Job-Search Tips for Students
How to Format Your Resume
- Make your name stand out; you want the employer to remember you. Your name should be in bold and in a slightly larger font than the rest of the résumé.
- Below your name, list your current mailing address, phone number, and the email address you most frequently use. You may use your permanent mailing address if you wish.
- Always list your most recent education first. Indicate your university, your school (e.g. Georgetown College), major, minor(s), and graduation year.
- Include your GPA (optional, see “Dos” above); you may also include your GPA for your major and minor if you wish, especially if they are higher than your total GPA.
There are three main formats for summarizing your experience: Chronological, Functional, and Combination. You will find Chronological and Combination summarized below, as these are the most commonly used and preferred by most job applicants and employers. Remember that relevant experience can include jobs, internships, volunteer experiences and coursework.
- Chronological: This format is most commonly used by college students. It lists your experiences chronologically and is familiar to (and often preferred by) employers. This format is the best way to showcase your experiences while highlighting all of your assets.
- List experiences, starting with your most recent position.
- On the first line write the name of the company, location and the dates you worked.
- On the next line write the title of your position.
- Include three or four sentences describing what your position entailed. Think about what you actually contributed to the job or organization and how your role was significant. The use of bullets makes the résumé easy to read. Refer to the attached “Action Verbs” sheet for help in choosing energetic verbs; try to avoid using “responsibilities include” and “did.”
- Combination: This format combines both Chronological and Functional formats. It allows you to highlight your experience in specific fields. Work experiences are listed chronologically under functional categories (e.g., Financial, Legal, etc.).
- Create categories based on skills that are most important to the job field (e.g. Financial, Education, Research, Technology, etc.)
- List work experiences under each category starting with your most recent position.
- Follow steps 2 to 4 as outlined under the Chronological format.
- This is the place to list your extra-curricular activities, such as sports, on-campus involvement, volunteer experience, etc. You may provide a brief description of accomplishments and responsibilities for each if you wish.
- Important skills to include are:
- Languages (Basic, Intermediate, Advanced or Fluent)
- Technical skills; list specific software with which you are familiar (e.g. MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, WordPerfect, Adobe Photoshop, etc.)
- Any specific training or certification programs you have completed that would be relevant to the job for which you are applying.
- You may list these under two separate subtitles (“Extracurricular Activities” and “Skills”) or one (“Skills & Activities”) if you need to conserve space.
- Leave references off the resume and create a separate page that includes the name, title, business address and phone numbers of three to five references. There is no standard format for this page. Just be consistent in the format for each reference listed. Faculty members, former employers, business or community leaders, and people employed in your field of choice make excellent references.
Check out sample resumes at the Career Center’s website.
Do’s and Don’ts of Writing Your Resume
The goal of the resume is to summarize your experiences as they relate to a specific job description. Your resume should be one page, printed neatly (using a laser printer), and without spelling errors. Refer to the samples below for formatting guidelines and ideas, but remember, your resume should represent you and also catch the employer’s eye.
Keep in mind the following tips while you write your resume:
- Do customize. Tailor your resume, detailing your work and extracurricular experiences that are most applicable to the job and industry you are targeting.
- Do be concise. Use brief, succinct statements and keep your resume to one page.
- Do keep font size to 10, 11, or 12 points and set margins to no less than 0.5 inch on all sides.
- Do pay attention to verb tense! Use past tense when describing past positions and present tense for your current positions.
- Do be consistent with punctuation.
- Do use the phone number where an employer can reach you to set up an interview. Do make sure your voice mail greeting is professional!
- Do include an e-mail address. Make sure that the address is professional (e.g. “firstname.lastname@example.org” is not appropriate)!
- Do include a GPA if 3.0 or better (the question of whether to include your GPA is ultimately up to you, but also depends on the industry you are targeting). Do consider including your GPA in your major if it is significantly higher than the cumulative GPA.
- Do refer to our action verbs page. Use these as an alternative to common action verbs such as “do/did,” “completed,” etc.
- Do include a relevant subject line in your e-mails to employers, such as “Technical Writer Position #4420.”
- Do heed aesthetics — print all documents on high quality resume paper and use a laser printer.
- Do include multiple titles and responsibilities if you had multiple roles at one organization.
- Don’t lie, exaggerate, or include something on your resume that you would not feel comfortable discussing in an interview.
- Don’t include an “Objective” on your resume, unless you can be specific about the position to which you are applying (ordinarily, you omit it and state your objective in your cover letter).
- Don’t use Georgetown jargon or acronyms without explaining what they mean (e.g. GUSA, MSB, etc.).
