student on laptop in front of window writing a resume

How to write a resume

The document that markets your skills and experience to employers

A clear, tailored and professional resume is essential for any job application. It should aim to convince an employer that your qualifications, work experience and skillset make you a strong match for the job.

What is a resume?

A resume, or curriculum vitae (CV), is a summary of your education, employment experience, skills and relevant aspects of your extracurricular activities. It’s also a marketing document to promote your suitability to a recruiter or prospective employer. The aim of a resume is to gain an invitation to an interview.

Your resume and cover letter may be your first contact with the employer, so it’s important to make a good first impression by presenting your qualifications, skills and achievements clearly, positively, and truthfully. You should always research your target organisation and adjust your resume to be individually tailored to each job vacancy.

Formatting your resume

  • Your resume may be scanned by a recruiter in as little as 10 seconds, so ensure the information is clear and easy to read.
  • Include key competencies from the job vacancy you are responding to, as a software program may scan for key words in the first cull of applications.
  • Highlight your most relevant and recent information early in your resume to encourage the recruiter to continue reading.
  • Use perfect spelling and grammar. Proofread and have someone else read it.
  • Use professional vocabulary and active verbs, eg ‘organised’, ‘achieved’, ‘developed’.
  • Know the appropriate length for your industry (1-3 pages for most industries; longer for an academic or research resume).
  • Include your name and the page number in a footer from page 2 onwards.
  • Style it as a business document with bullet points, fonts, spacing and indentation applied in a consistent way.
  • Use font sizes between 10 and 12 point for body text, and larger font for headings. Arial, Tahoma or Calibri are safe resume fonts to use, but be consistent with how you use them and don’t use more than two.

Checking your resume

CV360 is a online tool providing instant, automated feedback on your resume. CV360 is a free service for all students at the University. Upload your resume or for further information read our CV360 guide.