• Madison Reynolds

How to Create an Effective & Engaging Resume

The average recruiter looks at an applicants resume for six seconds.

You're probably thinking, "how in the world do I get a readers attention in six seconds?". Don't worry! As someone that has edited many resumes as both a student worker, and now a full-time professional in career services, I have learned a few tips and tricks to help you out.

*Disclaimer: Resumes are based on personal preference. The opinions in this post are my own, and do not reflect the opinions of my previous, or current places of employment.

Formatting Overview

  • Your resume should be one page in length. If you must go on to two pages, it should be two full pages.

  • Font size should be no smaller than 10pt. Make sure it is a font style that is legible!

  • Have 3-5 bullet points per work experience section.

1. Heading

Your name should be the largest font on the page.

  • Pro tip- Put your entire heading into the "header" of the document (On Google Docs use "Insert" then "Header"). This maximizes your space on the page.

For the email address, make sure you are using a professional email address. If you are a student, your school email is a great option. Otherwise, try not to use something like "animallover1" (yes, this was one of my former email addresses).

If you don't have a LinkedIn profile, I would recommend getting one. It's a great networking tool, and if you have things you don't have room for on your resume, you can keep them on your LinkedIn page. To create a personal LinkedIn link, go to "Edit Public Profile & URL" and then "Edit Custom URL". I would recommend changing it to your first and last name. For example, www.linkedin.com/in/joesmith.

Here is an example of what your heading could look like:

2. Education/Work Experience

This is where you have to start making some decisions. This first section of your resume is typically "Education" or "Experience". Choose which one is most relevant to you. If you are a student or a recent graduate, you may want to have education first. If you haven't recently graduated, (or even if you have!) and have extensive work experience, or experience directly related to the position you are applying for, you may want to list experience first. The decision is yours!

Your education section may look something like this:

Your experience section could look like this:

  • Pro tip - Notice how I have "Professional Experience" listed. This is an area where you can get creative. What kind of experience to do you have? You could use professional, relevant, recent, etc. Grab the readers attention!

  • Pro tip - I like to have all dates aligned to the left side of the document. This helps even out the spacing on the page, and is easier for the reader to navigate.

3. Bulleted Statements

This is what I would call the "meat and potatoes" of your resume. Like I mentioned earlier, you want to have 3-5 bulleted statements for every work experience listed on your resume. These statements should cover not just what you did on the job, but any significant achievements, promotions, special projects, etc. Even better, if you can match key words in your bulleted statements to key words used in the job description in which you are applying for.

Every bulleted statement starts with an action word. Here are a few examples of engaging action words you can use:

Coach, C. [Char]. (n.d.) Action Words for Resumes [Pinterest Post]. Pinterest. Retrieved March 15, 2020, from https://www.pinterest.com/pin/637892734696694116/?autologin=true

The bulleted statements are the most critical part of your resume. Really dig deep and think about what you want to highlight from your work experience. How will you grab the readers attention and let them know that you are a great candidate?

4. Leadership/Volunteer Experience

The last part of your resume, if you still have room, is where I like to recommend putting any volunteer or community engagement experience you have. This is a great way to highlight your other skills that you've developed through non-work experience. This is also a great place to list any sports, clubs, or teams that you've been engaged with.

This is how I would recommend formatting this section:


Your resume is a living, breathing, document and changes all the time. In fact, you should tailer your resume to fit each individual job you are applying for.

Use your six seconds wisely. How will you get the reader to stay?

If you have any specific resume formatting questions, please feel free to reach me through the "Contact" form on the bottom of this page. I would be more than happy to help!

Happy resume formatting!


Reach Hire

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