A resume is a clear and concise professional document written to provide a brief snapshot of your most relevant accomplishments, qualities, and interests. Expect to adapt each resume to the perspective of your anticipated reader and accompany it with a cover letter.
Steps to Success
Research and learn some professional resume basics and begin a first draft.
Use these Career Center resources to get you started:
OptimalResume has built-in guidelines and advice and is a good place to start your resume or CV.
- Use the active rather than passive voice.
- Begin with a strong, active verb that best represents what you contributed.
- Use present tense for current activities and past tense for past activities.
- Avoid the phrases “responsible for” or “duties include.”
- Prioritize sections based on most relevant information first.
- Write section headings based on tailoring them to the position. For example, “Work Experience”
- becomes “Research Experience,” while another section could be “Additional Employment Experience.”
- Within your bullets, organize these descriptors so that the most relevant appear first.
- Maintain sufficient white space to make it easily readable and uncluttered, while still including thorough descriptions of your experiences.
- Be consistent with styling and formatting throughout all sections of the resume as you use bold, CAPS, italics, and underlining.
- Place important information toward the top of the document, because HR managers often scan resumes quickly. These sections include Education, Relevant Experience, and/or Leadership Experience.
- Each section should be organized in reverse chronological order.
- Use readable font, such as Cambria, Calibri, Times New Roman, Garamond, or Arial.
- Font should be size 10, 11, or 12 point and easy to read.
- Your name should be 16+ font size, in bold, and NOT in caps.
- Margins should be in the range of .5” to 1” on all four sides.
- Use numbers instead of writing them out, for example, use 5 instead of five.
- Use black ink.
- Don’t include tables to organize the document.
- Avoid personal pronouns in the resume.
- Don’t use full sentences or paragraphs to describe your experiences.
- Keep your resume to one page in length.
- Proofread to avoid spelling or grammatical errors.
- Coursework must be relevant to the position. Irrelevant courses or standard courses expected of a student with the stated major should not be listed.
- Evaluate your language skills honestly, using words such as “beginner,” “intermediate,” “advanced,” or “native proficiency.” You can separate your experience between written and conversational aptitude.
- Technical skills should include your level of proficiency with language such as “proficient in” and “familiar with.”
- A photo is not recommended on a resume. For LinkedIn profiles, a photo of you in professional
attire is common.
- If printing the document, use white or ivory resume paper.
- References should be on a separate page, so don’t make them a part of the resume. Do repeat your contact information at the top of the reference page.
Improving Your Active Verbs
Wells Fargo, Investment Banking Summer Analyst, New York, NY Summer 2015
- Received an offer to return full-time with the Syndicated Leveraged Finance Natural Resource Group
- Conducted a credit comparable analysis for a clean energy company and 5 of its peers as part of an Investor Presentation for a joint IPO and $800M high yield note offering
- Analyzed costs and benefits of 3 debt financing options, including an asset-backed loan, a term loan, and a bond offering for a technology company considering a share repurchase
GLOBAL HEALTH MAJORS UNION, Vice President Jan 2016-Present
- Launched monthly resume workshops for global health majors through leveraging contacts at the Duke Career Center
- Built a mentorship program connecting underclassmen with upperclassmen to assist with course registration
- Preside over 4 committees and liaise with faculty, professionals, and graduate-level students to facilitate planning and execution of 5 educational and vocational global health programs
Duke University Marching and Pep Band – President (2015-2016), Duke University Fall 2013-Present
- Oversee all aspects of the organization including budgeting, planning, and developing band policy in collaboration with the director and officers, lead bi-weekly meetings with the 25-person leadership team
- Serve as principal student liaison between Duke administration and our 135 members
- Developed and implemented strategies to improve member recruitment and retention; updated website and developed social media marketing plan; increased membership by 28% and social media followers by 17%
Shadowing Physicians, Boston, MA May 2014-Present
- Observed 75 hours of surgical procedures, patient consultations, and medical staff meetings to build first-hand understanding of successful patient care; developed a strong interest and foundation in the biomedical field
Undergraduate Research Associate, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC February 2013-Present
Project: Protein X Regulation of Protein Y localization for antiviral innate immunity
How does the localization of protein Y, a central innate immune adaptor, impact its function and its role in the antiviral response?
