The résumé is a personal marketing tool that is meant to convey to an employer that a candidate is capable of doing a specific job based on their past experience, skill set, and accomplishments. The résumé is not a complete history of a candidate’s work or a record of everything the candidate has ever done. Therefore, a résumé MUST be tailored to each specific position to which you apply. The résumé should only include experiences that are relevant to the position being sought and should only highlight skills and accomplishments relevant to that position.
Master résumé to tailored résumé
- Begin by compiling a master résumé. A master résumé is a résumé with everything you have ever done on it. It is formatted correctly and has no page limit. This is a living document that you are always adding to as you gain experience. This document is never shared with anyone. When you are ready to apply for a position, you select only the most relevant aspects of your master résumé to include on your tailored, one-page résumé.
- Determine what the employer is looking for. Take out the job or internship description and carefully read through it, underlining the skills outlined by the employer. Compare this list to the skills that you possess through past experiences. Review your master résumé and select only the most relevant experiences that relate to those skills sought by the employer. Copy and paste only those experiences from your master résumé over to a tailored résumé.
- Tailor your résumé to the specific position and organization. Place the most important and relevant information near the top of the tailored résumé. Create section headers that are tailored to your industry (e.g. Health Education Experience, Risk Management Experience, or Healthcare Administration Experience).
- List your experiences in reverse chronological order (most recent working backwards) within each section. Move your most relevant sections up toward the top of your résumé.
- Avoid going over one page, unless you have extensive experience relevant to the position or you are using the résumé for academic purposes (e.g. scholarship or fellowship applications).
- Ensure that your résumé is error-free and void of abbreviations, slang, acronyms, personal pronouns (I, my, etc.), and jargon. It is also essential that you are consistent in your formatting. (If you bold one organization’s name, you must bold them all.)
- Do not include personal information on your résumé (e.g. religion, birth date, photo, etc.).
- Place your references on a separate reference sheet. Do not place your references on your résumé. See the References Handout for formatting tips.
Parts of a résumé
Place your contact information at the top of your résumé in the format of your choosing. This contact section should include the following: your name (should be the largest thing on the page), a full mailing address, your phone number, and your email address.
Résumé writing (objective)
If you are submitting a cover letter, you should not include an objective. Your cover letter is your extended objective. Objectives are useful to include when taking a résumé to a career fair or when sending to a contact for networking purposes. If including one, be sure to make it specific to the position. Do not say what you hope to gain from the employer. Focus on the skills and experience you can contribute to their organization.
When including an objective follow this formula:
Active verb (“seeking” or “to obtain”) + position and organization or industry + most relevant skills/experience
Place your education section either after your objective, if you are using one, or after your contact information. Do not include high school information on your résumé. Only list the university or universities from which you have obtained a degree or will be. If you have obtained degrees from multiple institutions, list them in reverse chronological order (most recent first).
For each institution you list, include the following: the name of the institution, the city and state where the institution is located (include country when appropriate), the degree you will be earning or have earned (spell it out, e.g., “Bachelor of Science in Public Health” or “Master of Health Administration”), the month and year you earned or will earn your degree, and any majors, minors, and/or concentrations.
In addition to listing the institutions you have earned degrees from, you may also include these optional elements: GPA (if 3.0 or higher), relevant coursework, any official trainings completed or certifications earned, and/or relevant academic honors/awards/scholarships. Language can also be placed in this section or in a separate language section. Be sure to designate your level (fluent, proficient, conversational, or literate) for each language listed.
Experience includes full-time, part-time, volunteer, extracurricular, internship, cooperative, laboratory, and clinical experiences that are relevant to the industry and position you are applying to, whether they were paid or unpaid. Remember that the employer is looking for skills and accomplishments. They are less concerned about the specific setting in which you gained your skills.
Creating sections is one of the best ways to tailor your résumé. Sections allow you to group together your most relevant experiences. For example, if you are applying for an office administrative position with a hospital, you might have a “Hospital Administrative Experience” section that includes your most relevant experience. Avoid sections titled “Work Experience” or just “Experience.” These are too generic and do nothing to help you tailor your résumé. Remember, your sections can move freely around the page but your experiences within each section must be listed in reverse chronological order (most recent first). General section title examples: “Leadership Experience,” “Management Experience,” “Volunteer Experience,” “Additional Experience.”
- Experience blocks
Within each section you will list a minimum of one experience block. An experience block includes the name of the organization, the city and state where the organization is located (include country if outside of the U.S.), your title (e.g. “program coordinator”), start and end dates that include both the month and year, and two to four bullet points describing your skills and accomplishments.
- Bullet points
When constructing your bullet points use the following formula:
Active skill verb + what you did + how/why or result
- Developed a health education program utilizing behavior change strategies to improve exercise habits among a population of 50 type II diabetic women.
What you did: a health education program
How/why or result: utilizing behavior change strategies to improve exercise habits among a population of 50 type II diabetic women.
It is also important to quantify and qualify. You will not be there to explain your skills to the employer. Your bullet points have to provide enough context and detail for them to understand your capabilities. In every bullet point always ask yourself why you did something. The why or result portion of the bullet point holds the most weight. Skills should be in present tense if you are still doing the activity and past tense if you are no longer doing the activity.
If specifically asked for in the job description, you can create separate sections for computer skills, clinical skills, and/or laboratory skills. Otherwise, these skills should be embedded into your existing bullet points wherever possible.
Active skill verbs