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Resumes

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Resumes are an early step in any hiring process. Begin by creating a master resume to track your education, experience, and skills. When applying for a position with a specific employer, tailor the resume to your relevant qualifications.

Use this page to learn all about resumes.

 Lightbulb icon  Looking for CV tips? Check out Undergrad CVs or Grad Student CVs. Also, learn how to practice #SafeSearch and avoid online job fraud so you Don't Get Scammed.

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Header

The header is the first section on a resume. It features key information about you, which always includes your name, location (in the format of City, State), phone number, and email address. Your email address should appear professional and easy to read, thus we typically recommend your UCSB email address.

You can also make your contact information more engaging by adding the URL to your LinkedIn profile, a personal website, or a portfolio account. Similar to your email address, try to ensure that the URL appears professional and easy to read, and that the information in the link you provide represents your best efforts.

Here is an example of the top header of a resume:

Tomás Teacher

Culver City, CA | (555) 333-5942 | tteacher@ucsb.edu | linkedin.com/in/tteacher

 

Objective (Optional)

An objective provides a lens through which an employer views your resume. For this reason, you may find that this section receives mixed opinions about its effectiveness; some experts recommend an objective for its strategy of "priming" the reader with your most relevant qualifications, while other experts believe that an objective provides no new value (see Vault's answer to Do You Need a Resume Objective? for details).

If you include an objective, target it toward the position that you are applying for and use it to synthesize your most relevant qualifications. Draw inspiration from keywords in the job description, and be concise so that every word makes an impact. One strong statement can be powerful due to its brevity.

Here is an example of an objective statement:

Seeking the Tour Operations Internship at Warner Bros. Studio, utilizing film/media education and 1 year of customer service experience in hospitality.

PRO TIP

For career fairs, public resumes on your Handshake profile, or other general-purpose resumes, generalize your objective or leave it off of your resume entirely.

Education

As a student of UCSB, you have earned the ability to showcase your distinguished education on your resume. In this section, we recommend that you include your undergraduate education, as well as any graduate education (if applicable). Prior studies at 2-year colleges are often seen as optional once you attend UCSB, and high school diplomas can be omitted.

For each educational institution that you include on your resume, list the name of the institution spelled out to completion, degree and area of study (i.e., your major or discipline), location (in the format of City, State), and graduation date (expected or previous).

Here is an example of essential information to include about your education:

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB)  | June 20xx
Bachelor of Arts in Sociology

In addition to the basic information about your education, you may want to include descriptive information, such as your GPA, minors, certificates, study abroad programs, or educational training. You can also choose to showcase the knowledge you gained from relevant courses by listing the general course titles (not course codes) of about three to six courses. If you would like to write more about each course, create a separate section named Relevant Coursework to feature a brief description for each.

Here is an example of descriptive information to include about your education:

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) | June 20xx
Bachelor of Arts in Sociology | GPA: 3.7

  • Minor: Professional Writing
  • Study Abroad: Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark
  • Relevant Courses: Language Use and Social Interaction, Climate Change Solutions, Global and International Studies (In Progress)

PRO TIP

Include your GPA if it is a strength within your qualifications. Most students choose to do this when their GPA is above 3.0, but it is a personal decision (unless required by a job description).

Note that your Cumulative GPA and your Major GPA are two separate calculations. If your major relates to the position you are applying to and your Major GPA is stronger than your Cumulative GPA, consider featuring this and clearly indicate it as "Major GPA." Login to GOLD to calculate this in a Major Progress Check.

Experience

On your resume, experience includes all of the ways that you have been involved outside of the classroom. Experience can feature previous employment, internships, academic or personal projects, involvement with our community and campus organizations, research, athletics, and more.
 

How to List Experience

When listing your experience, include the name of the organizationtitle of your position, dates (in the format of Month Year - Month Year, or to Present for current experience), and location (in the format of City, State).

Most employers prefer to see experience listed by recency (in the order of your most recent to least recent experience by the end date) within any experience section on your resume.

