Components of a great résumé

By Joelle Harms, Senior Digital Media Content Producer


It’s most important to set yourself apart form other applicants. You both will most likely have similar backgrounds, so use the tips below to make yourself stand out.

  • Writing style and appearance play a large role in an employer picking your résumé out of a pool of applicants. For jobs you currently hold, use active words like “analyze” and “train” as opposed to “analyzed” and “trained” for jobs you have previously held.
  • Tailor the description of your job for each job you apply for. Chances are, the employer is looking for someone with specific experience and quality. Look at the details in the job description, and think of ways your past employment applies to those details. List out the important ones.
  • Format your résumé as you would any other professional written document. Keep the paper size as 8 inches wide by 11.5 inches tall. Keep the margins at 1 inch on all sides, and the font size should be no smaller than 11 point.
  • A basic serif or sans font is recommended for legibility and professional appearance. The most common standard fonts for résumés are Times New Roman, Garamond, Helvetica and Arial.
  • Color is acceptable if the job will require some creative work. It’s best to avoid color to play it safe.
  • One page is usually enough for a résumé, although if you’ve been in the same industry for 15 or more years and have held many jobs, it’s OK to go over one page in length. But, keep in mind that if you are summarizing your job duties that apply well enough, you should have no problem keeping it to one page.
  • Cover letters should be included along with your résumé. It’s a good idea to present who you are and why you want the job in your own writing.
  • If you’ve left off a couple jobs due to space or inapplicability, make sure to keep a list of all of your previous jobs for the interview.
  • Make sure there are no mistakes. I mean none. Take each sentence or phrase, copy it into a text editor and run a spell check on it. It pays to double (or triple!) check. Send it out to a few friends or colleagues that are willing to look it over to see if you missed any mistakes. Use your network to ask for help.

If you have any problems creating your resume, or you just want to perfect it, find professional help. There are some online tools that will help you, such as Monster and, but a simple web search will help you find professionals in your area.

Résumé components


Name and contact information (phone number and address)

Make sure your contact information is large enough to notice at the top of your résumé. Enlarging the size of your name may help your name be remembered.

Résumé objective

This should be different for each job you apply to. It’s obvious your objective is to get a job at ABC Company, so tell the employer what about you will help you succeed in this specific position, at this specific company. “To obtain a head __________ position at a company” is not a good objective. A better example might be: “To use my three years of experience decreasing company expenses by 12 percent as a __________ to succeed as a ___________ at ABC Company.”

Work history

Your relevant jobs, yes. Your dishwashing job in high school, no. List applicable jobs you have held, or ones you have held for longer periods of time after your education. Don’t leave out periods of time by skipping a few years, just take a look at your past jobs and see if any of your duties will directly apply to the job you seeking.


College or high school, if it applies. Any other certifications or continuing education can be listed here (or in its own section if there is more than one being listed.) If you have a college degree, there’s usually no need to list your high school.


List at least three references on a separate page. It is OK to note “references available upon request.”