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Resume Layout and Production

When you are ready to produce your resume after you have selected a format and developed the content, here are several fundamental rules for your resume lay-out and production:

Before you begin:

To create your resume use a standard word processing program such as Microsoft Word, but DO NOT use the wizards and/or templates provided for resumes! These formats are not the best, and are extremely hard to modify. Open a blank document and simply start entering your information (we encourage students to utilize the sample resumes in this handbook as guides).

While Entering Information:

Once you’ve started writing your resume you should include everything that you can think of: all employment, all education, experiences, committees, activities, memberships, volunteer work etc. Once you’ve finished you can go back and edit the resume, deciding what is most important and what can be omitted.

When you’ve finished:

The final product should (and must) be flawless. There can be no spelling or punctuation errors, as even one error can indicate a lack of attention to detail and reflect poorly upon you. Employers expect resumes to be flawless. We recommend that you have 2 or 3 people look over your resume. It’s easier to catch mistakes when there are multiple eyes checking the final product. Also, feel free to make an appointment with a Career Services staff member to go over your resume. You can also email your resume as an attachment to Rachel Yudell, career counselor at r.yudell@usip.edu and she will be happy to look it over and return it to you with corrections and suggestions.


There is no universal resume format. There are only guidelines. The sample resumes are also intended for that purpose.

  • Length – Keep your resume to one page, as this is the recommended length for traditional college students. Be as concise as possible, but don’t leave out essentials. Most employers say that it is ok to have 2 pages of IMPORTANT information.
  • Margins – Margins should be kept at .7” top and bottom and 1” for the left and right margins. If you are having difficulty fitting your information onto one page, margins can be made as small as .5” top and bottom and .5” left and right.
  • Type Size/Font – Type size should be between 10 – 12 point font. Choose a consistent font (e.g. Ariel, Tahoma, Times New Roman or Verdana.) that is easy to read. Limit the number of font sizes to no more than three (for instance, your name can be 14 pt font, while the rest of your resume is in 11pt font).
  • Style
    • Remember not to use wizards and templates! They are too difficult to modify and are not the best format.
    • Always try to use the TAB key instead of the space bar to align or move text (TAB function will line things up exactly).
    • Use various design elements (e.g. bullets, lines, italics and bold face) to create a new appearance and to draw the readers attention to important parts of your resume.
    • Do not use abbreviations (i.e. St., B.S., PharmD or Nov.). Write out all words completely (i.e. Street, Bachelor of Sciences, Doctor of Pharmacy and November). It is easier to read and looks much nicer and more professional.
    • Weigh you choice of words. Select strong action verbs, concrete nouns, and positive modifiers. Use concise phrases and clauses rather than complete sentences. State your points concisely and do not exaggerate your duties and accomplishments. But – also be careful not to under-sell yourself.
  • Printing Your Resume - Use a heavier bond plain resume paper in light beige, ivory or cream. Also make sure that your reference page and cover letter are printed on the same type of paper. Also use a laser jet printer (not an ink jet) or a very high quality photocopy.
  • Organizing Your Sub-Headings – The sequence of your resume should begin with the most important items (i.e. Education if you are still in school or just graduated then experience if you have relevant experience).
Key points to remember:
  • Use 8 1/2 by 11 inch paper.
  • Use white, off-white or light ecru color paper.
  • The paper needs to be bonded paper with at least a 25% cotton rag content. Avoid paper that is "textured"
  • Laser print your resume so it is crisp and professional. Do not photocopy.
  • The text of your resume needs to be visually balanced on the page. Your top and bottom margins need to be equal, as well as the left and right margins. Follow the same format throughout the resume.
  • If your first section heading is bolded and a larger case than the section information, the second section heading needs to be in the identical format.
  • Place the skills or experiences that will get you hired towards the top and left of the page. We read left to right, top to bottom. You want the employer to see the most critical things first.
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