What is a Resume?

What is a Resume?

A resume is a data sheet that markets your credentials. It outlines your skills and qualifications and prompts potential employers to talk to you further about the opportunities they offer. A resume gets you in the door, but it doesn’t get you the job. It is just the first step. What gets you the job are the interviews and how you do with them.

Create a Master List

Here is how to start. Remember and write down every experience you can think of.

Some examples:

  • Volunteer/community service
  • Internships, anywhere
  • Paid jobs, anywhere and at any time
  • Research projects – big ones you do
  • Campus activities
  • Student organizations
  • Education

This is just a brainstorm so don’t worry about the format yet. This master list will provide you with all the information you need to create your resume and cover letter and prepare for interviewing.

Elaborate On Your List

Next, write descriptions of the items on your list. Include information about your specific responsibilities, skills used, and outcomes you obtained. Use action verbs in your descriptions. Remember to tailor the descriptions to the types of jobs and employers you’re targeting. Think about the skills you used in each of your positions that will be of interest to potential employers. You’re trying to convince an employer that your skills transfer to the type of position for which you’re applying.

What Should Go Into Your Resume?

After you have written descriptions for your positions, you’ll need to decide how to organize your experiences, and what to include in the resume. You do not need to include every experience in your list. Be strategic. Focus on those experiences that will be of most interest to your prospective employer.

There are a few sections that are common to most resumes:


It’s a good idea to include both your current school address and a permanent address. Be sure that your phone numbers are correct, and always include an email address. You only need to list one email address, but be sure you check it frequently. If you use an email address other than your Oberlin one, be sure to use a professional sounding address. Do not include your social security number or date of birth.


This is optional. If you choose to include one, make it a concise declaration of the position you seek in a specified area, department, or industry i.e. a summer internship in a public relations firm. You will elaborate on this more fully in your cover letter, so if you can better use the space on your resume to list relevant experiences and skills, skip the objective.


This section gives details about your college, degree, graduation date, and majors. An overall GPA and a Major GPA are optional. Typically, include your GPA if it is 3.0 or higher and add your Major GPA if it is higher than your overall GPA. Include study abroad or additional educational institutions if appropriate. Generally, you will not include high school, unless your high school is well known or is relevant to the employer (it is assumed you graduated from high school to get into college).


This is the main part of your resume. Use the descriptions you wrote while compiling your list, being sure to begin them with action verbs. Strive to be concise. You should not use full sentences or try to write eloquent prose. Illustrate descriptions with specifics about numbers, outcomes, and goals you met. Omit all personal pronouns.

Try not to be redundant with your job title. For example, if you were a staff writer for The Review, don’t just say you “wrote articles for The Review”. That is implied by your title. Instead try to indicate how many articles, about what, whether you conducted interviews, etc.

Write the description of your experiences either using bullets or in a paragraph style. Again, make sure it is easy to read. Bulleted statements can contain more than one sentence and be more than one line if needed. Don’t use bullets if you choose a paragraph style.

Other sections will depend upon your background and what will be of interest to the prospective employer. You may include some of the following


List your computer, language, and other relevant skills.


If not already included in the Experience section, use this section to describe activities you’ve participated in, especially if you played a leadership role. This section is especially useful for students and recent grads who do not yet have a great deal of work experience.


Particularly useful for academic resumes, this section allows you to elaborate on relevant academic work you’ve done.


(major/minor; or possible fields of interest)



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