How to create a successful resume?

Successful Resume Format

I have reviewed many Engineering resumes over the last 15 years and I have come up with the following sections for BS and MS students. These sections position students in the best light with recruiters.

The sections (in this order) for BS and MS resumes:

  1. Name and Address
  2. Objective
  3. Education
  4. Work Experience
  5. Research Experience
  6. Academic Projects
  7. Leadership
  8. Skills
  9. Honors and Awards

It is not necessary for you to use all of these sections and it is very important to keep the BS and MS resumes on one page. See discussion on Resume Basics. I will cover each of these sections in greater detail in upcoming blog entries.

You can include past, current, but not future…

Your resume can have information that you have already completed or information about work you are currently doing. For example, if you are currently enrolled in a class, you can list this class on your resume in the Education section. However, you should not put any information about work you have not started yet. For example, if you have a great final project in the class, but you have started on it yet, then you shouldn’t describe it in your resume. If you really want the recruiter to hear about this project, you can bring it up when the recruiter asks, “What courses are you taking now?” which is a very common question. In response, you can say “I’m taking Engineering NNNN and I would like to tell you about the final project where we will do XXXX.”

What are the additional Ph.D. sections?

For Ph.D. students, there are additional Ph.D. sections to add to your resume. While the Ph.D. resume is longer with more sections, it should still be concise and well-organized.

How important is good resume formatting?

Using good formatting in your resume is very important. There are many good formats for a resume. I like to see the resume split into sections as shown in this well-formatted BS and MS resume. The same rules apply to the well-formatted Ph.D. resume. But, I have seen many formats that are also nice. In my example, each section is capitalized and underlined allowing the recruiter to organize the information easily. I like to see all of the dates in the right column and no other information in the right column other than the dates. A good resume includes a fair amount of “white space” for readability. A well-formatted resume is also consistent. For example, if you start out using 3-character dates (ex. Apr, 2014), then continue using them throughout the resume. Finally, it is very important to proofread your resume so that it doesn’t include any errors like spelling mistakes. Many recruiters see resume errors as a “lack of attention to details”.

To read more, see my Paperback/Kindle book on

“My Recruiting Secrets for Engineering Students” (Published Sept, 2013)

You will find a full explanation with explicit examples of all of the topics in this Blog in my book. I cover the recruiting process, creating BS, MS, and Ph.D. resumes, preparing for the Career Fair and how to speak to recruiters, being ready for Behavioral Interviews, and succeeding in Internships, Co-ops, and Full-time jobs. The book contains over 40 illustrations of the major sections of a well-formatted resume.