Here is an example of essential information to include about experience:

UCSB Recreation Center | April 20xx - Present
Intern | Santa Barbara, CA

PRO TIP

Create multiple experience sections to convey relevant themes for the position to which you are applying. For example, if you are applying to a position in marketing and you have prior experience in marketing, it is advantageous to name a section on your resume "Marketing Experience". If you cannot identify specific section names, "Relevant Experience" and "Additional Experience" can be effective names.

How to Describe Experience

Your experience should demonstrate the transferable skills you utilized in past roles. For instance, if you worked in food service, you probably learned various tactics to keep customers satisfied, communicate clearly with coworkers, and manage your time in a fast-paced environment. On the other hand, if you worked in sports recreation, you may have learned how to organize events, create shared experiences, and administer equipment within a budget.

To brainstorm descriptive information about the transferable skills you gained from an experience, consider these initial questions:

  • What did I do? (i.e., task, assignment, or job duty)
  • How did I do it? (i.e., methods, tools, or processes) 
  • Who did I do it with? (i.e., collaborators, customers, or stakeholders)
  • Where did I do it? (i.e., work environment, context, or situation)
  • Why did I do it? (i.e., purpose, value, or impact)
     

With this information, identify the aspects that relate to the position to which you are applying. This varies based on the specific role you are targeting, so this should be adapted for each application.

Next, write a series of descriptive statements in bullet point format that focus on a relevant aspect of your experience. For each descriptive statement, begin with an action verb that captures the type of skill you utilized.

Click below to begin exploring powerful action verbs, which you can supplement by searching for synonyms.

Allocate, Analyze, Appraise, Assess, Balance, Budget, Calculate, Collect, Conserve, Critique, Deduct, Determine, Evaluate, Examine, Forecast, Interpret, Investigate, Manage, Map, Market, Measure, Negotiate, Organize, Plan, Project, Qualify, Quantify, Record, Secure, Survey, Yield

Advocate, Author, Campaign, Communicate, Compile, Compose, Correspond, Develop, Document, Edit, Educate, Formulate, Market, Mitigate, Present, Promote, Publicize, Record, Speak, Translate

Build, Conceptualize, Create, Demonstrate, Design, Develop, Direct, Establish, Implement, Initiate, Institute, Integrate, Perform, Resign, Shape, Transform

Advise, Assist, Clarify, Cooperate, Educate, Familiarize, Field, Guide, Help, Implement, Inform, Intercede, Relieve, Resolve, Support

Achieve, Amplify, Attain, Award, Chart, Complete, Delegate, Earn, Endure, Improve, Launch, Lead, Manage, Maximize, Monitor, Orchestrate, Organize, Outpace, Outperform, Oversee, Regulate, Showcase, Spearhead, Stimulate, Strengthen, Succeed, Surpass

Calculate, Configure, Decipher, Diagnose, Digitize, Engineer, Envision, Fabricate, Fabricate, Implement, Merge, Model, Modify, Overhaul, Program, Prototype, Repair, Resolve, Route, Secure, Solve, Test, Update, Upgrade

Once you have an action verb ready to begin a descriptive statement, elaborate further by brainstorming the details of what you did, incorporating results and quantifiable information when possible.

The ideal length of a descriptive statement is about the width of the page, and the ideal number of descriptive statements ranges between two to six based the relevance and recency of the experience. For the best strategy, sort the more relevant statements higher than the less relevant statements.

Here is an example of descriptive information to include about your experience:

UCSB Recreation Center | April 20xx - Present
Intern | Santa Barbara, CA

  • Assist in the planning and organization of 10 intramural soccer teams
  • Coordinate the concurrent use of 5 soccer fields for 16-team tournament
  • Schedule referee staff for annual 3-week tournament
  • Negotiate for intramural Greek tournament in exchange for Greek sponsorship and staffing of Tiny Tots Tournament, resulting in cost reduction of $3,500

PRO TIP

Numbers stand out on resumes, especially when written with numeric digits (e.g., 0-99). Consider the power of quantifying your experience by updating a bullet points like, “Collaborated with team to coordinate event for participants raising funds” with “Collaborated with team of 10 to coordinate event for 200+ participants raising over $2,500 in funds”.

