Get started writing your resume with our template and checklist!

Step 1: Download and use the resume worksheet to get started!

Step 2: Use the CLA Career Services resume template and checklist to guide you through creating and editing your resume

Resume writing can seem intimidating, especially if you’ve never done it before. But it’s actually easier than most students think. 

In fact, it can even be fun. 

It’s gratifying to see your accomplishments, skills, and Core Career Competencies come to life on paper. You begin to realize just how much you’ve done and learned as a liberal arts student—and thus how much you have to offer to prospective employers (or graduate/professional school programs, as the case may be). You see with your own eyes how you are becoming career-ready.

There is work involved in resume development: thinking, planning, organizing, writing, editing, proofreading … and proofreading some more. But it’s all worth it in the end when you produce a document that clearly stands out and compels the reader to think: “I’ve got to give this person a call.”

Take a look at how to create a standout resume, broken down by the main questions you likely have:

Resume Reviews: Available to All CLA Students

Do you want help getting started on your resume or looking for feedback on your resume draft? Visit drop-ins for guidance or submit your document for asynchronous feedback.

What Is the Purpose of a Resume?

As you get started working on your resume, you may (quite naturally) be wondering: “Why do I have to write a resume in the first place? What’s its purpose?”

One very practical answer is that employers expect you to have one; you can’t really, not have one! Résumés (and cover letters) are an ingrained, commonplace aspect of the world of work.

But the real purpose behind your resume is to help you quickly explain your skills and competencies, qualifications, and fit for a position being filled by a prospective employer. It serves as your formal introduction, and as a marketing tool for landing an interview.

(Note: Your resume can also help you reflect on your experiences and plan for future skill and competency development.)

Your resume is one of the primary tools you can use to showcase your career readiness in a tangible, compelling way. Remember: In CLA, we define career readiness as developing—and then being able to convincingly demonstrate and articulate—the following Core Career Competencies:

  • Analytical & Critical Thinking
  • Applied Problem Solving
  • Ethical Reasoning & Decision Making
  • Innovation & Creativity
  • Oral & Written Communication
  • Teamwork & Leadership
  • Engaging Diversity
  • Active Citizenship & Community
  • Digital Literacy
  • Career Management

So keep these competencies at the forefront of your thinking as you create your resume. 

Ultimately, you need to be able to demonstrate your career readiness, on your résumé and elsewhere (particularly on your LinkedIn profile, which is its own critical marketing tool in your job/internship search). You can’t just say you’re career ready; you have to show it. 

With that challenge always top of mind: Which experiences—academic, engagement, and career—can you highlight on your resume to show prospective employers that you have, in fact, developed the Core Career Competencies (and other key skills) that signify career readiness? How can you effectively present what you have to offer to an organization?

That’s the true purpose of your resume.

Resume Types

There are some cases, like applying to graduate school or the federal government, which require a different resume. Use the resources below to learn more.