Page margins: 1/2 to 1 inch on all sides generally look fine.
Font size: Except for your name, which can be larger, font sizes of 10, 11 or 12 generally look fine. Note that font sizes are not the same in each font style e.g. Arial 12 is much larger than Times 12. If you have trouble getting your content on one page, try a slightly smaller font style or size. Sometimes you can enter a half-size, such as 10.5, 11.5, etc.
Spacing: Single spacing usually works best, with a blank line between each section of content. If you need to change your spacing in your version of Word and can't find how to do that, use the "Help" function in Word.
Heading: Create your heading with your name, phone, email, and college and permanent addresses.
Simple technique for content layout: Create a table with one column for headings, another column for content, and one row for each heading section. Before you finalize, set borders to "no border" so the lines don't appear on your document. With table format, it's easy to resize and realign your content as you revise your resume. This helps to avoid tabbing and tedious, less effective spacing to align content. Use the "Help" function in Word if you need it.
Use Microsoft Word docx. Be extremely cautious if you select a resume template. Many are too complicated in layout, have excessive shading or other formatting features that are not recommended.
A risk with a template is choosing one with categories and headings that do not suit your background or best present your qualifications for the positions you are seeking.
The most common resume format is called "chronological" and is really reverse chronological, meaning most recent items first. Within each section [education, experience, activities, etc.] list entries with most recent items first. If you're uncertain what format to use, this is a good way to start a draft of your resume. Most of the samples are variations on the chronological format. You may also hear the terms "functional" or "creative" used to describe resumes. These are just variations on the chronological format that use headings that best showcase your background and qualifications.
A skills resume combines the skills you have from a variety of experiences — paid work, volunteer work, student activities, classroom work, projects, etc. — and groups these skills by category that relate to the kind of job you're seeking. This format works best when a traditional resume just doesn't work to make you look like a good candidate even though you have relevant skills. But use caution: many employers don't favor skills-format resumes. A Career and Professional Development advisor can look at your first resume draft and help you decide if a skills format might be the best approach to use.
Start with content and sections of your resume. Write out everything you have in your background, even if it is initially too much information. Edit from there.
Do look at many samples, and the features of each. Choose the combination of features that matches your background.
Don't look only at samples. No one sample includes all possible resume content. You may need content not included in the samples you view.
Don't choose a resume style simply because the fictional student in a sample has your major. Major doesn't dictate the style of your resume; use the style that best showcases your qualifications which are not limited to major.
You may choose any style regardless of the type of employment you are seeking, whether internship, co-op, or post-graduation employment.
Do choose a format which best shows how your individual credentials support your objective.
If you are unsure, start with a chronological style, have your resume reviewed, and revise your resume as needed.
Creative, non-traditional resumes are appropriate only if you're in a creative field, and YOU actually create the creative resume. (Question: If you pay someone to create it, how does that show YOUR creativity? Answer: it doesn't.)
It is up to you to provide your resume in the format requested or required by the employer. That may or may not allow room for something creative, depending on format, files type, etc. It's possible you could develop a creative-format resume to show and/or send employers, but you might also need a more traditional version for times and situations when that is what the employer needs or requires.
Examples of creative resumes:
Web designer depot.com showcasing design skills — appropriate for designers.
Not for copying. Be original.
Remember if you pay someone to do this for you, that says nothing about your creativity.
And remember not all employers want to see/receive these.
"Scannable resume" refers to a hard copy document that can be successfully scanned using technology (OCR=Optical Character Recognition; developed in the 1970s) that scans the content of a paper document as a graphic image and then converts it back to text. This enabled employers to receive hard-copy resumes, get that resume information into a database (to handle the volume of resumes received!), and retrieve the resume later. Read more about scannable resumes and what to do if an employer asks for one.
Should I create a video resume?
Most advice says no. Why not? Many reasons, including quality, the need for employers to be consistent in how they consider applicants, videos can be time-consuming to view, potential for allegations of bias, and sometimes the job-seeker looks foolish.
Keep in mind that a video resume is not the same as a video work sample that you might include in a portfolio. There are occasions when providing a video work sample may be very appropriate to provide when applying for jobs related to video production or broadcasting.
If someone says to create a video resume, look at why: Usually they are trying to sell you something!
More about video resumes:
- No One Wants to See Your Video Resume .... Really!
- Video Resumes: Let the Applicant Beware
Monster.com career advice
Most companies do not accept them. Better to focus your energy on error-free, targeted resumes and customized cover letters.
- Job Hunters Seek Winning Edge in Video Resumes (NPR.org)
Cautions job seekers and employers. In 2006 a business wanted to pitch to college students that video resumes were the next big thing. We know that didn't happen!
All names are fictional, and each sample is one page unless otherwise noted.
Remember the caution not to look at just one sample and copy it! You are unique and your resume will not look exactly like anyone else's! The samples show you some variety and help give you ideas.
B.S. in progress.
Freshman student seeking 3-term co-op.
Availability indicated because co-op work term availability varies by student and when you need to be in school for courses.
Doesn't yet have career-related experience.
B.A. in progress.
Sophomore level student seeking summer job/internship.
Has experience, volunteer work and student leadership related to career field of interest; these are detailed.
"Other" experience section; one line per job; detail not needed.
Arial 11 font.
Same as above.
Candara 11 font.
Federal government resume style.
B.S. degree in progress; junior academic level.
More than one page to accomodate federal government resume preferences.
See more about federal job search
Times New Roman 12 font.
B.S. almost completed; seeking job at graduation.
Coursework to show specialty and focus (not basic courses taken by anyone in the same major)
Extensive skills section related to career field.
Arial 10 font.
Same as above.
Corbel 10.5 font.
B.A. candidate with coursework outside major that supports the objective; includes language skills.
Junior academic level.
Relevant campus job and student media experience.
Century Gothic 11 font.
Bachelor's degree; seeking job at graduation.
Study abroad in education section.
Design skills section. Portfolio link.
Palatino Linotype 10 font.
Bachelor's degree, seeking job at graduation.
Completing degree in August (indicate your real completion month/year, not when you "walk")
Goes by middle-name/nickname; shown in heading.
Course project detailed.
GPA shown to 100th decimal place because close to next 10th decimal place; rounding up would be inaccurate and could appear dishonest.
Traditional font choice: Times New Roman 11.
Bachelor's degree, double major and minor.
Study abroad and Washington Semester in education section.
Language skills related to objective.
"Related" and "other" experience.
Details on colleges activity involving organizational skills.
Book Antiqua 10 font.
Earning two bachelor's degrees (distinct from double major)
University Registrar FAQs: What is the difference between and double major and a second degree?
Details on student leadership role.
Calibri 11 font.
B.S. degree being completed, seeking job at graduation.
Related and other experience categories.
Selective bolding helps key items stand out.
Tahoma 10 font.
Skills resume. Summarizes skills from a variety of sources: work, class projects, student activities. Seek advice if you take this approach; some employers do not favor skills resumes; but these can be effective tools for some job seekers.
Garamond 11.5 font.
M.S. in progress. Seeking position at completion.
Both degrees from Virginia Tech.
Related and "other" experience separate sections. Details on related experience; no details needed for other experience.
Verdana 9.5 font.
Same as above.
Slight format change
Calibri 11 font.
Curriculum vitae; multiple pages expected.