Best Practices for Writing Your Resume

Resume writing can be challenging. With all the information out there it’s hard to know which sources are giving you the best tips on how to be successful, especially when they can contradict themselves. So, how do you stand out while following industry conventions at the same time? Lucky for you, the Greene Center has compiled a list of the best practices for telling your story through a resume!

Consistency and professionalism

It’s important to make consistent style choices throughout your resume. This means that throughout all sections, you format every headline and description in the same exact way. For example, if your bullet points in your experience descriptions end in periods, make sure ALL of them have periods (even in your education section). The opposite is true as well. If you decide to omit periods, that’s fine—as long as you’re consistent! Small details like these are what set you apart, and make your resume more readable. In the theme of consistency, you should make sure that your title font, size, and spacing is the same as well. For example, if you decide to capitalize the entire section title, check to make sure you do this for all your sections.

But not all resumes have the same rules! Depending on your industry, there might be some field-specific style choices potential employers are looking for. For example, if you’re using your resume for a consulting or business/marketing position, make sure to check out this resume example. The business industry in particular is very nit-picky, so make sure you’re following the industry conventions for your resume. On the other hand, if you’re trying to break into design or digital media, then your resume can look a little different. Unlike other fields, the physical design of the resume is also an example of your work! You have an opportunity to let your creativity shine here, but be careful not to do anything that hinders the readability of your resume though. You can look at this template to see an acceptable format for your resume.

This can be tricky to navigate. If you have any questions about your resume—or just want some extra guidance—you can always make an appointment with an advisor on Handshake or come in for drop-in hours!


The aesthetics of a resume are a great way to give a strong first impression. Since hiring managers don’t typically have a lot of time to review a resume, the ‘feel’ of your resume can stand out. In order to have a pleasing resume, the font should be consistent throughout your document and should be recognized as generally professional. Unfortunately, this means fonts like Comic Sans are out. This also means no funky colors, and absolutely no pictures!

Even for graphic design students, you’ll notice that the template above lacks colors and images. As employers start using AI screening tools such as applicant tracking systems (ATS), potential employees need to make sure their resumes will make sense to those machines. Alternatively, you can have two resumes: one optimized for readability (that you submit in the resume section of an application) and one to showcase your design skills (that you submit as an extra document in your application).

Pictures are a sure way to get your resume rejected if passed through an ATS. You can read more about how these systems work and what resources the Greene Center has to help you navigate them here.

Section essentials

It’s important to have some main sections that all employers will want to see. These include: “education,” “experience,” “activities and leadership experience,” and “skills.” In your education section, you should include information about your major/minor/relevant clusters, academic accolades, and experience studying abroad. Your experience section can include anything you think is relevant to the position you’re applying to: research, volunteer work, or summer jobs and internships. Your activities and leadership section can contain information about your involvement with student organizations or extracurricular activities. Finally, your skills section should include technical, often 9but not always) quantifiable skills like computer software knowledge, foreign language competencies, and specific laboratory skills that will be useful for the position. For those in the humanities, the skill section might include understanding of programs like Google Suite or Microsoft Office, and relevant “soft skills.”

If you have room, some other sections you can include as added bonuses are “coursework and projects,” “honors and awards,” or “summary of qualifications.” These are all additional sections that can enhance your resume and distinguish you from other applicants, but they aren’t necessary. If you feel like you’re able to tell your story with just the essentials, go for it!

Font size and margins

This section goes along with aesthetics. If you’re running into the issue where you have too much on your resume, it might be better to consider honing in on a few of your key experiences, rather than messing with the margins and font to cram it all in. You’ll always have the opportunity to talk about your additional experiences in a cover letter, or during the interview process. Employers don’t have much time to read through your resume, and if there’s too much information they might miss the most important stuff. We recommend keeping your margins between 0.5in – 1in and your font between 10pt-12pt. A curriculum vitae (CV) is the place to really elaborate on your experience and include things you may not have the space to include on a resume.


Those are some of the main things to consider when writing your resume! I hope these tips help you when telling your story through your resume. You can also check out Quinncia for help with getting your resume through an ATS! As always, feel free to stop by drop-in hours or make an appointment with an advisor on Handshake to get industry-specific feedback on your application materials.

By Nandini Samanta ('22)
Nandini Samanta ('22) Peer Career Advisor