Montana State University
Career, Internship
& Student Employment Services

Montana State University
177 Strand Union Bldg.
P.O. Box 174180
Bozeman, MT 59717-4180

Tel: (406) 994-4353
Toll-Free: 877-777-8489
Fax: (406) 994-5488

The Marketable Resume

Trained specialists in Career, Internship & Student Employment Services will critique your resume with you if you wish.  Although drop-ins are welcome at 177 SUB, it is usually to your advantage to make an appointment in advance.  Stop in to schedule an appointment or call 994-4353.   Drop-ins are welcome to have their resume critiqued at The Bracken Center in Reid 457 during Career Peer hours.  Call 994-4353 or 994-1995 for an update on those hours. 

Before having your resume critiqued, please complete this checklist:

Did you remember to…?

Name and contact information:

  1. put your name at the top of your resume?  Is it larger than all other information?  Is it bolded?
  2. use a current address where you can be reached or where someone will know your current address?  If you included two addresses (school/university and permanent/parent/s/guardian/s) did you label each with dates when each would be in effect?
  3. include phone number/s where a message can be recorded or where someone will generally be available to answer the phone?  If listing more than one phone number, label each (e.g., cell, work, home, etc.).
  4. include your e-mail address?  Update to a professional user name if your current user name suggests a less-than-professional personal characteristic.


  1. Is your objective clear and concise?  Does it indicate what you can do for the employer rather than state what you hope to obtain? 
  2. Does your objective indicate a position or field?  Have you included skills/abilities sought by the employer for this position?  Desired setting and/or long-range goals are also appropriate to include in the objective.


  1. Are sections prioritized by relevance or importance to the type of position you seek?
  2. Did you include only information demonstrating your qualifications for this objective?

Education:  [generally more important (and therefore higher on your resume) when you are a recent graduate or seek an internship.  When your experience is a better qualifier, move the experience section higher than the education section]

  1. list your degree or year in school first?  Did you list your major/s, minor/s, or focus area/s?
  2. name your university after the major/minor/focus information?
  3. list the city and state or country (if other than the United States) next?
  4. have you indicated the month and/or year of completion of your degree?
  5. did you list GPA information next?
  6. if you’ve included “specialized or relevant courses” did you confine the listings to professional electives within (or relevant but outside) your major?

Relevant Experiences: 

  1. Did you list position title first?  (this could also be an experiential education course that is titled by the project).  Is the title followed by the name of the employer, city and state, then dates of employment or participation – preferably in this order?
  2. Did you use bullets (or key-stroke characters if this resume might be scanned) to set apart each qualification you have chosen to list?
  3. Does each phrase begin with a strong action verb or a qualifier followed by an action verb?
  4. Does each phrase show your qualifications for your objective?
  5. Have you set yourself apart from others with comparable experience by listing accomplishments?


  1. Have you included those which demonstrate important abilities or characteristics in the workforce?
  2. Did you prioritize (by dates or by relevance)?
  3. Is the information in this section current, recent, and relevant?
  4. Have you included leadership positions?
  5. Did you include membership/participation in activities that demonstrate your concern about society?  This might include volunteer activities.

Formatting and Finalizing for distribution:

  1. Did you leave a minimum of ¾ inch (one inch is preferred) margins on all four sides?
  2. Do you have enough “white space” to make reading your resume comfortable and easy?
  3. Do your section headings stand out?  Are all treated the same?  (bolding/capping/justification)
  4. Have you used only one font?  Is it easily read?
  5. Have you used a spell checker?  Have you had your resume “critiqued” by family, friends, and/or others in your field?
  6. Did you check for consistency in punctuation? (used periods at the end of all phrases or left them off all phrase endings)?

Have you omitted personal data that may be used to screen you out?  (including age, height, weight, marital status, nationality/ethnicity, photograph, visa status, disability)

Did you know?  Top personal qualities employers seek in job candidates: (top 21)

  1. Communication skills (4.7)
  2. Honesty/integrity (4.7)
  3. Interpersonal skills (relates well to others) (4.5)
  4. Motivation/initiative (4.5)
  5. Strong work ethic (4.5)
  6. Teamwork skills (works well with others) (4.5)
  7. Computer skills (4.4)
  8. Analytical skills (4.3)
  9. Flexibility/adaptability (4.3)
  10. Detail-oriented (4.2)
  11. Organizational skills (4.0)
  12. Leadership skills (4.0)
  13. Self-confidence (4.0)
  14. Friendly/outgoing personality (3.9)
  15. Tactfulness (3.9)
  16. Well-mannered/polite (3.8)
  17. Creativity (3.7)
  18. GPA (3.0 or better) (3.6)
  19. Entrepreneurial  skills/risk-taker (3.3)
  20. Sense of humor (3.2)
  21. Bilingual skills (2.3)

(5 point scale; 1 is “not important”, 5 is “most important”)  Source:  Job Outlook 2006, National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE)

Other attributes frequently cited by top corporate recruiters as necessary in potential employees:

  1. Intelligence – ideas, originality; not just GPA; remember that only 10% of the people can be in the top 10%
  2. Self-confidence
  3. Willingness to accept responsibility – volunteer to tackle the hard job; employers don’t want buck-passers
  4. Leadership
  5. Energy level – people who don’t poop out; could demonstrate this trait by information showing personally paid for substantial part of education
  6. Imagination – innovators and idea people
  7. Self-knowledge – maturity; employers avoid people with a lot of hang-ups
  8. Ability to handle conflict – people who can roll with the punches and function under pressure; people who don’t panic but remain calm under pressure
  9. Goal achievement – people who can identify and work toward personal goals
  10. Competitiveness – “I love to win!” attitude; can be demonstrated in many arenas, including classroom, sports, work
  11. Vocational skills
  12. Direction – people who have defined their personal and professional needs
  13. Learn new tasks willingly; demonstrate initiative and maintain productivity
  14. Decision-making and decisiveness – use good judgment and can think on feet
  15. Leadership potential
  16. Time management

(compiled and distributed by Career Services & Student Employment, MSU, 2005)

For other tips and guidelines check out Career, Internship & Student Employment Services homepage at  Go to Job Searching and Career Opportunities Tips on resume writing, interview skills, and job-hunting techniques.  Check out the action verb site!