- Developed and implemented strategy to address research question in collaboration with PI and graduate supervisor
- Optimized project-specific protocols for qRT-PCR, PCR, siRNA Knockouts, Western Blots, Luciferase Assays, Immunofluorescence, and Microscopy
- Compiled and analyzed all data output in STATA to evaluate significance of experimental results; developed comprehensive lab reports summarizing protocol and findings to support future research
Caretake, Inc., Technical Co-Founder & Software Engineer, Durham NC Summer 2015-Present
- Serve as a founding engineer of a start-up that supplies a network of mobile caretakers for healthcare clients through a RESTful API; communicate extensively with the CEO and client to actualize non-technical specs
- Designed a scalable system with a mobile driver front-end that communicates with a server and API, which then communicates with clients, while keeping flexibility and agile development methodologies in mind
- Implemented the entire technical platform, from the API/back-end to the web/iOS front-end, in RoR and iOS, while also learning new technologies, gems and libraries like the Stripe API, cURL, Alamofire and more
Omega Tau Beta Fraternity, Social and Brotherhood Chair, Duke University Spring 2014-Present
- Organized monthly social activities and contributed to multiple committees while interacting and communicating with a culturally, ethnically, religiously and socio-economically diverse group of 30 gentlemen
Broadridge Financial Solutions – Sales and Marketing Intern, New York, New York Summer 2014
- Led the overhaul of the Salesforce.com archives and updated client information for senior sales executives
- Created PowerPoint presentations and surveys to assist Sales team’s strategy and training for offsite conference
- Tested the new internal website before launch and reported bugs to the Digital Marketing Team
- Coordinated and executed an English as a Second Language Program; instructed employees twice a week
Duke Athletic Academic Services, French Tutor Jul 2014-Present
- Tutor 3 student-athletes in elementary and intermediate levels of French grammar, composition and conversation
- Increased students’ grades from C- to B+ through designing and implementing individualized tutoring strategies
Community Consulting, Project Leader, Duke University Sept 2013 –May 2014
- Consulted for Feedbax, a business comment card start-up, in areas such as competitive benchmarking, consumer segmentation, marketing strategy, and best practices analysis
- Directed a team of 4 associates and corresponded with the client to meet deliverable deadlines
Business Oriented Women, Vice President of Membership May 2013 –May 2014
- Led the recruitment process by marketing to potential members, managing the application process, and leading deliberations, resulting in an increase in applications from 70 to 114
- Pioneered the first new member retreat, planned logistics and led activities to facilitate new member networking
- Performed outreach to recruit speakers, plan weekly general body meetings, and track attendance of 150+ members
As you begin your job search or consider careers that would be right for you, it is important to know what you are good at and what you enjoy doing. Over the years you have developed many skills from coursework, extracurricular activities, internships, jobs and your total life experiences. If you’ve researched, written, edited and presented papers for classes, you’ve used skills that are not limited to any one academic discipline or knowledge area but are transferable to many occupations.
Review the following lists and note all the skills you have. Then write down the 10 skills you would enjoy using most. With each, include a brief example of how you have demonstrated that skill in a job, class, internship, or extracurricular activity. You can refer back to this as you consider career options and prepare for a job search and interviews.
HOW: Led the Business Oriented Women (BOW) recruitment process by marketing to potential members; resulting in an increase in applications from 70 to 114.
Attend to social, physical or mental needs of people
- providing care
- conveying feelings
- interpersonal skills
- facilitating group process
- active listening
- developing rapport
- persuading others
- being patient
Design & Problem Solving
Imagine the future, develop a process for creating it
- creating images
- designing programs
- brainstorming new ideas
- thinking visually
- anticipating consequences of action
- creating innovative solutions
- defining problems
- identifying possible causes
Exchange, transmission and expression of knowledge and ideas
- speaking effectively
- listening attentively
- expressing ideas
- facilitating discussion
- providing appropriate feedback
- perceiving nonverbal messages
- describing feelings
- working in a team
- making presentations
- thinking on one’s feet
- dealing with public
Direct and guide a group in completing tasks and attaining goals
- initiating new ideas
- making decisions
- solving problems
- meeting deadlines
- coordinating tasks
- assuming responsibility
- setting priorities
- interpreting policy
- resolving conflict
- determining policy
- giving directions
Research & Planning
The search for specific knowledge
- setting goals
- analyzing ideas
- analyzing data
- defining needs
- extracting important information
- gathering information
- formulating hypotheses
- calculating and comparing
- developing theory
- identifying resources
- critical thinking
- predicting and forecasting
How do your skills and qualities match with what is important to employers?
