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Contact Information

Your name, mailing address, telephone number, and e-mail address should always be at the top of your resume. If you are still in school while sending resumes, you may want to include both your permanent contact information and your current contact information. If you are home for the summer, or sending resumes once you have graduated, one address will suffice.

Check out our Identifying Information video to learn more.

Examples:

Resume Contact Info

If you have a LinkedIn account or portfolio website, feel free to add the URL to your contact information as well. Don't have a LinkedIn account? Now's the time to learn more and create one.


Personal Data

Personal data, such as race, sex, height, marital status, and photographs, should not be included on your resume. It is illegal for employers to request this information, and more importantly, such data has nothing to do with your skills and qualifications. Some people do provide this information on their resume when applying for positions, such as flight attendant, actor, or fashion model, where the information is pertinent.

Objective

Your objective sets the tone for your resume and informs the reader of the opportunity you are seeking. It may include a job title you desire to have, a description of activities you want to perform, the goals you hope to achieve, the skills you bring to the table, the type of organization you wish to join, or a special interest you have in a particular field. Your objective should be tailored to each position that you apply for.

You may omit the objective from your resume, if you are unsure about the type of work you are seeking or you are applying for a variety of positions within the company. In this case, state your objective in a cover letter rather than your resume, like a thesis.

Check out our Objective Statement video to learn more.

Examples:

To obtain a position as a programmer or an analyst contributing my knowledge of the information systems field.

Seeking a position in the field of foreign relations that will utilize my knowledge and background in political science and Russian language and culture.

To acquire a financial services position within a banking organization utilizing analytical skills, language skills, and multinational experiences.

Education

Include all colleges and universities from which you have earned a degree. List the institutions in reverse chronological order with your most recent college or university first. Include the name and location of your college or university; type of degree and year earned; and major, minor, or concentration. You may include overall GPA as well as your major GPA, especially if it is an asset to your application. (Make sure that you understand how to calculate your GPA and our policies on ethical GPA practices.) If it is relevant, include any special training you have received that supports your candidacy, such professional certifications or licensures.

Check out our Education Section video to learn more.

Examples:

James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA
Bachelor of Arts; May 2014
Major: History; Minor: Political Science
Overall GPA: 3.4

James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA
Bachelor of Science, May 2015
Intelligence Analysis major, National Security concentration
Major GPA: 3.9; Overall GPA: 3.6

James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA
Master of Arts in Teaching, May 2013
Bachelor of Science, Interdisciplinary Liberal Studies, December 2009, Magna Cum Laude
Professional Licensure Program: Early Childhood Education


Honors

Provide information about any honors you have received such as scholarships, Dean’s List, President’s List, and memberships in honor societies. Include the dates you received these honors.   If you have less than three honor entries, list them under the education heading. If there are more, feel free to add another section to your resume, entitled “Honors” or “Awards”.

Coursework, Projects, and Skills

Related Coursework

You may list appropriate college coursework in your resume, especially if you are applying for a position that is less related to your major or the coursework is unique or specialized in the career field. For example, if you apply for a technical writing position but you majored in Biology, it would be advantageous to list some of the writing courses you have taken to highlight your skills.

You can create a separate section on your resume using the headings, “Related Coursework” or “Relevant Coursework,” or include your class listing under your education section. It is best to list the classes in a column format, so they are easier to read.

Check out our Related Coursework video to learn more.

Examples:

(From an Integrated Science & Technology major:)

Energy Coursework

  • Thermodynamics
  • Energy Economics and Politics
  • Domestic Energy Solutions
  • Sustainable/Renewable Energy

Biotechnology Coursework

  • Biotechnology in Industry and Agriculture
  • Cell Biology for Biotechnology
  • Biotechnology for the New Millennium
  • Ethical Implications of Biotechnology

(From an International Affairs major:)

Related Coursework: U.S. Foreign Policy, International Relations, Comparative Politics, Simulations in Middle East Security, Politics of Central and East Europe, U.S. Diplomatic History, International Economics, Cross-National Research Skills


Course Projects

You can describe a significant project from a course to explain your skills and knowledge in a certain area. To do so, you can create a separate section on your resume using the heading, “Course Projects,” or include your course project under your education or experience sections. It is best to use the name of the course rather than the course number.

Examples:

Integrated Functional Systems, COB 300, JMU, Fall 2013

  • Completed 12-hour comprehensive learning experience that combined disciplines of finance, marketing, management, and operations to develop a business plan for a fictitious start up business.
  • Directed marketing section, which focused on market research, opportunity analysis, market segmentation, positioning, promotional and distribution strategies, and budgets and sales forecasting.

