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Marquette University
Career Services Center

Holthusen Hall, First Floor
1324 W. Wisconsin Avenue
P.O. Box 1881
Milwaukee, WI 53201-1881
Phone: (414) 288-7423
Fax: (414) 288-5302
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Resume & Cover Letter Writing: Quick Tips for Avoiding Common Mistakes

Design: Resumes tend to be very conservative in format with the primary goal being readability. In some fields, such as advertising, marketing, and fine arts, creativity is more acceptable and, often expected. Creativity however should not deter from the overall content and flow of a resume.

Font: Typically we recommended not using a font smaller than 11. A 10 font size is too small and should only be used if absolutely necessary.

Tabs: Use tabs instead of spacing in order to keep everything aligned.

Objective: Adding an objective helps the employer know for which positions you are applying. Try and include those experiences on your resume that demonstrate skills related to your objective. Be sure to include an objective that is specific without generalizations and what I would call "fluff." Doesn't everybody want a challenging position?

Templates: Typically we recommend not using a template. Employers see so many resumes and notice quite easily who is using a template. Instead use a format that best highlights your skills. Start with a clean word document or convert your resume from a table to text by selecting the table to be converted, under the table menu select convert, then table to text. Be sure to clear all formatting before re-formatting it with tabs, bold, bullets, and more.

Strengths: Think of 2-3 strengths that set you apart from your peers. When you look back on your experiences, what are the skills you gained or used that made you most proud? What did your supervisors praise you for? List those here in a specific and professional way. What are your transferable skills?

Education: Be sure to include your degree and date of graduation. It can be written like this: Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with majors in Finance and Marketing. Understanding Your Degree.

Class Projects: If you have little experience that is related to your career objective, think about class projects that might demonstrate your skills. List these just like a position with the name of the project, name of the class, Marquette University, and semester (Fall 20XX). Then list the objective of the project just like you would list your action word phrases under each position.

Student Activities: Use your involvement experience to demonstrate your skills. List these just like a position with your title (member, membership chair, and president), name of the organization, Marquette University, and dates. Then list the objective of the project just like you would list your action word phrases under each position.

Career Related Experience: Separate out the experiences that best relate to your objective. Use headings such as Career Related Experience or even naming each section based on your career goals such as Marketing Experience or Leadership experience. This tactic helps to make the connection for employers from what you've done to what you can do. It also allows you to put your more career-related experiences toward the top even if they are not the most recent.

Action Word: Action words help demonstrate what skills and experience you have that would help an employer know why he or she should hire you. Be sure to use bulleted lists to help the reader.

Use of pronouns: Eliminate all use of pronouns (I, me, my, etc). Instead, use action word phrases and bulleted statements that make the resume easier to read.

One Page: If possible, use a one page resume for new and recent grads. If you have trouble fitting all of your information on one page, drop by for drop-in hours or make an appointment with a Career Counselor.

Margins:If having difficulties reducing the information on your resume to one page, try adjusting the margins. The rule of thumb is to have an inch margin around, but it's okay to extend the top and bottom margin.

High School Education: Do not include your high school graduation on your resume; employers expect this from a college graduate.

Location of Your Experiences: Indicate the city and state location of your educational and work experiences on your resume. This way, employers know where you worked and/or studied.

Dates of Your Experiences: Indicate the month and year you began and ended your position. If you have still doing it, list the month and date to Present.