Resumes for Undergraduate Dummies, Part I

Welcome, or welcome back, to the University of Chicago! We hope you’ve been settling into classes and campus life well. As you begin to adjust to life in college, you may be consumed with looming paper deadlines and juggling a new schedule, but remember, keep your eye on long-term goals too. In order to apply for academic year and summer opportunities, keep track of your achievements and develop a resume that you will continue to edit as college continues.

What is a resume? A resume is a snapshot of your educational and occupational experiences and skills that you have developed. Resumes are used to screen applicants and determine which candidates have the background most closely matching the employers’ needs. It answers the questions: “have you”, “can you”, and “will you do the job.”.

Before writing a resume, you should:
-Do your research on the industry, field, company/organization, and the job itself in order to fully understand what the employer is seeking
-Learn to speak the employer’s “language” – pay attention to vocabulary while researching
-Learn about trends that are developing within the industry
-Identify the core skills required to do the job – highlight and emphasize your relevant experiences and skills accordingly. Don’t be afraid to tailor your resume and alter it based on the job you’re applying to. A resume has limited space, and you should be highlighting the most relevant aspects of yourself for the particular position.

To craft a successful resume, you should:
-Quickly and succinctly capture an employer’s attention and interest. Most employers spend only 30 seconds reviewing a resume.
-Emphasize and quantify accomplishments rather than just listing responsibilities. Be specific. For example: “designed and delivered 20 math tutoring lessons to a group of seven fifth grade students” is much better than “worked as a fifth grade tutor”
-Incorporate transferable skills, i.e. skills you’ve acquired in one context or situation that are valuable in another. For example, communication skills, teamwork, organizational abilities, etc. Be specific about how your experience led to acquiring these skills. Don’t just randomly list them.

Resume Dos:
-Be specific, and quantify whenever possible
-Proofread multiple times for proper grammar, spelling, etc. Spellcheck is far from foolproof!
-Be consistent with formatting
-Organize the information in your resume in reverse chronological order
-Pay close attention to verb tenses in your bullets
-Keep your resume to one page
-Be truthful about your accomplishments without undervaluing your experiences

Resume Don’ts:
-Use resume templates from word processing programs
-Use phrases such as “responsible for” or “in charge of”
-Say what you were supposed to do
-Begin bullets with “I” or use complete sentences
-Include personal information such as your social security number, age, or nation of origin
-List unrelated minor duties such as “opened mail”, “made photocopies,”, or “filed documents”
-Limit yourself by including only paid experiences
-Lie or exaggerate – these things can and will catch up to you!!!

Stay tuned for Resumes for Undergraduate Dummies Part II! In the mean time, if you come up with a draft of your resume, do not hesitate to make an appointment atopp Career Advancement by calling 773-702-7040 or online at to have your resume reviewed by a counselor!

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One response to “Resumes for Undergraduate Dummies, Part I

  1. Pingback: Happy (Belated) Halloween | Career Advancement·

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