Travel/Languages
Military Experience
Other Experience

Additional categories for a CV

Dissertation/Thesis topic
Postdoctoral Training/Fellowships
Teaching Experience
Abstracts and Presentations
Professional Affiliations
Research Grants
University Committee Appointments

Quick resume tips

  • Have a clear job target before writing your resume. Target your resume to each specific job you apply for.
  • Take inventory of your most important qualities, capabilities, strengths accomplishments, experiences, and skills, and work them into your resume.
  • Select the resume format that suits you best. Do not try to make your resume look like everyone else’s resume. Think creatively and package yourself in the best way possible.
  • Stress your contributions, not just the duties involved when describing what you have done. Use “results” statements and be specific. For example, use numbers, dollar amounts, etc., and use language that is customary in the industry.
  • Don’t include any extraneous or personal information such as marital status, religion, political party and national origin. Indicating your religion or national origin adds nothing to your qualifications, yet it might set up an unfavorable reaction in the mind of the reader.
  • Begin sentences with power verbs; avoid long-winded sentences. Instead, use bullet points.
  • Don’t expect to write your resume all at once. Draft your resume first, then refine and polish it by having it critiqued and proofread for grammar, punctuation, spelling, and clarity.
  • Make it attractive. Use a clear, easy-to-read typeface and reproduce it on a neutral colored, top-quality paper. White is always acceptable.
  • Do not put a photograph on your resume. Many employers discard resumes with pictures to avoid charges of discrimination.
  • Take as much space as you need to say what you want to say, no more, no less. If you need a second page and can legitimately defend all of the information you want to include, than do, but make sure the most relevant information is on the first page. Always put your name on the second page.
  • Describe your work experiences, including volunteer work, activities, and school project assignments, in terms that relate to your targeted career objective.
  • Do not include salary information.
  • Don’t list references on your resume or CV In order to keep the resume brief, nothing should be included except essentials. You should prepare your references on a separate sheet of paper ready to be submitted upon request.
  • Never send a resume without a cover letter, unless the employer specifically requests no cover letters.
  • No Excuses–Do not include the reasons you left each position on your resume.
  • Target Your Audience–If you are not qualified for a position, don’t apply.
  • No Extra Papers, Please–When you send out your resume, don’t include copies of transcripts, letters of recommendation or awards, unless you are specifically asked to do so. If you are called in for an interview, you may bring these extra materials along in your briefcase for show-and-tell.
  • Do NOT lie on your resume. You should never misrepresent your skills or experience. One well meaning exaggeration can ruin your chances of any consideration for employment.

Adapted from

E-resume tips

If you are sending your resume on-line via email or if you are uploading your resume into an electronic form, there are several things to consider before processing your application. Large companies and governmental agencies often use scanning equipment software to help weed through the tremendous number of resumes they receive for each position. For this reason, the following tips should be helpful.

  • Use the title of the job and/or job number in the subject line of your email.
  • Include an abbreviated cover letter in the text of your email that explains why you are contacting the person. Refer the reader to your attached cover letter and resume. It is also appropriate if you choose to include your full cover letter in the text of your email. Sometimes however, there is not adequate space or formatting capabilities.
  • Some companies will not open attached documents because of email viruses. If you fear this might be the case, they probably have an on-line application process. You can ask the contact which way they prefer to receive your resume.
  • If you are using templates, unusual typefaces, lines, shading or other graphics, consider attaching your document as a PDF. This way the employer will see it as you intended.

Scannable resumes

  • Resumes are scanned into the computer and the software searches the resumes for keywords. If the particular key words being searched are not present in your resume, you will not be chosen for the next process. Therefore, it is important to have key words present in your resume if applying on line.
  • Do not use formatting such as weird bullets, italics, underlining, lines, boxes, or excessive amounts of bolding. Many on-line systems cannot read these or they get jumbled when processed. Also, stay away from odd typefaces and wizard templates.
  • Stay away from tables or columns, shading, or other graphics.
  • Keep margins to one inch if possible and use mainstream typefaces such as Times New Roman, Arial or Verdana 10 pt.
  • Using key words
  • Be sure to list specific skills. For example instead of “statistical software packages” list SAS and SPSS.
  • Include industry jargon words or “buzz words” only if you know the reader will understand them.
  • Refer to the position description and use their language to describe your relevant skills.
  • Spell out acronyms such as HESA, Healthcare Executives Student Association
  • Include key words in your objective or summary if you use such a category.

For all applications

  • Follow up by sending a hard copy cover letter and resume to the contact.
  • Also, follow up in the appropriate time to inquire about the status of your application. Persistence may pay off; however, you want to be professionally persistent, but not a nag.

Adapted from

Resume samples
Sample resume format (one page)
Sample resume format (two page – Master-level)
CV Sample 1 (HPM Doctoral example)
CV Sample 2 (ESE Doctoral example)
CV Sample 3 (NUTR Doctoral example)
(all samples given with permission)

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