Cornell University

In This Section:

Resume Parts

Although resumes are composed using standard elements, there is no prescribed format that works equally well for everyone. Sections that do not relate to your objective or career field of interest may be de-emphasized or even omitted. Titles of sections can also be modified to describe the information presented more accurately.


Include name, permanent and local addresses, e-mail address, and phone number. If using two addresses, indicate dates you can be reached at each.


Opinions differ widely among employers and career professionals on the value of including a career objective. In general, an objective on your resume can be helpful if it concisely describes your immediate employment goal, but it is not an essential component of a successful resume. You may prefer to incorporate an objective in a job-search letter instead, especially if you want to be considered for a range of positions.

An objective should convey specific information about what you are seeking, but those that are too narrow can limit your options. If you decide to include an objective, specify the type of position you are seeking. If you find it difficult to write a definitive statement of your objective, describe the skills you want to use or the functions you want to perform. If you have more than one career interest, prepare several resumes, tailoring them to different objectives. The following are three examples of effective objectives:

  • A position in financial services using well-developed research, analytical, and quantitative skills.
  • A research position in health care combining interests in policy and medicine.
  • A position as a process engineer in the chemical industry.

A second approach is a summary of qualifications describing your skills and experience in relation to your career interest. Qualification summaries are less widely used than objectives, but offer the opportunity to highlight your most important assets at the top of your resume. If your career interest is in working as a legislative aide, for example, you could summarize your most important accomplishments and skills in this way:

  • Researched and wrote detailed reports in city government position.
  • Addressed student concerns as elected Student Assembly representative.
  • Wrote honors thesis on relationship between state and federal government and trend towards devolution.


List institutions attended and locations, including study abroad experience; degrees and dates received; major and concentration; and honors thesis title, if applicable. Include your GPA if it is at least 3.0; you may want to add your major GPA if it is considerably higher. [Note: Guidelines for science and technical fields may vary. Check with your college career office.] If you attended another college before coming to Cornell, include it only if you make reference to it elsewhere in your resume or cover letter. Don't include your high school unless it is nationally recognized or in an area where you want to work.

Honors and Awards

Dean's List, honor societies, and academic awards can be listed in a separate section if you have more than one or two entries; if not, incorporate them in the education section. Only include scholarships that are based on merit.

Relevant Courses

List courses that are pertinent to your objective and employers' needs, particularly if your major does not directly relate to your employment goal. For example, if you are an English major seeking work as a computer programmer, relevant courses will be computer-related.


This includes diverse experiences, both paid and unpaid:

  • Part-time work
  • Full-time work
  • Summer jobs
  • Co-op experience
  • Internships
  • Volunteer experience
  • Extracurricular activities

Include the position you held, name of the organization, city and state of its location, and month and year of your involvement. Summarize what you accomplished in each experience and prioritize these results-oriented descriptions to support your job objective. Don't include every experience you have had, only those that demonstrate that you can succeed in the position you are pursuing. Use brief phrases beginning with action verbs, incorporating statistics, percentages, and numbers where possible:

  • Reorganized inventory procedures, shortening process from 3 days to 2 days.
  • Designed and implemented marketing strategy that increased sales 25%.
  • Trained and coordinated activities of 33 volunteers, whose efforts resulted in raising $5,000.


List computer languages and programs, knowledge of foreign languages, laboratory and research skills, analytical skills, and management skills not mentioned elsewhere.

Activities and Interests

In order of their importance, list student organizations, professional associations, committees, and community involvement, indicating offices held. Include high school activities only if directly relevant to your objective. After activities, list interests such as music, sports, and the arts, especially if they pertain to your career interest. You may want to avoid including religious activities or those representing extreme political views.


This section is optional. If included, say "available upon request."