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Writing Your Resume

    Resume Formats

    There are three basic resume formats that are standard. How you choose the appropriate one among them can depend on the amount of relevant experience you have and the sections of the resume that you wish to emphasize.

    Chronological Resume

    This is traditionally the most frequently used resume format. It provides a description of each job you have held, starting with the most recent and moving back in time. For co-op it can include relevant classes you have taken, your interests, academic honors, and special skills.

    Functional Resume

    This type of resume focuses on transferable skills, aptitudes, and qualities that were learned in one setting, but are useful in a variety of situations. This kind of resume is useful for someone whose background may not directly match the job for which they are applying. One drawback of this resume is that it can be difficult to follow the sequence of your work history.

    Combination Resume

    This resume format is used to emphasize skills acquired through past work experience. The primary difference between a chronological resume and the combination resume is the order in which that work experience appears. Instead of going in reverse chronological order, combination resumes group work experience according to the most important function of the job. On this resume format, the employer’s name, location, and position title are listed together with the job description. Alongside or just above the employment listing is a header that may say something like “communication,” “administrative,” or “technical.”

    Before You Get Started

    Your resume should demonstrate your value to a potential employer. Therefore, before you begin it is essential that you do some research. What kinds of skills, experience, and background are important to potential employers in your field? What attributes do you have that would be of interest to a potential employer? To find out, use the internet to research jobs that interest you. Look at the job requirements that occur most frequently. Hunt for key words and phrases that are common to the industry. Visit professional organization websites. Get to know what skills and attributes employers are looking for in a candidate. Then do some self-evaluation. What do you have to offer an employer? Highlight your skills, strengths, and accomplishments that fit the expectations and needs of jobs in your field. Remember to examine all facets of your life: work, volunteer, and activities. After all, managing the basketball team for four years might be more relevant than your paid job at the convenience store.

    Sections in a Resume

    There are 11 basic sections of a resume. You may or may not use all of them, and Steinbright encourages you to tailor your resume as much as possible to highlight your talents, strengths, and experiences.

    1. Contact Information

    Your full name, address, telephone number, and email address should appear at the top of the resume. You must decide if you want to include your local address, your home address, or both. It really depends on where you plan to send your resume and where you want to be contacted.

    2. Job Objective

    A job objective is not necessary when applying for co-op jobs, and, in fact, it may be limiting to co-op students who are trying to explore different career fields. For a student seeking a co-op job outside the SCDConline interviewing process, a goal can be stated in a cover letter. Job objectives are most appropriate for graduating students and post graduates who have become more focused in their career goals.

    3. Educational Background

    List your education in reverse chronological order. Include the degree you earned or are currently pursuing, your major(s), your date of graduation or anticipated graduation date, and the name and city of your school. Listing your high school is optional for co-op, but not recommended unless it is very prestigious or well-known high school or a field-related charter school. If you took college courses while in high school, that information can be included. Since in most cases you were not pursuing a specific degree you can just put "Major: General Studies." Transfer students should list previous schools. See the example below.

    While there are no definitive rules, a 3.0 GPA and above is notable and should be mentioned in this section.


    Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA
    Bachelor of Science in English, Anticipated Graduation: June 20XX
    Cumulative GPA: 3.3

    My Previous University, Scranton, PA
    Major: English, September, 20XX - June 20XX
    Cumulative GPA: 3.8

    4. Honors/Awards

    List any honors (Dean’s List, honor societies, scholarships awarded, etc.) and the year in which you received them. It is acceptable to list honors and awards that you received both in high school and college. If the source of the award is not clear, spell it out (Community Service Corps versus CSC.) As you gain more honors at the college level, you can begin to eliminate your high school achievements, keeping those that are particularly unique.

    5. Computer Skills

    For majors where computer skills are a key component of a co-op job, you should create a separate section. For other majors, computer skills can be one of several items under a general Skills Section. (See item #8.

    If you do have a Computer Section, be sure to list hardware, software, languages, and operating systems.


    Computer Skills
    Hardware: IBM, Macintosh
    Software: Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook, Adobe Photoshop
    Languages: C++, JavaScript, HTML
    Operating Systems: Windows NT, Mac OS X, DOS, UNIX.