Skills (Optional)

In addition to your education and experience, you likely have several skills that are useful for the position to which you are applying. A skills section traditionally contains technical skills, language skills, or laboratory skills, but it can also include any other skill relevant to a position.

As a gauge of your proficiency level, you can rate your skills into one of a few general categories:

  1. "Basic Knowledge" or "Familiarity"
  2. "Proficient" or "Accomplished"
  3. "Advanced Knowledge" or "Expertise"
     

Rarely should a skills section include broad interpersonal skills, because they are widely overused by applicants and lack concrete evidence. For instance, writing “Good Communication Skills” or "Effective Communicator" is typically too vague to leave an impression on an employer. In this instance, it might be more useful to address your communication skills within a context that is relevant to the employer's needs.

To include your most relevant skills, review the job description for qualifications that pertain to skills or knowledge areas. Then, create a list of factual statements in bullet point format, incorporating specific, concrete, and measurable information about each skill. This can complement the descriptive statements within your experience section(s).

Here is an example of factual information to include about your skills:

  • Leadership: Voted into leadership position by peers and entrusted to make decisions for residence hall floor.
  • Language: Fluent in Cantonese, spoken and written.
  • Communication: Training and tutoring experience in food service and educational settings. Consistently received positive evaluations from supervisors.
  • Technical: Proficient in Microsoft Office (Word, PowerPoint, and Excel).

PRO TIP

If you have skills that pertain to written or spoken language, consider using a general scaling of "Basic Knowledge," "Conversational," "Proficient," "Fluent," and "Bilingual" to rate your skills. If the position to which you are applying requires language abilities, consider using the Interagency Language Roundtable scaling system, the official rating system for language.

Involvement (Optional)

If you are involved in ways beyond formal education and experience, you may want to consider a section to capture this information. While the name of the section can be adapted as needed, this section typically includes volunteer work or memberships with campus organizations, professional associations, or community groups.

In most instances, this is a short section toward the bottom of a resume, and it focuses only on the most essential information: name of the organizationtitle of your position, dates (in the format of Month Year - Month Year, or to Present for current involvement), and optionally, location (in the format of City, State).

Similar to an experience section, it is typically best to sort each of your activities by recency (in the order of your most recent to least recent activity by the end date).

Here is an example of essential information to include about various involvements:

Member of Undergraduate Accounting Society at UCSB
Santa Barbara, CA | September 20xx - Present

Philanthropy Chair for Alpha Kappa Omega (Business Fraternity) at UCSB
Santa Barbara, CA | September 20xx - Present

Volunteer Tutor for CARE Foundation
Goleta, CA | September 20xx - June 20xx

PRO TIP

To find the most effective name for this section, focus it around the ways you have been involved. Examples include: Community Involvement, Volunteer Experience, Professional Affiliations, Extracurricular Activities, and Service & Leadership.

References (Separate Document)

Though references and reference statements (i.e., "References available upon request") were traditionally included on resumes for several decades, modern-day resumes omit this information unless specifically requested in an application.

Employers often ask for references at some point during a hiring process, but it is typically not necessary to use valuable resume space for this information. Instead, be ready with a list of two to four strong references on a separate document. This document should have the same header as your resume, followed by each reference's full name, position, current employer, and preferred contact information. It is also useful to include a sentence about your relationship to clarify how they know you.

No matter who you choose for your references, be sure to contact your references in advance to ask if they would be willing to provide a positive reference for you. It is also helpful to offer them your updated resume and any relevant information about the position(s) to which you are applying.

Here is an example of information to include about a reference on a separate document:

Jonathan Sanchez
Regional Manager for Central Coast, Starbucks
Phone: (555) 555-5555
Email: jon.sanchez@email.com
Relationship: Direct supervisor from 20xx - 20xx

PRO TIP

Having strong references is key to your career success. Build relationships early and often with professors, TAs, supervisors, and other people in your network. Any of these individuals can provide strong references, but your friends and family cannot.

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