According to the 2012 National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Job Outlook Survey, the top 10 qualities/skills employers seek are transferable skills.
1. Verbal communication skills
2. Strong work ethic
3. Teamwork skills (works well with others)
4. Analytical skills
6. Problem-solving skills
7. Written communication skills
8. Interpersonal skills (relates well to others)
9. Computer skills
Viewing Job: 11769/Strategy Consulting Analyst
Sample, Inc., a leading strategy and marketing consultancy, is seeking a driven, self-motivated Analyst to join our
NEW YORK CITY team of entrepreneurial thinkers who are looking to change the marketing landscape for our
Our Analysts play a key role in delivering on our client engagements, assisting in executive interviews, conducting both primary and secondary research, preparing deliverables, and helping to present brand strategies to clients such as McDonald’s, P&G, Jaguar/Land Rover, Anheuser-Busch InBev, and Capital One. As part of a client team, you will be working with Strategists, Directors, and a Partner to ensure that our ideas are flawlessly presented and inspiring to both our clients and the broader marketing community.
- Undergraduate degree from a top-tier university
- 0-1 year of professional experience: field is less important than what you learned from it and how you apply it in the world. Analysts who have thrived have come from management consulting, banking, the law, branding/marketing, and market research
- Strong project management skills and ability to juggle multiple projects
- Demonstrated leadership skills
- Strong business acumen and critical thinking skills
- Love of, and good nose for, brands and marketing
- Impeccable interpersonal and communication skills, written and verbal
- Huge personal impact and ability to influence
In addition to those qualifications, one of the key things we at Sample, Inc. have in common is the ability to tie together disparate pieces of information (from social media, from SEC filings, from keen observation) into a compelling story. The ideal candidate will bring a unique blend of both left brain (analytical) and right-brain (creative) skills to bear on our client’s problems: someone who is as comfortable in building a model in Excel as he or she is designing a workshop to engage with clients. Our approach to solving problems requires that level of fluidity.
For a relentless, visionary, and centered thinker who thrives on feedback and challenge, this is an unparalleled opportunity for both personal and professional growth.
- Creative problem solving skills
- Ability to leverage both qualitative and quantitative analysis
- High level of comfort with navigating ambiguous questions
- Passion for marketing, strategy, and brands
Look at a number of resumes to build your familiarity with how young professionals effectively communicate their accomplishments.
Start with our Resume Examples.
Studies have shown that recruiters spend an average of six seconds per resume.**
A summary statement is an opportunity to convey information quickly to the reader. However, these statements are not commonly used by undergraduate students. Since the summary is the opening to your resume, it’s the first opportunity to communicate who you are and why the hiring committee should choose you over other job applicants. Through carefully chosen words, your summary should indicate your desired area of work AND demonstrate the relevant value you bring to the position. For undergraduates, it is generally best to present this information in your cover letter.
When You Should Consider Using a Summary Statement
Explaining a career shift or connecting professional experiences
Demonstrating a multidisciplinary set of skills that make you a strong candidate for the job/internship
Highlighting personal traits and skills; demonstrating how you will bring value to the company
For undergraduate students, we recommend you consult with a career adviser before using a summary statement.
When You Don’t Need a Summary Statement
If you’re applying for a very technical position or have been working in the same field for a while, you may be better served by using the space to expand upon your education, experience, or skills sections.
What to Call This Section
Much like the section headers on your resume, there is no one right way to label the category of summary statement. Common terms include:
- Professional Summary
- Summary of Qualifications
- Key Skills
- Key Qualifiers
Avoid the term “objective,” as your objective should be evident—to get the job to which you’ve applied.
A summary statement should be two to three sentences that effectively outline what value you would bring to the position and organization to which you are applying. See the next page for examples.