Theatre and Film Course Work, JMU, Fall Semester 2013 - Present

  • Wrote, directed, and starred in an award winning student film.
  • Designed, mapped, and implemented stage lighting design for Angels in America, written by Tony Kushner.
  • Learned traditional and modern acting styles for the stage on basic and intermediate levels.
  • Studied stage costumes, makeup, and documentary story telling styles.
  • Wrote 12 formal film critiques for Film in Society class.

Integrated Marketing Communications Course Project, JMU, Spring 2014

  • Completed projects focusing on advertising, sales promotions, public relations, packaging, publicity, personal selling, direct marketing, and event sponsorship.
  • Created client-oriented projects and developed a marketing campaign for local business use with a team.

Skills

Information about special skills relevant to your job objective, such as computer or language proficiency, can enhance your resume. You can include this information in a separate section or as part of another section in your resume.

Check out our Skills & Activities video to learn more.

Examples:

Skills

  • Microsoft Office including Access, Excel, FrontPage, PowerPoint, and Word
  • Genesis (Lowe’s computer based inventory and order management system)
  • Conversant in Spanish

Experience and Activities

What to Include

Summarize your experiences by highlighting those that best reveal your transferable skills and relate to the types of opportunities you are seeking. You can include your experiences from the following types of positions:

  • Paid positions
  • Volunteer work
  • Internships
  • Academic experience and research
  • Student organizations

Include the title of your position or your role, the name of the organization, the location (i.e. city and state) of the organization, and the dates you worked at the organization.

Check out our Experience Section video to learn more.

Examples:

Customer Service Representative, Bank One, Arlington, VA                                                   Summer 2013

President, Delta Sigma Pi, JMU, Fall 2013-Spring 2014

University Health Center, James Madison University, REACH Peer Educator, August 2013-present


Describing Experiences
  • Be brief
  • Quantify if possible
  • Use strong action verbs when describing your experiences

Action Verbs

An action verb should be the first word after every bullet point that describes your experiences. If an action verb was to stand alone, it should be meaningful.

Examples:

Customer Service Representative, Bank One, Arlington, VA                                                   Summer 2013

  • Handled…

President, Delta Sigma Pi, JMU, Fall 2013-Spring 2014

  • Planned…

University Health Center, James Madison University, REACH Peer Educator, August 2013-present

  • Presented…

Review the Quintessential Careers’ list of action verbs by skill categories to help you expand and diversify the action verbs that you use on your resume.

Give specific examples of your accomplishments. Quantify them if possible to strengthen the impact of your message. You can say “supervised 12 employees” or “managed a $2,500 budget.”

Examples:

Customer Service Representative, Bank One, Arlington, VA                                                   Summer 2013

  • Handled more than $100,000 in banking transactions daily.
  • Answered customer inquiries, and resolved service concerns.
  • Recognized for surpassing monthly sales quota.

President, Delta Sigma Pi, JMU, Fall 2013-Spring 2014

  • Planned and implemented quarterly meetings with executive board of eight.
  • Maintained contact among 100 chapter members, advisor, and national headquarters.
  • Led planning for community service projects and fundraising events.

University Health Center, James Madison University, REACH Peer Educator, August 2013-present

  • Present three educational workshops each semester for students on health-related topics and services.
  • Collaborate with six student organizations to determine the needs of their organization and develop an effective program to address their needs.

Organizing Experiences

If you have several experiences that relate to the type of job you are seeking, you may list them under a separate categories rather than using one “Related Experience” heading.

Be creative, and don’t feel like you have to limit the content of your resume to headings you have seen in the past. If you have special information that supports your application, create a place for it. The format of your resume can also influence the types of headings you use to organize your experiences.

Examples:

Possible titles for experience sections, or “functional headings”,  include:

  • Relevant Experience
  • Additional Experience, or Related Experience
  • Leadership Experience
  • Research Experience
  • Health-Related Experience
  • Volunteer Experience
  • International Experience
  • Design Experience
  • Laboratory Experience
  • Writing Experience
  • Planning Experience
  • Field Work Experience
  • Teaching Experience

Possible titles for other sections of your resume include:

  • Objective
  • Education
  • Honors and Awards
  • Course Projects
  • Skills
  • Certifications and Licensure

Have you had experience overseas? If so, visit our Market Your International Experience page to explore how to best communicate your experience in an interview or resume. 

References

References are best presented on a separate page. Before listing someone as a reference, you must seek his or her permission first to confirm this person is comfortable with providing you a strong reference and is aware that he or she will be contacted to support your application.

Think of faculty, supervisors, advisors, and other individuals that you work with and will give you a positive recommendation. For the most part, references should not be from family or friends unless you’ve worked together in a professional capacity.

On the reference sheet, include each reference’s name, title, address, phone number, and e-mail. You should also include your relationship to the reference, such as “Former Supervisor” or “University Professor.” At the top of your reference page, include the name and address heading from your resume so the documents match in style.

Sample References Page

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