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CBS career coaching corner: résumé basics

Start preparing your résumé today

By Rebecca Christy, CBS Career Coach

This fall, I conducted résumé workshops with almost one-third of the CBS sophomore class through a Nature of Life module. Below are some of their questions from the workshops, along with my suggestions to enhance your résumé.

1. How long should my résumé be?
A current college student or recent graduate usually has a one page résumé. It may be appropriate to have a second page, but with optimal formatting and editing most students should limit themselves to one page.

2. What is appropriate formatting?
Generally, a .5 inch margin is acceptable (one inch margins are often the default). Keep text at 10 points or larger.

3. Should I include experiences from high school?
Typically, students should remove information from high school by the start of their junior year. One exception is organizations or experiences you continued engaging with while in college. If you believe you have an exceptional accomplishment from high school worth noting, consider speaking with a career coach, mentor or someone in your field about including the information. If including a high school accomplishment limits elaborating on a relevant or recent experience, it may not be worth it.

4. What about jobs during college not related to my long-term plans?
It is better to tell someone how you spend your time rather than let them speculate. For example, not including that you worked at a golf course or a restaurant the summer after your freshman year may lead someone to assume that you did nothing during that time. These jobs also teach students basic job responsibilities and work ethic that supervisors will appreciate and (hopefully) not have to teach you!

Working during the school year also puts your involvement or academic record into context for employers or admissions committees. Someone may have more reasonable expectations for your involvement outside of the classroom or your decision to take 13 credits in a semester instead of 16 if you worked 20 hours per week during the semester.

5. What are some tips for tailoring my résumé?
Taking the time to tailor your résumé for a specific opportunity conveys your interest in the position and makes it easier to show that you have relevant experience. If you apply for an opportunity that has a position description, look for ways to highlight the skills listed. If you have experience with lab techniques mentioned, feature these in your skills section and experience descriptions. If you apply for a public health position, consider grouping these experiences together by creating a public health experience section rather than having these experiences scattered within other sections like internship, student organizations or volunteering.

Additionally, consider the ordering of your sections. For current college students or recent graduates, your education section should usually be first, but you can arrange the order of the other sections to highlight certain experiences, as well. Depending on the opportunity, it may make more sense to have a research experience listed immediately under your education section.  In other cases, a health related experience section may be more relevant.

These are only some examples, your résumé may not have every section I mentioned above and that’s okay! Spend some time reflecting on what experiences make sense for your interests, skills and future career goals. Not sure what those are, or want some one-on-one help with your résumé? Consider making an appointment with me! Call our CBS Student Services Front Desk at 612-624-9717.