Create a Resume

What is a resume?

A resume is a summary of your education, skills, and relevant experience. In the U.S., a resume is used to apply for scholarships, graduate programs, internships, and jobs; it outlines and highlights your qualifications for the opportunity.

A resume is often accompanied by a cover letter. Try our cover letter templates to help you create one.

Five steps to creating your resume

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1. Make a list

Make a list of your qualifications and experiences, such as:

Academic  
Jobs 
  • Degrees and certificates 

  • Group projects and presentations

  • Capstones and competitions 

  • Research and fieldwork

  • Study abroad 

  • Thesis 

  • Internships 

  • On-campus/part-time jobs 

  • Seasonal jobs 

  • Off-campus jobs 

  • Graduate assistantships 

  • Entrepreneurship/start-ups
Community Engagement 
Other Credentials 
  • Student organizations 

  • Professional associations 

  • Volunteering/community service 

  • Personal projects (websites, apps, games, etc.) 

  • Portfolios

  • Trainings and certifications 

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2. Match your qualifications

 

Review the position description to find the specific requirements for the role. Use the T-Chart exercise to help you match their requirements to your list of accomplishments.

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3. Format your document

Choose a template from the options below. Consider your goal, industry, and/or level of experience in your selection. 

Resume Format Sample 
When to use  
Editable Template  

Download and customize

Limited Experience Freshman If you do not have a lot of experience Limited Experience Resume Template
Related Project Chronological  If you have recent, directly relevant experience  Chronological Resume Template
Contemporary Student Functional If you are a career changer, have gaps in your work history, or multiple gigs that are overlapping  Functional Resume Template

Preferred formats vary by industry, so visit the Industry Specific Resource Pages for more resume samples.   

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4. Polish your resume

The “bullets,” or experience statements, are critical to highlighting your accomplishments. Use this exercise to help you decide what to include.   

  • Quantify your accomplishments and outcomes wherever possible (include numbers, percentages, dollars)

  • Use keywords from the position description  

  • Check spelling, punctuation, and grammar

  • Avoid tables, charts, pictures, and multiple/decorative fonts, and use standard round bullets to improve readability

  • Save as Word or PDF only (avoid Pages, Plain Text, etc.) 

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5. Get it reviewed

 

Get your resume reviewed during drop-in hours or by emailing careers@gmu.edu

To test how your resume aligns with a job description, use Jobscan.

  • Request free access to Jobscan Premium through University Career Services for help personalizing your resume for better results.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to use my legal name on my resume?

No. You do not have to use your full legal name as a resume is not a legal document.  

  • You may use your chosen name or the name you most identify with 

  • You can also include jobs held under a different name  

How do international and U.S. resumes differ?

In the U.S., the document used to apply for most jobs outside of academia is called a resume. In other countries, it is called a CV.  

U.S. Resumes vs International Resumes or CV

Should I include my citizenship or work authorization when applying for jobs in the U.S.?

If you are a U.S. Citizen, you may choose to include the phrase U.S. Citizen under your name if:  

  • U.S. Citizenship is required for the position 

  • You think you may be discriminated against based on your name or international experience 

*Do not include your social security number 

If you are not a U.S. citizen, and your Visa status permits off-campus work, you may include the phrase "Eligible to work in the United States" under your name 

Should I use the same resume to apply for different positions? 

Not if you are applying for positions with different requirements. Use the T-Chart in this exercise to help you develop a customized resume for a specific position.

I’m concerned about ageism based on my resume.

Consider one or more of the following: 

  • Remove dates of degrees earned, if more than 10 years ago 

  • Include only your most relevant and recent experiences and coursework that qualify you for the job you want today 

  • Emphasize the skills you have (not when/where you gained them) using a Functional Resume format 

  • Highlight your current technology skills 

How do I address employment gaps in my resume?

Consider one or more of the following: 

  • Emphasize the skills you have (not when/where you gained them) using a Functional Resume format  

  • Think about your experience more broadly. Beyond full-time, paid employment, your resume can include part-time, temporary, volunteer work, hobbies/independent projects, freelance, gig work, and self-employment  

  • Highlight your current technology skills 

  • Incorporate skill-building activities, training, education (include dates, time spent)  

  • Prepare to address questions about employment gaps in an interview. Unapologetically communicate in one-two sentences what you were focused on in that time

How do I include experience on my resume if I can’t or don’t want to disclose the name of an organization to which I belong(ed)?

  • Use an acronym for the organization name (e.g. FESF instead of Fund to End Sunday Funday) 

  • Describe type of organization without a name (e.g. Political Think Tank instead of Foundation Against Fuzzy Bunnies) 

  • Replace the organization name with a phrase like Private Employer or Confidential Employer  

If you choose to include this experience on your resume be prepared to talk about it during an interview 

If you have questions you don’t see addressed or would like to talk more about one of these topics, make an appointment