Resume Guidelines

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A resume is not a list of accomplishments and activities. The best resumes present an applicant as the obvious choice for a position. Think about your ultimate goal as you prepare the resume – this will help you decide what to highlight, what to include, and what to omit.  
  • We usually transmit resumes electronically. It is best if your resume is saved in Word, WordPerfect, or as an Adobe file. Keep in mind that many government agencies use slightly dated software. If your software version is the very latest, please be sure that it can be read by earlier versions.
  • Use a minimum of formatting and a widely accepted font. No one wants to download Flash Player to read your resume. And nothing detracts from impressive accomplishments quite like Comic San Serif.
  • Do not use jargon. Everyone on your campus may know what QOTSA is, but federal managers do not. Organizations whose missions are not readily apparent from their title require a parenthetical explanation.
  • A little white space is nothing to fear. No prospective boss rejects a resume as “too empty” – but several will toss aside resumes cluttered to the point of being illegible.
  • With very few exceptions, your resume should fit on one page. If you must resort to 6 point font with ½ inch margins – please seek help immediately. Some tips for achieving one page:
  1. Eliminate sections like “objective” or “references” – they can be included in the cover letter or provided later.
  2. Include only your current address.
  3. Do not list every activity – include only those that are either related to the position or very significant. A resume that includes a laundry list of activities appears scattered and sends the message that the applicant cannot decide how best to present him/herself.
  4. Condense sections – consider including awards under your educational information; have experience and activities combined in one section.
  • We are happy to accept more than one resume. You may wish to send both a short resume and a longer one. You may also want to develop a resume for each of your areas of interest. If you are interested in both education and politics – you may want to send one resume that highlights your volunteer experience with children and another that details your campaign involvement.
  • If you have an exceptionally partisan resume, but would like to be considered for jobs with the other side, consider developing a non-partisan resume. This resume would not excise all references to your partisan past – but would be limited to those activities that were significant. Even the most partisan director is willing to seriously consider an enemy if the applicant has the skills and experience necessary for the job.
  • Consider taking your resume to career services, your family, or friends in the real world. How they react to your resume can tell you a great deal about whether you are presenting yourself correctly. Family members are also aces at spotting typos.
If you are still having trouble, we are happy to assist in whatever way we can. The better your resume is, the easier it is to place you.