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 (less for résumés!).

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 résumé and a CV are different documents used for different purposes.

A résumé 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 for which you’re applying.

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.

Résumé overview

Basic résumé example


Seattle, WA |  (206) 555-5555  |  CCC@spu.edu | LinkedIn.com/

QUALIFICATIONSA relevant skills statement, highlighting key strenghts related to the job. This is your "movie trailer" that makes an employer read on!

  • Reliable, purposeful, and solutions-oriented team member
  • Experienced with financial analysis, risk analysis and small business accounting
  • Highly proficient in Microsoft Access, Quickbooks, and Constant Contact

EDUCATION Highlight degrees, accomplishments and relative coursework

Bachelor of Arts in History

June 20XX

Seattle Pacific University (Seattle, WA)

  • Minor in Human Development and Family Studies

Study Abroad

September – December 20XX

University of Limerick (Limerick, Ireland)



Business Manager, The Lingua Journal

January 20XX – Present

Seattle Pacific University (Seattle, WA)

  • Manage $7,000 of funds in support of the literary and visual arts publication.
  • Negotiate with local vendors to reduce printing and advertising, reducing costs by 5%#'s and %'s convey accomplishment
  • Lead a group of 15 peers in real, active budget management.


Summers 20XX & 20XX

ABC Company Inc. (Seattle, WA)

  • Handled, collected, and inspected over 60 employee timesheets daily.
  • Calculated and recorded hourly rates for private, state, and federal certified wages.
  • Updated employee records and generated daily reports using Dexter & Cheney Software.
  • Arranged and recordedStart with powerful action verbs all equipment usage to improve equipment records.

ADDITIONAL EXPERIENCEThe final section can be designed to highlight honors, awards, leadership, volunteer, etc.

Computer Information Systems Help Desk

September 20XX – Present

Seattle Pacific University (Seattle, WA)

  • Address 15-50 daily customer service questions via phone, email, and desk

Play Therapy Volunteer

Summer 20XX

Sonrisa Preschool Camp (Nogales, Mexico)

Formatting basics

  • Limit to one page with most relevant items at the top.
    • Use a smaller font size (11-12) and thinner margins (.5”) to fit content.
  • It’s better to write résumés from scratch than to use a template.
    • Templates can be hard to edit and résumés should be updated frequently. Templates are also hard for Applicant Tracking Systems to read.
  • Utilize bold, CAPITALIZATION, and italics to make it easier to read. 
  • Start with a Qualifications section with three to six bullet points focused on the value you bring to a potential employer. 
  • Consider splitting your experiences into two sections: Relevant Experience (related to the position to which you’re applying) and Additional Experience (other paid positions, volunteer roles, projects, and extras not directly related).

How to share your experiences

  • Include experiences of all kinds — paid positions, volunteer roles, extracurricular projects classwork, and more.
  • Focus on the following to show the employer how you are qualified for the position for which they’re hiring:
  1. What did you do? Be specific. Highlight skills that you want to bring to the new role. 
  2. How did you use these skills? Be sure to use strong action verbs to paint a clear picture. (See 185 verb examples in Deeper dive section below!) 
  3. What was the result of using these skills or what impact did you make? Use specific numbers if you can, and be sure to give yourself credit for your hard work! 
  4. Sample experience bullet points:


    Helped with volunteers at local library book sale. 


    Recruited and trained 15 volunteers at local library book sale. 


    Recruited and trained 15 volunteers at local library book sale, cutting the average customer queue time by 10%.  



    Active member of Haven, a club for LGBTQ+ students that sponsors community events. 


    Volunteered at events as a member of Haven, a club for LGBTQ+ students that sponsors community events. 


    Coordinated four open mic nights that raised $500 for local charities as a member of Haven […] 



    Successfully completed a class project using coding and design tools for iPad environment. 


    Designed and implemented coding and design tools for iPad environment. 


    Designed and implemented multiple MVCs for iPad environment using Objective-C. 

