Faculty Recruiting Support CICS

Resume Checklist

Answers to Common Resume Questions

Our team looks at hundreds of resumes each year and requests input from employers and alumni so that we can offer the most up-to-date advice on how to write a great resume for CICS students. Having said that, everyone has different opinions so ask your contacts for feedback and decide for yourself.

We assess resumes in terms of organization, content and formatting (in that order). Organization is key since recruiters might only spend seconds reading it before they decide. Content is how you convince them to interview you. And proper formatting is essential to show your attention to detail and ability to create quality work.

Let’s get started!

 

ORGANIZATION

  • For industry positions, keep to 1 page (but have a longer, comprehensive version that you can use to create multiple 1 pg versions)
  • Use a hidden table (template available) to more easily use the entire page – is there enough "white space" throughout the document to make it visually appealing
  • Consider one column of content instead of two to influence how readers scan the page (i.e., top to bottom) and reduce line wrapping of bullets
  • Name and contact information at the top (consider adding personal pronouns such as she/her next to or below your name)
  • Sections for education, work/professional experience, technical skills, and projects
  • No need for a summary statement or objective (Careercup.com recommendation) or references
  • Combine coursework in education section
  • Under work experience, header includes employer, role, dates (location optional)
  • Classify each line of skills (e.g., Programming Languages: Java, Python or tools, frameworks, platforms, operating systems, libraries); consider proficiency labels (e.g., basic, intermediate, advanced)
  • Consider listing skills in Project header with project name (dates and Github link optional)
  • Consider other sections at the bottom such as leadership experience, research experience, publications, awards, activities, or interests
  • Sections and content within sections prioritized based on relevance and importance (chronology is less important for an industry resume, especially with dates included)
  • Give more space / bullets to your highest priority, most relevant content

CONTENT

  • Usually use your full preferred name; include middle names only if you prefer to be called by your first and middle or middle only; middle initial may be useful if you have a very common first and last name
  • Include at least phone number and email address; protect your privacy by not showing phone number or mailing address on resumes that are publicly available
  • Pick your school or personal email, but don't confuse the reader by listing both
  • Mailing address is traditional but optional at this point
  • Consider including links to your GitHub, personal website, and/or LinkedIn (with customized URL)
  • No labels necessary (e.g., student [at] umass.edu instead of email: student [at] umass.edu)
  • Use "Expected Graduation: Month Year" instead of a span of time or "present"
  • Include GPA if it is high (i.e., 3.3+) or else use higher major GPA; include GPA on all career fair resumes since GPA minimums; consider grouping with other academic honors; avoid including or converting GPAs on 10.0 scale unless mandatory and you are in your first semester
  • Always "University of Massachusetts Amherst" or "UMass Amherst", not "University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA"  which is redundant and not the official name; consider "College of Information and Computer Sciences" too
  • Include higher ed transfer school details or undergraduate details
  • Coursework can be with each university of grouped together at the bottom of the ed section; abbreviate without course numbers and be selective, limiting to 1 or 2 lines max; separate and/or label current coursework clearly 
  • Only use acronyms if they are common or first explained ("Natural Language Processing (NLP)", then you can use "NLP" for any other references)
  • For each experience, share 2-5 bullets explaining tasks, actions, and results (S.T.A.R.), often with combinations (try Result + Task and Task + Action + Result)
  • For situation, if the employer or role is not well-known, provide context as part of the first bullet
  • For tasks, think about your key responsibilities or reference back to your job description
  • For actions, elaborate on the key steps you took to accomplish the task and be explicit about skills used
  • For results, check to make sure your bullets answer the question “so what?” Who did you benefit and how?
  • For adapting S.T.A.R. to projects, expand on the purpose, skills learned and/or developed, and outcomes
  • Omit filler words like "etc." and "various" and skip unnecessary articles like "a" and "the" since bullets beginning with action verbs aren't complete sentences anyways
  • Avoid repetition, except with keywords (e.g., Machine Learning) and skills (e.g., Python) which should be repeated throughout your sections to demonstrate proficiency
  • Do not include negative information, and don't downplay your achievements by describing them as "basic" or "simple"
  • Be sure each bullet begins with an action verb - see our CICS action verb list for ideas - which helps avoid using personal pronouns like “I”, “we” or “me”
  • Avoid "Worked on" and "Used" at the beginning of a bullet - there's usually a better verb later in the sentence so try reworking it starting with that verb instead
  • Match verb tense to dates (i.e., past tense or present if current role)
  • If you decided to share interests, pick one instead of listing several and make it memorable/unique
  • Spellcheck, read aloud, and have someone else read your resume
  • Update your resume Save As to “[full name] Resume” without dates, employer name, etc.

FORMATTING

  • Stick with regular fonts – i.e., Arial, Calibri, Times New Roman
  • Keep font size consistent throughout (typically 11-12) with only a few exceptions
  • Name should be larger (e.g., font size 16-24)
  • Use italics sparingly
  • Consider bolding only a few skills in bullets to emphasize and enable easier scanning
  • Don't use too much (or any) color since black and white keeps them focused on the content
  • Format phone as (123) 456-7890, avoiding +1 with the phone number unless you plan to apply for roles outside the US (it usually indicates you are an international student)
  • Be consistent with dates; don't switch from months to seasons; give dates similar placement and formatting as possible even in different sections; abbreviate months to 3 letters (Sep and Mar, not Sept and March)
  • Bullets should either have a period at the end, or not (be consistent); also be consistent with - or --
  • Avoid putting two sentences in the same bullet; try a comma and "ing" verb or separate into two bullets
  • Removed automatic indent on bullets (align left to maximize writing space)

Don't forget to upload your new resume to Handshake and make it visible to employers! Now that you've done our checklist, click the button below to get our CICS Careers team to review and send you final suggestions by email.

Request CICS Careers Resume Review