Jump Start Your Resume

We all have to start somewhere…with our resumes, that is. Resumes don’t just happen. They are built over time as you start and complete experiences that move you forward in your career. Once you enter college, it’s time to get cracking on that resume.


Here are some tips for starting your resume from scratch. Keep in mind that some of these tips might help you with a resume you’ve already started.

  • Start with a blank Word document. As many students discover, Word comes with resume templates. In fact, I wrote my first resume using one of them. DON’T DO IT! Word resume templates can be spotted a mile away, and they will not make a good impression. Create your resume truly from scratch – You’ll thank me later.
  • Outline the basic resume sections. Starting with an outline of sections will help in two ways. First, it’s much easier to remember your experiences when you have “blanks” to fill in. Second, if you haven’t had much or any experience, you will have an idea of where to start gaining some. Basic sections for a resume include:
    • Education
    • Experience (for jobs, internships, long-term volunteer positions, etc.)
    • Computer Skills
    • Activities (for organizations, sports, short-term community service, etc.)
    • Honors & Awards
  • Begin writing down your experiences for each section. Fill in what you can on your resume. When you run out of information, stop. Now that you’ve started your resume and have an idea of what goes on it, your memory might produce more content when you least expect it. Whenever you remember something else that should be on your resume, write it down as soon as you can, either as a note to yourself or right into your document.
  • Give your resume draft a face lift. At this point, your resume is in a skeleton form. It’s just a document with a bunch of information listed. Eventually, you need to polish it and make it look pretty. One of the best ways to start is to meet with a career advisor. In Career & Leadership Development, career advisors can steer you towards good sample resumes for ideas. If you really love the look of a friend’s resume, mimic the formatting on your resume. Everyone’s resume will (and should) look a little different, so there are a lot of formats out there. You just want to make sure you use or develop a good one.
  • Go over your resume with a career advisor. If you haven’t already done so, meet with a career advisor to go over your resume. This step will start taking your resume from the minor leagues to the majors in a hurry.

This week, Career & Leadership Development will be hosting our first Resume Doctor events for the semester. Drop by for a quick resume review. No appointment is necessary. We see students on a first come, first served basis.

All you need to bring with you is your resume and any questions you might have. Don’t have a resume yet? Stop by and pick up one of our sample resumes to help get you started!

Photo by Justin Cook.

This entry was posted in Resumes and tagged , by Laura Morrow-Jacobs. Bookmark the permalink.

About Laura Morrow-Jacobs

Laura Morrow-Jacobs, Career Consultant/Marketing Specialist with Career & Leadership Development at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, advises UW-Whitewater students pursuing internships and assists employers with UW-Whitewater intern recruitment. Laura is a firm believer in the importance of career-related work experience, having benefited from it personally. As a graduate student, she completed three internships, and she was even gaining what turned out to be career-related experience as an undergrad through three separate student leader positions. She hopes that all students pursue some form of career-related work experience before graduation. In her opinion, it is never to early to start preparing - even beginning to plan as early as freshman year! Laura loves to discuss internship search strategies with students and is excited to hear about students’ successes in their internships. UW-Whitewater students are doing amazing work! Laura has been a professional at UW-Whitewater since 2006. She has been a member of the National Society for Experiential Education (NSEE) and participant in the NSEE Experiential Education Academy. She is also active with the Milwaukee Area College Internship Consortium (MACIC), currently serving as Web Manager and having held leadership positions as Secretary, President-Elect, and President. Laura graduated from UW-Madison with a BA in french and political science. She received her master’s degree in counseling from UW-Whitewater.