Deeper dive: How to build an excellent résumé

Creating a résumé

Learn basics about creating a résumé that gets you an interview.

Watch on YouTube

How to tailor your résumé to a specific job

Master résumé vs tailored résumé

Master résumé = pantry

First, we recommend that everyone keep a master résumé as a Word document in your files. Store all your experiences from work, volunteer, and significant coursework here. Think of this like the pantry in your kitchen where you keep all your ingredients (e.g., flour, sugar, oil, etc.). This document will get long — and you don’t need to share this résumé with any employers (or even print it!).

Specific résumé = recipe

Then, when you’re applying to a specific position, think of your résumé as a recipe to get that position. On this résumé, include only the experiences and skills that the position asks for. (To extend the kitchen metaphor, a certain position might want flour and oil but no sugar, so you’ll leave that off.)

Highlight key words in the job description, paying particular attention to the Requirements/Qualifications section. (You don’t have to guess—this section is where they tell you exactly what they’re looking for!) See example in sample job posting below.

Make a list of the qualifications they want that you have—either all or in part. If they’re asking for 3 years of experience in an area, and you have 1, that’s still valuable! Or if they’re asking for a certain type of software expertise, and you know something similar, count that! List any experience you have that’s relevant to the job, and don’t limit yourself to only applying to jobs where you meet all the qualifications.

Start drafting your resume, beginning with the Qualifications section. Think of this section as your “movie trailer.” You want to quickly show the employer that you have what they need (in 10 seconds or less!) so they’ll read on through the rest of your resume. To do this:

  • Write a list of your qualifications that directly connect to the Requirements/Qualifications section of the job posting.
  • Put these qualifications in your own words (don’t just copy them from the job posting!), but incorporate the key words you highlighted.
  • This takes a little time but gets easier with experience—and is well worth it. See example below: look at the Requirements section in the sample job posting next to the Qualifications section in the sample tailored resume.

Choose experiences to include (from your master resume) that demonstrate the requirements the job is looking for

  • In your bullet points, again, incorporate the key words you highlighted. This keeps the resume in the employer’s language and makes it easy to digest quickly. See sample tailored resume below.

Example: job description with tailored résumé

Associate Editor, Washington

Cities Media - Seattle, WA 98109 (Queen Anne area)

TheCitiesMedia.com is currently looking for a motivated and passionate Associate EditorStart by highlighting key words in the job posting. Learn the language the employer speaks so you can use some in your materials! to join our rapidly expanding editorial team. The editor will play a major role in our growth in the Western United States with a focus on Seattle and Washington.

We are seeking a storyteller who loves Washington State and wants to express it through the creation of engaging, relatable, inspiring content.

Cities Media Editors are ambitious and independent thinkers who know what millennials care about. Our editors want Cities to be the best source of information for their communities, whether it’s breaking down new legislation, spotlighting extraordinary local figures and good deeds, or spreading the word about hidden waterfalls that everyone should visit once in their life.

Before applying, please visit our site to get a feel for what we’re looking for.


This is an entry-level contracted position (full-time). The position is based in Seattle, but the Associate Editor must be able to work closely with writers and editors across the country. Compensation will be commensurate with experience.


TheCitiesMedia.com’s goal is to inform, inspire, and entertain 18 to 39-year-olds about their world. We’re the top millennial publisher in Australia with 10 million unique users per month and we’re expanding to the U.S. this year.


