Student Success Centre


The typical university student resume is black and white and contains detailed (or not so detailed!) information related to their past experiences, job functions and involvements.  If this sounds like the resume you’ve been using since high school to find a job, you may be surprised to hear that it is probably outdated and will not cut it in today’s competitive job market. Remember - the quality of your resume can help determine whether you get to the next step – the interview.

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The 4 Essential Elements of a Good Resume:

There are a few standard resume formats that will, in different ways, help to highlight your strengths, minimize possible areas of concern, and make you stand out. That being said, the style of resume you adopt does not have to limit how you organize your experiences, or the information you choose to include.  In fact, many students today are exercising their creativity and developing their own resume styles to diversify themselves and get to the top of the pile!

Regardless of the design or format you choose, there are a few key rules you will definitely want to follow:

1. It must be relevant and targeted

  • Tailor your resume to a specific position; information that you provide on your resume for one position may be different than information provided for another. In other words, do not mass produce your resume.
  • To see if you have relevant and targeted document, give it to a friend and have them guess the type of job you are going to be applying to – they should have no trouble doing this.
  • Identify and emphasize your relevant skills and experiences, but be selective - choose only those which highlight the qualifications of the position for which you are applying.
  • Demonstrate your knowledge of the company, matching the language in your resume to the language in the job posting/organization.

2. Skills and accomplishments matter!

  • Remember – Skills are developed from school, projects, volunteer, extra-curricular and work experiences.
  • Highlight the accomplishments from your experiences, not just the duties or tasks you completed. The bullet points under your experiences should NOT consist of a list of duties (unless some of the specific duties are very relevant to the job you’re applying for).
  • Use skill action verbs and accomplishment statements when describing what you did - proof of your actions and the results you achieved.

3. No room for errors

  • Be honest and accurate – you will be asked to validate your skills and accomplishments at an interview.
  • Bad spelling and grammar in a resume are near the top of the list for recruiters to reject  (this might reflect the quality of your work and attention to details).
  • Errors in your resume can detract from an otherwise good resume and make you look lazy or careless.
  • Carefully read through your resume to check for errors and read it out loud.
  • Don’t rely on your computer’s grammar checker because it won’t find every error.
  • Proofread your resume later, or the next day to look at it from a fresh perspective.
  • Have someone else review your resume - two sets of eyes are better than one.

4. Easy to read

  • Use standard fonts in an easy to read size; keep margins in a normal range.
  • Have a consistent format for headings and subheadings.
  • Use 1 complete or 2 complete pages – if you use the second page, your name and page number need to be located at the top or bottom of the page.
  • Check on industry standards for the length of your resume; for example, many business and finance resumes are only 1 page
  • Make points not paragraphs, and use phrases instead of full sentences.
  • Put the most important information in the top half of the first page.
  • Present a consistent theme which is communicated throughout the application process (cover letter, resume and interview).

Standard Resume Formats

Western Student Resume Examples

The majority of resumes included below represent actual documents of real students who have been offered an interview based on the submission of this resume.