    6. Relevant Coursework

    List six to ten courses by name that relate specifically to your major or career goals. The purpose is to convince potential employers that you possess the fundamental skills for the position. When listing courses, write out the name of the course so that it is descriptive. For example, Economics I and II should be listed as Microeconomics and Macroeconomics. Do not refer to courses as 101, 201, etc. Rather, use Roman numerals (Ex., Civil Engineering I, II, III) if necessary.

    For the majority of graduating seniors and professionals, it will not be necessary to include a listing of coursework. Instead, if you have acquired skills from coursework that you would like to emphasize consider adding to the resume a “Special Skills” or “Qualifications Statement” and then add in statements that highlight the specific skill or ability.

    7. Experience

    List all of those experiences which demonstrate your knowledge, accomplishments, skills, and strengths. It is important not to limit your experience to just "paid" jobs. Often your unpaid accomplishments (chaired the local cookie drive, developed a website for a recreational baseball league) are as important as your time spent working at the mall. Some examples of relevant experience are the Freshman Engineering Design Project, Interior Design projects, film/photo projects, volunteer experiences, and significant high school activities.

    It is important that you organize your experiences in the best possible order to highlight the skills and strengths relevant to a potential employer. For example, you are applying for engineering jobs. Currently you are delivering pizzas but last summer you worked for an engineering firm. You would want to highlight your engineering experience so you might have two separate sections: Related Experience and Other Experience. Your engineering design project could be a third section. This applies to all majors: I am currently delivering pizzas but last summer I (fill in relevant experience here.)

    See “How to Write an Experience Description” at the end of this section for more detailed information.

    8. Special Skills

    This category can be used to note relevant skills that may be important to a potential employer. For example, experience with tax forms, computer languages, familiarity with laboratory equipment, technical knowledge of cameras/editing equipment, CPR and other certifications, and travel experience can be essential to some positions.


    Computer: Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook, Photoshop
    Certifications: CPR, First Aid
    Languages: Spanish (fluent), Mandarin Chinese (conversational)

    9. Activities or Professional Associations

    Your activities and volunteer experiences are a good way to highlight those skills that are difficult to quantify but still very important to potential employers, e.g. leadership, ability to work in a team, and time management. Organizational memberships and elected offices can also demonstrate those qualities. List the activity, your participation if significant, (e.g. president, group leader), and the dates that you participated. Start with your most recent activities and moving in reverse chronological order.



    • Drexel University Yearbook, Activities Editor, September 20XX–Present
    • Drexel University Intramural Lacrosse, September 20XX–May 20XX
    • Walk for the Cure Volunteer Day, April 20XX

    10. Volunteer Experience

    Volunteer experience is important to list on a resume because employers are interested in learning about your contributions to your community. Depending upon the duration of your service, level of commitment, and relevance to your career field you may choose to list such experiences in different ways. You may choose to briefly mention an experience in the Activities Section (see Walk for the Cure example above.) If there are skills which are important to a potential employer you may choose instead to expand the description of what you did into an Experience Section.


    Junior Achievement Program
    West Philadelphia Elementary School, Philadelphia, PA
    Teaching Assistant, January 20XX– June 20XX

    • Supervised class of 20 eight-year-olds
    • Assisted in preparation of lesson plans; implemented plans
    • Individually tutored children ages 8 - 12 after school hours in Math and Writing

    11. References

    Many first time co-op student resumes state, “References available upon request.” This statement is not necessary as it is usually understood that you will supply references if an employer requests them. Prepare a separate sheet that includes your contact information along with the names, addresses, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses of your professional and/or personal references. Generally, three references are sufficient. Make sure you gain permission from these people before supplying their names and determine where they would like to be contacted (home, work, school).

    Reference samples

    Additional Resume Guidelines

    • In general, limit your resume to one full page as a co-op student and even as a recent graduate. Experienced professionals or graduate level students may extend to two full pages.
    • Proofread your resume for spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors. Then have another person proofread your resume for additional errors. Do not rely solely on a spell check program.
    • Be proud of your accomplishments but never exaggerate or falsify information (e.g., inflated GPA, fabricated work experience.) Employers will check your references and background information.
    • Do not list a desired salary or previous salary history.
    • Do not write the word “Resume” at the top or the date you wrote your resume.
    • Avoid abbreviations (State abbreviations are acceptable).
    • Never include personal information such as height, weight, eye/hair color, marital status, religious affiliation, social security number, or visa status/nationality.