  • Researching, assigning, editing, and occasionally writing articles
  • Responsible for the growth of users and pageviews in the state
  • Hiring, training and leading a team of writers
  • Ensuring all information is properly cited and factually accurate
  • Developing content strategies to ensure stable growth in your state
  • Analyzing data and analytics, and seeking to increase reader engagement and retention


  • Exceptional verbal and written English skills
  • 1 year of professional editing experience at a digital news publisher and a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism, Communications, or a related field
  • A passion for a mix of research, data & analytics, local news, and management
  • An obsession with tight deadlines and team brainstorming
  • The ability to spot catchy, unique, inspiring angles while staying true to the Cities voice


206-888-6653. garciaj@spu.edu | Seattle, WA. linkedin.com/josepgarcia


  • Excellent written and verbal English communication skills with diverse audiences.
  • 2+ years’ editing experience at 2 digital news publishers, including managing staff.
  • Extensive experience researching and analyzing publication data to grow readership.
  • Passion for Seattle-area news and delivering millennials engaging, inspiring content.
  • Strength for meeting tight deadlines, and working well both in teams and independently.
Take time to align this section carefully with the job description so employers will read on. Use their key words!"


Bachelor of Arts in Communication

June 20XX

Seattle Pacific University, Seattle, WA.

  • Minor in Business Administration | Overall GPA: 3.75.

Study Abroad

February - May 20XX

School for International Training, Dakar, Senegal.

  • Studied Senegalese arts and Wolof language, while living and successfully building relationships with local host family (all daily activities and coursework in French).
  • Completed 2-week independent study about life at men’s monastery, including 30-page report and presentation.


Seattle Weekly, Seattle, WA.

Dec 20XX-present

Digital Intern

  • Collaborate with digital editor to produce monthly digital content calendar for major weekly Seattle news and culture publication (primary audience ages 22-40).
  • Review site analytics with editor weekly, exploring strategies to grow engagement.
  • Brainstorm strategies with digital team of 6 weekly to produce relatable, inspiring content about Seattle life, particularly focused on millennials.
  • Edited site independently for one week, editing and uploading articles for 6 writers, composing headlines to SEO standards, managing social media (Twitter & Instagram).
  • Write 3-4 news, arts, and culture articles for SeattleWeekly.com each week, meeting all deadlines. Articles get average of 1,800 unique pageviews per week.

The Falcon: Seattle Pacific University’s Independent Student Newspaper, Seattle, WA.


September 20XX-present

  • Manage team of 18 writers for bi-weekly digital university newspaper, mentoring them to write engaging, relatable, clear content for student body, meeting all deadlines.
  • Examine site and social media analytics with staff weekly, developing content strategies to increase engagement and retention; have increased readership 15% during editorship.
  • Host bi-monthly 30-minute podcasts about major local issues affecting students.

News Editor

September 20XX-June 20XX

  • Managed news staff and edited engaging, relatable articles bi-weekly for 3-5 writers.


M.E.Ch.A at Seattle Pacific University, Vice President, Seattle, WA.

September 20XX-present

  • Managed activities for club promoting awareness and involvement in Spanish and Latino community and culture.

Rainier Youth Camp, Teen Boys Counselor, Seattle, WA.

Summers 20XX, 20XX

Is your résumé too short?

  • Consider adding Project Work: Have you taken courses in which you worked in a team to provide a presentation or other deliverable at the end, that’s relevant to the position you’re applying for? Give yourself an appropriate title (e.g., Project Manager, Data Analyst, or Lead Designer) and list what you did in bullet points. The organization is SPU. This can be included in your Relevant Experience section!
  • Consider adding Relevant Coursework: What courses have you taken that are relevant to the position you’re applying for? Consider adding a list at the bottom of your Education section.

Is your résumé too long?

  • Shorten your contact information by including your number, email, and/or LinkedIn URL all on one line. Separate content with tabs or | lines.
  • Check your formatting to narrow your margins (1/2 inch). Avoid “orphans” and “widows,” where a single word takes up an entire line. Use “+” to indicate “more than,” as in 200+ customers.
  • Leave off bullet descriptions for your Additional Experience section to devote the most attention to your Related Experience section
  • If you have a Volunteer Experience section, it may simply list the agencies or groups with which you’re involved, without bulleted descriptions of your work. Long lists of agencies may be broken into even columns, tabbed apart, so that six lines become three.