Tips for Drafting a Resume in the U.S.

If you are new to internship or job searching in the U.S., resume writing can seem a little daunting. Chances are, you have built a resume to the specifications of your home country, but might not be sure how to best translate your experience, achievements, and attributes to an American-style summary of your work. What’s more, resume advice might seem fraught with cultural norms; guidance can be subjective and, at times, conflicting.

Here are some tips that we hope will help to demystify the resume writing process.

  1. Become familiar with the structure and content of a U.S. resume. If you are seeking employment in the U.S., your resume might include education, experience (part-time jobs, internships, research projects), leadership positions, awards and honors, and your skills. A strong resume will be results-oriented and focus on your accomplishments. Be sure to keep your resume to roughly one page if you are an undergraduate, unless you are building a CV. You will also want to refrain from including information such as marital status, age, race and ethnicity, or a photo.
  2. Tailor your resume to the job. Though it might take some extra time, it is worthwhile to make subtle changes to your resume for each job or internship you choose to apply to. It’s OK to have many versions of your “master resume,” and is in fact encouraged. We recommend that you treat the job description like a question that your resume and cover letter is responding to. Which words are repeated throughout the job description? Which skills in the “Knowledge, Skills, & Abilities” or “Qualifications” sections match your own experiences?
  3. Have a few folks review your resume and make recommendations. In the U.S., resume writing can vary by both experience level and industry, so it’s useful to hear the opinions and perspectives of a few trusted folks. This might include peers or friends, advisors or mentors (career staff and industry professionals), University Writing Center consultants, or professors. Be sure to take the advice of each reviewer into consideration, but do not feel as if you have to follow each nugget of helpful information. Take a few moments to reflect after every resume review, and implement the advice that works for you.

Still seeking answers to your questions on resumes? Purdue OWL has an excellent set of articles that can help you answer specific questions about resume writing as well.

Also, consider attending our first-ever Resume Writing Workshop & Career Studio! This event will be held on Tuesday, October 9 from 2:00-3:30pm in the I-House Dining Room. Get your questions answered about resume writing and work on your materials right after the workshop, with on-demand help from Career & Peer Advisors.

By Kimberly English
Kimberly English Career Advisor Kimberly English