Attention: Pomona College is planning for a full return of students in fall. Learn More

How to Write a Resume

A resume is one or two page marketing tool (typically one for college students), and its primary function is to get the person reading the resume to want to interview you. It should succinctly summarize your qualifications and experience.

Resumes are targeted and written differently depending upon the specific audience. For example, resumes that are targeted toward a position working in a research lab will be formatted and organized differently than if you were using it to apply for a small, local, non-profit organization. However, here are guidelines that are important for you to consider.

Format, Design, and Delivery

Resume writing is definitely part art. Show your resume to three different people, and you will most likely get three different perspectives. This is normal because part of creating a resume is about personal preference. You will want to choose a look that best fits your preferences. Still, there are some general guidelines that you will not want to ignore:

  • Length: The standard length of an undergraduate resume is one page.  Some special circumstances require two pages, but one page is usually the maximum.
  • Margins: Keep your TOP/BOTTOM margins and LEFT/RIGHT margins consistent. No less than 0.5 and no more than 1.0.
  • Font type: Use a professional-looking font such as Calibri, Cambria, Arial, Helvetica, or Garamond.
  • Font Size: Use 10-12 point font. Your name should be bigger than your text, but no more than 16 point.
  • Keep it nice, clean, and simple: Don’t go crazy with too many italics, CAPS, bold, underlines, indentations, columns, and all combinations thereof.
  • Bullet points: Start each statement with an action verb. Include specific details and quantify your accomplishments (#, $, %).
  • Headings: Divide your resume information into clearly labeled sections. Prioritize the most relevant sections towards the top of your resume.
  • Print: Laser print your resume on quality 8.5 X 11 inch bond paper that is white or off-white. The CDO provides resumes paper.

E-mail Delivery

In today’s world, resumes and cover letters are often sent via e-mail.  Here are some typical guidelines to use when e-mailing your resumes and cover letters:

  • Turn your resume and cover letter into one PDF file.
  • Create a quick, professional e-mail that states you have attached your resume and cover letter.
  • In the subject line of the e-mail, put information that will easily identify your email, perhaps your name and “resume” – i.e. “John Doe Resume” or position to which you’re applying.

For more information, example format, and sample resumes, check out our Resource Guide [pdf].