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!


  • For industry positions, prioritize your most relevant info in 1 page, but have a longer, comprehensive version that you can use to create multiple 1 pg versions; CVs for research or grad school are multiple pages and follow different rules
  • Include sections for education (usually first), work/professional experience, skills, and projects
  • Give more space/bullets to your highest priority, most relevant content
  • Use a Word hidden table template or LaTeX template to more easily use the entire page, distributing “white space” throughout the document and right aligning content in the right column so you don’t need to tab or space; remember to hide the table lines
  • 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)
  • No need for a summary statement or objective (Careercup.com recommendation)
  • Combine coursework in the education section, either with each university or 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 
  • Under work experience, the header includes employer, role, dates (location optional)
  • Classify each line of skills, mirroring what is requested on the job description (e.g., Programming Languages: Java, Python or tools, frameworks, platforms, operating systems, libraries); professional “soft” skills are best demonstrated in bullets versus listed; Spoken Languages encouraged – switch from Technical Skills to just Skills for header
  • Consider listing skills in Project header with project name (dates and Github link optional); listing skills at the bottom is less effective for guiding readers to relevant info
  • Consider other sections at the bottom such as leadership, research or volunteering experience, publications, awards or honors, activities, or interests
  • Do not include or mention references since, if required, are often needed after interviews
  • Prioritize sections and content within sections based on relevance and importance (chronology is less important for an industry resume, especially with dates included)


  • 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; if personal, make sure it is professional and not prone to typos
  • Mailing address is traditional but optional at this point; if a location is a goal, listing town and state might be advantageous
  • Consider including links to your GitHub, personal website or portfolio, and/or LinkedIn (with customized URL and without visually showing the preceding https://www.)
  • No labels necessary on contact info and links (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"; the month is important since it can differentiate interns from full-time
  • 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" without a comma or dash, and also not "University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA"  which is redundant and not the official name; consider "Manning College of Information and Computer Sciences" too
  • Include higher ed transfer school details or undergraduate details
  • Add a separate line under coursework for certifications and online courses; for example, Certifications & Online Courses: AWS, IBM Cybersecurity Analyst Professional (Coursera)
  • 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 or in the header
  • 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 (this is more effective than inconsistent and ambiguous proficiency labels)
  • For results, check to make sure your bullets answer the question “so what?” Who did you benefit and how? Quantify when possible.
  • 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 with consistent capitalization throughout your sections to demonstrate proficiency; avoid repeating the words from the project title in the first project bullet
  • 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 “our”
  • 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.


  • 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) to make it more memorable
  • Avoid unusual formatting that might render poorly or incorrectly in an applicant tracking system (ATS)
  • Use italics sparingly since it can be harder to read
  • Consider bolding only a few skills or keywords 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; hyperlinks are easier to read without the blue and underline
  • Save professional photos for your LinkedIn profile, not your resume, since it distracts from 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)
  • End bullets with or without a period in the end, but 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; a mix of one and two-line bullets is optimal (avoid three lines)
  • Removed automatic indent on bullets shrink bullet size to match font size and reduce the gap between bullet and text 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