Resume Writing

Creating a clear, organized, and tailored resume is the first step to standing out as a qualified applicant.

This page will help you understand the components of a resume, key formatting tips, and how to write strong sections that will catch a hiring manager’s attention! It is important to remember that your resume is unique to you and not all aspects of this page will apply to your experiences or career goals.

Your Academic & Career Advisor is always happy to assist you with your resume writing process!

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Resume Writing Resources

Formatting Tips

There are many basic formatting rules that should be followed when creating a resume. Hiring managers review hundreds of resumes and want to find the important information quickly and efficiently.

While a unique and creative resume may catch the eye, hiring managers are accustomed to quickly scanning the common resume format and finding the information they need. Experience is everything! So focus on making your resume clear, organized, and easy for the reader to find.

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Resume Length

Generally, your resume should be 1-2 pages: 1 page for people with less experience and 2 pages when you have enough relevant experience to justify a second page.

There are certain exceptions to this rule for various industries. Your AC Advisor is happy to help you strategize which length is best for you!

Font Sizes & Types

Use ONE font style and size 10pt-12pt for everything besides your name, and be conservative with bolding and underlining.

Common font styles include Arial, Calibri, Times New Roman, and Georgia.

Page Margins

Margins should be 0.5 inches to 1 inch on all sides.

Before moving to a 2 page resume, it is recommended that you change your margins to 0.5 inches to maximize the space on your first page.

Colors of Fonts & Shapes

Avoid using colors – especially for things you want to stand out. Believe it or not, many hiring managers still print resumes to review. If you make your most important information a colored font to stand out, it prints as grey and ends up standing out less than black font.

Resume Section Organization

For students and recent graduates, education is commonly listed first, followed by experience. The organization of any additional sections after that is up to you!

Students with relevant professional experience can make the decision to have experience listed before education.

Learn more about resume sections in the following section of this page.

Organizing your Experiences

Experience should be listed in reverse-chronological order, meaning your most recent experiences, education, etc, should be highest in their sections.

Sections of a Resume

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Name & Contact Information

All resumes begin with your name at the top of your resume in a large, bold font (typically size 18-22pt).

In addition to that, you have the choice of what contact information to include. It is expected that you include your phone number and email, but address, personal Linkedin URL, and other contact methods are optional.

example of contact information on footer of resume

Education Section

Your education section should list ALL higher education degrees you have completed or are currently pursuing. If you no longer attend an institution and did not earn a degree from there, it should NOT be listed (aside from very specific circumstances).

Required Education Components:

  • Full Degree & Major – ex: Bachelor of Science: Personal Finance
  • Full Institution Name & City – University of Wisconsin–Madison | Madison, WI
  • Estimated Graduation Date (do not list date started) – May 2024

Optional Education Components:

  • Relevant Coursework
  • GPA & Academic Honors (Dean’s List)
  • Study Abroad Experiences

Below, you will find an example of a UW–Madison student’s education section on a resume.

example of education listed on resume

Experience Section(s)

The experience section is the most flexible part of your resume. While people traditionally called this section “Work Experience”, resumes have moved away from that rigid structure to be more broadly called “Experience”.  By breaking away from only including work experience, an experience section allows you to include any and all relevant experiences such as:

  • Work Experience
  • Relevant Projects (Personal, Educational, or Professional)
  • Volunteer Experience
  • Leadership Positions

It is up to you to conduct an inventory of everything you have done thus far in your life. After doing this, you can begin organizing it into one or more experience sections. A general guideline to keep in mind is that if you would bring up an experience in a cover letter or interview, it needs to be listed on your resume.

experience example on resume

Optional Sections

Based on your experiences, you may have additional sections such as:

  • Leadership & Involvement – Can include membership in educational, professional, or recreational organizations.
  • Skills – Should only include technical and hard skills.
  • Volunteer Experience – Should only include substantial volunteer experiences unless highly relevant. One time volunteer experiences rarely should be included.

Avoid Summary & Objective Statements

These sections once had value when people submitted resumes more broadly or dropped them off at businesses. Today, resumes are submitted online and attached directly to a specific job posting. With only 10 seconds to review a resume, hiring managers typically skip reading these sections because they are concerned with seeing your experiences right away.

Additionally, these sections are often redundant and state information that is already on your resume. Removing these statements is an easy way to save space.

Tailoring Your Resume

While it may be easier to use the same resume to apply for every job, it is often not the best strategy. This may work for some individuals with very focused job searches, but if you are applying to a variety of roles that value different skill sets or experiences, it is important to tailor your resume to those roles.

There are many different ways to tailor your resume to a role or job function. The goal of doing this is to make your most relevant and marketable experiences and information as easy for the hiring manager to find as possible.  Below, you will find some of the ways people choose to tailor their resume.

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Specific Experience Sections

Rather than simply have “Experience” with everything you have ever done under it, many people have multiple experience sections that group their similar experiences together. For example, someone may have a “Customer Service Experience”, and a “Project Management Experience” section.  This would be a strong resume for a role that values those two skill sets and backgrounds. Any experiences that do not fit under there and are not relevant enough to warrant a specific title can be housed under an “Additional Experience” section (see example below).


Tailored Bullet Points

Before submitting an application, strong candidates will go through the job posting and make sure that their resume clearly features a bullet point that addresses as many skills and qualifications as possible. This may involve rewriting bullet points to feature skills that were not highlighted clearly enough. Especially important skills should even be moved to the top of a list of bullet points to ensure the hiring manager sees it.

Writing Strong Bullet Points

Many people think bullet points on a resume simply need to list the exact tasks and duties of the experience. While this is an important component of a strong bullet point, there is much more that goes into writing a strong bullet point.

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Anatomy of the Bullet Point


Strong bullet points often include some or all of the following components:

  • Action Verb: This is REQUIRED. Every bullet point should start with an action verb. Present tense for an experience you are still currently doing, and past tense for those you have already completed. Examples of action verbs include (Created, Develop, Manage, Collaborated, etc).
  • What You Did: This is the task you were actually completing
  • How You Did It: Here is your time to highlight those soft or technical skills. Did you communicate across multiple teams? Did you use Adobe Photoshop?
  • Why You Did It: Tell us the purpose of you doing that task.
  • Result: How did you doing this task positively impact the organization?

Examples of good bullet points becoming GREAT bullet points!

Good Bullet Points Great Bullet Points
Expanded communication skills through collaboration with other employees Collaborated effectively with 8 colleagues to develop communication procedures resulting in decreased merchandise order errors by 10%
Developed organizational and leadership abilities by leading committee meetings Led bi-weekly committee meetings of 8 members by facilitating discussions and monitoring goal progression
Attended bi-weekly sessions to become a Leadership Ambassador Participated in bi-weekly professional development sessions on leadership, teamwork, and goal-setting that led to certification as a Leadership Ambassador

Resume Template

While we do not recommend using pre-created templates you find online or through word processing programs, our team has created a template that may work well for you. Clicking the button below will download a word document version of a resume template we recommend starting from.

This resume template will contain information and sections that may not apply to you, so feel free to adjust as needed. Any information in brackets and italics should be removed, as it is only for your reference as you make the resume. We recommend using Microsoft Word to create your resume. Microsoft Word is free for all currently enrolled UW-Madison Online students.

Download the Resume Template