- Don’t rely on spell-check. Proofread your resume carefully and have someone else proofread it as well. Remember, spell-check necessarily tell you if you’ve spelled the company name incorrectly.
- Don’t use the word “I” or other first-person pronouns.
- Don’t include personal information such as birth date, marital status, hobbies, or interests.
- Don’t use dark or speckled paper that can be difficult to read once photocopied or faxed.
Elements of a Cover Letter
Employers use cover letters to determine your interest in a position and to assess your written communication skills. Even those employers who don’t read cover letters at first may eventually review them to compare applicants who seem similarly qualified.
The cover letter should answer the following questions:
Who are you?
- Introduce yourself.
Why are you interested in the position?
- Explain how you heard about the position and demonstrate your interest in the opening to the employer.
How are you qualified? Why should you be hired?
- Detail experiences and accomplishments that make you a qualified candidate for the position.
What is your next step?
- Request an interview and state that you will follow up with a phone call (within two weeks) to make sure that the employer has received your materials (unless the employer has request that you do not contact them).
- Address the letter to a specific individual if possible.
- Be brief. Use powerful words, concise sentences, and short paragraphs.
- Don’t restate your resume; instead, explain how your experiences meet the specific needs of the position. Mention three to four examples of skills that you possess that make you qualified for the position.
- Focus on the particular employer’s needs and what you can do for them, not what they can do for you.
- Keep it to one page.
- Match the type style and paper with your resume.
- Proofread for spelling and grammatical errors.
- Keep a record of where you have applied, when you’ve sent each cover letter, and when you plan to follow up with a phone call.
In addition to the resume, employers will use the interview to assess your qualifications for the position.
During the Interview, show the employer that:
- You can do the job successfully.
- You sincerely want the job.
- You can connect well with the staff.
- You can maintain a professional appearance.
- Dress appropriately. When in doubt, err on the conservative side. Dark-colored suits are the norm for men and women.
- Arrive at least 10 minutes early with extra copies of your resume and any other materials you’ve been asked to bring (e.g. list of references). Be courteous to everyone you meet, smile, present a firm handshake, and be yourself!
- As the interview progresses, the employer will ask a variety of questions to determine interest and competence. When answering the questions, make sure your answers are clear, concise, and followed by an example. And always maintain strong eye contact.
- After the interview, send a thank you not to the interviewer in which you restate your interest in the position.
- Tell me about yourself.
- Why are you a good fit?
- Relate your studies and/or experience to this job.
- What do you want out of your career?
- Why are you interested in working for this company?
- Why do you think you would like this type of work?
- How do you feel you will add value to our company?
- Why should I hire you? What do you know about this organization?
- As described to you, what about this position appeals to you?
- What are your 5-year and 10-year career goals?
- Name three of your strengths and three of your weaknesses.
- What have you done that shows initiative and willingness to work?
- What qualifications do you have that will make you successful in this field?
- What qualities should a successful manager possess?
- What personal characteristics are necessary for success in this field?
- Why do you think you would be successful in this field?
Challenges (And How You Overcame Them)
- What are some of the things you find difficult to do? Why?
- Give me an example where you dealt with pressure.
- Describe a difficult problem you’ve had to deal with.
- What is the most difficult situation you have faced?
- What is your greatest weakness?
- How do you manage stress?
- How do you handle criticism?
College Life and Decisions
- Why did you choose your particular major?
- Describe your most rewarding college experience and tell me why it was so rewarding.
- How will you prepare for the transition from college to the workplace?
- Tell me about what you learned in school that could be used on the job.
- Why did you choose to attend Georgetown University?
- In what ways has college prepared you to take on greater responsibility?
- What have you gained from your extracurricular activities?
Past Experiences/Future Plans
- What have you learned from your previous jobs?
- What would you like to be doing five years from now?
- What are you biggest accomplishments?
- Do you prefer to work independently or on a team?
- How do you organize and plan for major projects?
- What is your energy level like? Describe a typical day.
- Do you make your opinions known when you disagree with the views of your supervisor?
- Describe the relationship that should exist between a supervisor and subordinates.
Questions to Ask The Interviewer
- While researching your organization, I have learned ________. Have you found this to be the case during your time here?
- What are you looking for in an ideal candidate?
- What are the organization’s long-term goals?
- How does this department fit into the organization’s structure?
- How did you choose this organization?
- What are the things you like most/least about working here?
Advice for International Students
- Use the Career Center for career counseling, employment advising, recruiting opportunities, and interview preparations.
- Contact the Office of International Programs (located in Poulton Hall) for questions about visas and work permits.
- If you are a non-native English speaker, assert your speaking and writing proficiency in the English language.
- Make sure there are No spelling or grammar errors on your resume or cover letter.