How do you get started on a resume?

Because all of us have had unique experiences and opportunities, each person’s resume will be different in both structure and content.

The guidelines below can help you get started identifying and organizing your own skills and experiences.


Reflect on your past experiences and skills
  • make a list of everything you’ve done (jobs, internships, research, etc.)
  • identify experiences that reflect transferable skills — skills that you’ve developed in a specific context that are transferable to other situations or tasks
Design your resume for a specific application
  • examine the description of the job, internship, or program
  • read the description while focusing on the role itself and the skills required
  • take a moment to answer the following questions:
    • what will the person in the role do? which of your past experiences have prepared you for the role?
    • what skills are required for the position, and which of those skills do you already have? what have you done that shows you have those skills?
Write a first draft
  • choose headings (education, work experience, etc.) to organize your information
  • write several descriptive bullet points below each experience
    • begin each bullet with an action verb
    • do not use “responsible for” or “duties included”
    • write in the active voice
      • YES: implemented a new system
      • NO: was responsible for implementing a new system
Create bullet points with impact

Write bullet points that describe the outcome of your work and how it benefitted the organization.

Desk Worker, St. Olaf College Recreational Center Fall 2012-Present
  • Cleaning the fitness room, weight room, and track area
  • Help locals get or renew membership cards
  • Responsible for recording attendance at Tostrud
Recreation Desk Staff, St. Olaf College Fall 2012-Present
  • Clean the fitness room, weight room, and track area in order to main a safe and hygienic facility
  • Promote membership to community members and renew membership of existing members
  • Record and track attendance using Excel; prepare monthly summary report for Recreation Center manager
Drop in to the Piper Center and meet with a Peer Advisor to review your first draft.
Next, book an appointment with a Career Coach in your chosen field for industry-specific advice and final revisions.