- Start by saying who you are. Who are you in terms of profession and job? Even if you’ve only been in school, you may be training as an educator, scholar, analyst, or researcher.
- Provide context. Why is your experience relevant? This will probably include several industry-specific terms and keywords.
- Demonstrate how you’re unique. What strengths do you have? What makes you different from other people in your program? What evidence do you have for these traits?
Some summary statements may include bullet points after a sentence or two. This is certainly acceptable, but be sure to make them succinct.
- Generic: your summary statement should not be the same as someone else’s. What personal traits or unique perspectives do you offer?
- E.g., “Engineer with experience in machine learning and Python/Java/R.”
- Self-focused: avoid personal pronouns (I, me, my) and stating what you can gain.
- E.g., “I’m looking for a position where I can learn and grow as a professional.”
- Vague: a summary statement should indicate your target industry or at least the key skills
- needed in that field. It should be tailored to each job you apply to.
- E.g., “Experienced writer and editor, looking to apply communication skills in this field.”
** Eye Tracking Online Metacognition: Cognitive Complexity and Recruiter Decision Making. Will Evans, Head of User Experience Design, TheLadders. 2012. https://cdn.theladders.net/static/images/basicSite/pdfs/TheLadders-EyeTracking-StudyC2.pdf
Below are several examples for summary statements. Note the bolded phrases, which you can use as building blocks for your professional summary, but be sure to make your summary fit you.
Award-winning poet and creative writer offering extensive storytelling, event planning, and museum curation experience. Driven to engage public audiences in artistic appreciation, conversation, and participation.
Software engineer with a keen eye for human behavior. Dedicated to helping companies gain a competitive edge by developing and implementing intuitive technology that responds to customers’ needs.
Summary of Qualifications
- Engaging communicator with 6+ years of progressive experience in education, group facilitation, and community development
- Strong public speaking, teaching, and training skills for a wide variety of audiences
- Proven ability to juggle multiple projects while adhering to strict deadlines
Biochemist with 10+ years of laboratory and research experience. Adept at translating technical results in business settings; thrives in a fast-paced, hands-on environment.
Dynamic educator with a passion for North Carolina stories. Trained in research methodology, pedagogy, and maximizing the use of technology in the classroom.
Results-oriented data analyst driven to provide technological solutions to human problems. Experienced at helping Fortune 500 companies reimagine customer service interactions. Proven success in implementing strategies to draw in a 20 percent increase in qualified leads.
Policy-minded architect, focused on improving physical spaces in public schools. Skilled at data analysis, grant writing, and managing projects with diverse stakeholders. Recognized for creative solutions and environmentally-driven designs in a team-based environment.
Accomplished researcher and economic analyst with seven years of experience focusing on commercial and retail banking. Adept at combining in-depth knowledge of industry practices and legal requirements with analytical expertise, strategic negotiation, and skillful relationship building to secure new and repeat funding sources. Earned top graduate researcher award from pool of 750 students.
Accomplished data science professional with deep expertise in artificial intelligence and machine learning in healthcare. Expert in integrating, mining, and analyzing key data sources for life science companies to increase ROI on marketing campaigns. Successful track record building global data science teams and analytical products using structured and unstructured data sources.
Collaborative geneticist with a passion for uncovering insights from large complex data sets and implementing new data-driven strategies. Effective team leader with exemplary skills in mentoring and managing groups of diverse individuals.
Adaptable environmentalist and urban planner highly skilled at developing solution-focused strategic plans for cities and municipalities. Proven success building cross-functional teams and pushing the boundaries of space planning. Specialties include urban design research, streetscape design, and mixed-use planning.
International resume and CV writing guidelines created by country. Many have examples.
Examples for graduate students considering non-academic careers (provided by The Graduate School)
Get feedback on your works in progress from many people, including the Career Center.
Attend a resume workshop.
Check the events calendar during the fall and spring semesters to find opportunities to practice converting your own experiences into powerful resume language.
Career Events in CareerConnections
**Sanford Public Policy students developing a resume for your major required internship, refer to the Public Policy Resume Checklist for specific requirements. Please create an account in the Sanford Career Link and go to the document library to find the checklist and specific resume writing resources.