Resume Basics: Content and Design


This outline provides important information about both the content and design of an effective résumé.


  • Name, address, telephone, e-mail address, web site address (All your contact information should go at the top of your résumé like a letterhead)
    • Avoid nicknames
    • Use a permanent address
    • Use a permanent telephone number and include the area code. Record a neutral greeting on your answering machine
    • Include an e-mail address. Many employers will find it useful. (Note: Choose an e-mail address that sounds professional. Avoid things like
    • Include your web site address only if the web page reflects your professional ambitions
    • Put your name, phone number and e-mail address on the top-right hand corner of your second page in case the pages are separated
  • Work Experience
    • Briefly give the employer an overview of your work experience.. Use action words to describe your job duties.
    • Include your work experience in reverse chronological order – that is, put your last job first and work backward to your first job.
    • 10 years is probably sufficient unless there is a job in your distant past that is relevant to your current career goals
    • Title of position
    • Name of organization
    • Location of work (city, country)
    • Dates of employment (just the years, not the months)
    • Describe your work responsibilities with emphasis on specific skills and achievements
  • Education
    • New graduates without a lot of work experience should list their educational information before work experience.
    • Your most recent educational information is listed first
    • Include your degree (B.Sc., B.A., PhD. etc.), major (if relevant), institution attended
    • Mention academic honors
  • Other information
    • You may want to add:
    • Volunteer experience
    • Hobbies (these are rarely relevant but may be useful if they show team work)
    • Sports (use only if you are a mature worker, that will show that you are active and fit)
  • References
    • Do not list your references on your resume. You may note at the bottom of your resume “References furnished on request” but this is not necessary.
    • Ask people if they are willing to serve as references before you give their names to a potential employer.
    • Your reference list should be written down on a separate page to minimize errors.
    • Put your contact information on the top of the reference list so it is not misfiled.
    • Make sure that the names are spelt correctly and that the phone numbers, addresses and e-mail addresses are correct and current.


These tips will make your resume easier to read and/or scan into an employer’s data base.

  • Use white or off-white paper (colours, including pale grey and pale blue, distort when FAXed)
  • Use 8-1/2- x 11-inch paper
  • Print on one side of the paper only
  • Use a font size of 10 to 14 points
  • Use basic fonts (Times New Roman, Courier, etc.)
  • Choose one font and stick to it
  • Avoid italics, script, and underlined words
  • Do not use horizontal or vertical lines, graphics, or shading
  • Do not fold or staple your resume
  • If you must mail your resume, put it in a large envelope