Making It Happen

Resumes 101:

Putting it Together

Your resume and cover letter are often the first contact you have with a prospective employer. The Center for Career Development can help you translate your academic and work experiences into relevant content for your resume, critique your existing draft, and provide you with important strategies for constructing your cover letters.

Make the best possible impression by carefully crafting your message. Check out our interactive guide (Anatomy of a Resume), watch our Resume Basics Webinar, or attend a workshop to get started. Once you have a draft, stop by our office anytime during review hours with a copy of your resume for helpful feedback; no appointment necessary.

Creating Your Resume

Creating a resume is a process. You might go through several drafts before hitting on one that effectively displays your skills and experience. Keep in mind, this starter resume will be your foundation. When you apply for specific positions, you’ll tailor it to make sure you are highlighting the most relevant aspects.

Though the task might seem overwhelming, once you get the hang of it, it’s fairly straightforward. We strongly recommend that you take the time to create your own format rather than turning to pre-packaged templates, which can lock you into a rigid form that may make it hard to showcase your experience in the best way. Further, templates can be difficult to adjust, update, or customize.

Word to the Wise:

Consider creating two or more versions of your resume that could be used in different situations. This is a common practice to display different areas of expertise.

Getting Started

  • First, list your skills and experience.
  • Start brainstorming and making notes. Write down every position you’ve had (paid or unpaid), organizations to which you’ve belonged, leadership positions, special projects you’ve initiated, honors or awards, languages you speak, computer skills, special interests or hobbies, travel, or anything else significant. Not all of these are likely to be included in your final version, but a running list of your skills and experience can help you craft and tailor a resume for any opportunity.

  • Then, clarify your career goals and objectives.
  • Review the descriptions of internships or jobs that interest you. A great source is BU CareerLink, where employers post thousands of internship and job opportunities and new ones are added daily. Reflect on what you’d like to do, possible career paths that interest you, or experiences you’d like to explore. Identify different skills and objectives among the postings that might match or complement yours.

  • Next, put yourself in the employer’s shoes.
  • Think about what a hiring manager would look for in an intern or employee. Highlight which skills and qualifications might be required to be successful.

  • Then, revisit your skills and experience list.
  • Think about the items that most closely relate to the type of internship or job you want. Which ones demonstrate the kinds of skills outlined in the posting? Now, select those items that highlight your experience and relate your qualifications to the position as you imagine it in the mind of the employer. Don’t screen out too much. Include major items even if they don’t seem immediately related. You now have the basic items for your resume.

  • Finally, organize your items into categories.
  • Categories could include highlighted qualifications, education, experience, skills, languages, and awards. If you want to emphasize your skills rather than positions held, you could organize your experience by skill sets; for example: writing/editing, design, technical, customer service, leadership. (If you think of additional items along the way, by all means add them.) Your aim is to highlight and present your skills and experience in a way that bolsters your candidacy for a particular position. Be specific and make the right conclusions easy to draw. Don’t expect the employer to read between the lines.

Note: While some countries and cultures have different standards, in the United States, it’s important not to include certain things on your resume such as: age, photos (unless requested), marital status, health, nationality or ethnicity, religion, salary requirements, and references. Some of these things might be gleaned from other information such as your activities and memberships. That’s okay, but don’t explicitly state something that could potentially be discriminatory information.