When preparing your application materials, your tasks are to engage the reader, communicate your fit, articulate a vision of who you are, and demonstrate your potential as a future member of a team. The ultimate goal of your application packet is to be invited for an interview.
Developing Application Materials
- Limit to one page, unless you are a graduate student
- Use 10pt - 12pt font size
- Use proper spelling and grammar
- Avoid full sentences and paragraphs. For instance, instead of saying “I developed a program targeted at reducing waste on campus,” say “Developed a program targeted at reducing waste on campus"
- List everything in reverse chronological order (most recent or current first) for the convenience of the reader
- Remember to highlight your skills and courses you are taking. You can list current courses as well, but just denote in some way that they are current. For example: Biomechanics (Spring 2021)
- Take off high school and high school activities by the end of your sophomore year (Exception: Eagle Scout is one accomplishment that stays on)
- Quantify your accomplishments if you can. For example, a Membership Coordinator position in a student club could include something like “Increased membership by 10% through targeted outreach program to residence halls.”
- Relevant Courses
- Projects - This is important! This category can include class projects from courses like IED, Embedded Control, etc., and even personal projects. Depending on the number of projects, you may end up folding them into the Experience section.
Including courses on your resume can be a good way to highlight skills and keywords from those courses, particularly if you have not yet taken project-based courses that allow you to highlight projects on your resume.
When describing courses, rather than just copying and pasting the course description, focus on what you did in the class. For example, say something like:
Accounting for Decision Making (Spring 2019)
Developed income statements, balance sheets, depreciation schedules, and profit projections in Excel.
Remember, the goal of your resume is to stand out.
- Did you make an impact? This is where quantifying can be important.
- Include significant responsibilities of the job (core duties)
- Include things that are directly relevant to the job for which you're applying
Consider What (was the task), Who (was impacted), How (did you do it) or Why (was it important)
- Take care not to go into too much detail. Be strategic with the details you include; that is, demonstrate what you are capable of doing without adding so much detail that the reviewer's eyes gloss over.
- Use Action Verb/Power Word, What/Who, Purpose, How/Why (to/by/resulting in/for)
- Recruit new students into international studies program by facilitating information sessions and implementing social media marketing campaign
Use Action Verbs (remember, action oriented statements)
- Avoid the terms “responsible for” or “duties include”
How many bullet points?
- Three to four per position/experience recommended
- No more than six
- Employers view projects as experience; through participating in projects, you are applying knowledge of skills such as coding, software, problem-solving and collaborating with others and leadership experience.
- If you have two or more projects to list, have a separate “Projects” header on your resume. If describing one or two projects, add them to your “Experience” header on the resume.
- When describing a project, include: the number of classmates on your team, if you took a lead role, your specific contribution to the project, and the software/coding used.
Here's an example:
Introduction to Engineering Design, RPI
Project Team Leader Fall 2019
- Led and collaborated with a team of 6 classmates to identify, understand and solve engineering problems.
- Assigned responsibilities to the team and communicated regularly with them on their progress.
- Created a battery-powered car to go up an incline to a plateau and maintain its position against an opposing car coming up the incline from the other end.
- Read job descriptions carefully and use the same language in your resume where applicable.
- Describe your experience with concrete, active words rather than vague descriptions. For example, it’s better to use “managed a team of software engineers” rather than “responsible for managing, training...”
- Use jargon and acronyms specific to your industry, and spell out the names of software you use, such as Microsoft Word and Lotus 1-2-3.
- Take your cues from the job postings. If an employer writes the initials FEA (for Finite Element Analysis), you should also include this acronym on your resume rather than spelling it out.
- Use white or light colored 8 ½ x 11 paper, printed on one side only.
- Provide a laser printed original copy.
- Do not fold or staple your document when submitting your resume to a recruiter at an event. They may need to scan your resume into an applicant tracking system.
- Use standard typefaces as Arial, Helvetica, Futura, Optim, Times New Roman or Palatino.
- Use between a 10- and 12-point font.
- Do not condense spacing between letters.
- Use boldface and/or all capital letters for section headings as long as the letters don’t touch each
- Avoid italics,underlines, shadows, and reverse (white letters on black background).
- Avoid vertical and horizontal lines, graphics and boxes.
- Avoid two -column format or resumes that look like newspapers or newsletters.
The use of applicant tracking software by employers to receive, store, manage, and retrieve prospective candidates’ resumes online is common. Understanding this technology can increase your chances of being contacted by an employer for an interview. The two most important elements of your "scannable" resume are key words and formatting. A human being will never see a resume that has been uploaded into applicant tracking software unless it has been first retrieved through a key word search. You must tailor your resume.
Frequently Asked Questions
- We recommend including your GPA if it is over 2.7.
- You can include in-major GPA, previous semester’s GPA, etc. but if you do so, always include your cumulative GPA as well.
Objectives are great for career fairs, as they give employers a general idea of what you are looking for/your timeline. However, if you are applying online and writing a cover letter with your application, you do not necessarily need one.
No. Employers will ask for references if they need them. Save the space for something else!
Unless you are a graduate student, your resume should really just be one page. We can help you decide what to cut out and/or keep!