Résumés and CVs

Your résumé or CV (curriculum vitae) has one purpose: to get you an interview. And it needs to accomplish this in 30 seconds. Therefore, it should be clear, concise, well organized, and easy to read. It should highlight your accomplishments and qualifications in a way that will quickly grab the attention of a prospective employer.

Résumé or CV: What’s the Difference?

Although the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, a CV and a résumé are different documents used for different purposes.

A resume is a one- (or two-) page summary of your skills, experience, and education, usually used to apply for employment in the United States.  A résumé is brief and concise, and highlights the information most relevant to the job you’re applying for.

A curriculum vitae (CV) is longer (at least two pages) and provides a more detailed summary of your educational and academic backgrounds, as well as teaching and research experience, publications, presentations, awards, honors, affiliations, and other details. In Europe, the Middle East, Africa, or Asia, employers may expect to receive a CV for job applications. In the U.S., a CV is used primarily when applying for academic or research positions. It is also applicable when applying for fellowships or grants.

Guidelines for Creating a Résumé That Gets You an Interview

There’s no one “right” way to write a résumé or CV, but here are some guidelines to help you create one that gets you the interviews you’re seeking.

Follow “Résumé Style”

  • Be brief. Make every word count and avoid flowery language.
  • List employment and education items in reverse chronological order (most recent first).
  • Generally, omit articles (e.g., a, an, the), and omit pronouns (I, me, my, you, your).
  • For emphasis, you can use bold, italics, or CAPITALS, but be careful not to overdo it. 

Include Only True and Relevant Information

It should go without saying that everything on your résumé needs to be true. Information is relevant if it helps make the case that you are qualified for the position you seek and would be an asset to the organization.

  • Highlights
  • Experience history (including internships & volunteer work)
  • Education
  • Coursework (if relevant, and be brief)
  • Activities
  • Honors and awards
  • Memberships
  • Publications
  • Community service projects
  • International experiences

You might want to create a “master” résumé that includes everything, and then tailor it for each application.

Positioning Is Important

What comes first almost always gets read first, so order information accordingly.

Choose Words With Impact

Be aware that in your résumé, every word counts. Describe your skills in functional terms using strong nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs that express your key accomplishments and relevant experience well. Delete or replace any word that is not pulling its weight.

Aim for a fairly general description of your skills so that their transferability to other fields is readily obvious, but be specific enough to be clear.

Too specific: Folded shirts and pants and stacked them on shelves according to size and color
Better: Created neat and attractive retail displays that resulted in increased sales

Identify the component skills that are associated with more general skills you possess.

General: Good manager
Better: Supervised staff of ten including hiring, training, and managing schedules

You will need to have hard copies of your résumé printed on quality paper, as well as a PDF you can email or upload.

Sample résumés
Sample CV

How to Create a Resume

How to Create a Résumé

Karen Altus, CCC senior career counselor, presents a webinar on how to create a résumé.

Sample Résumés by Major

View samples of résumés tailored to these majors:

See all sample résumés

Resume Help

Need Help With Your Résumé?

Our career counselors are available to critique your résumé or even assist you in creating one. Contact us to make an appointment, or drop in for a 15-minute walk-in appointment 3–5 p.m. Monday–Friday. 

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