The resume: how to land your dream job

Emily Inverso

It was near 1482 when Leonardo da Vinci sat down to write a little bit about his skills. Having not yet painted the “Mona Lisa” or, for that matter, “The Last Supper,” Leo was just like a lot of other people, looking for a job. Today, his document is thought to be one of the oldest — and possibly first — résumés in existence.

Skip a few centuries, and by the 1940s, résumés began to include extensive information like height, weight and religion. Delivery options changed in the 1990s with the advent of computers and email, and now, with snail mail, email and all forms of social media, choosing the best way to present information can be a little intimidating.

With the help of some résumé pros, though, hopefully the task can be a little more manageable.

The Hierarchy

“Let’s face it,” said Chris Ransom, associate professor for visual communication design, “the hierarchy is really important.”

First and foremost, your name and personal contact information needs to be displayed at the top of the résumé — including address, phone number and email.

“You really want the name to be the largest font on the page to stand out,” said Hobson Hamilton, assistant director at the Career Services Center. “It could be even up to an 18 point font.”

Beyond that level, the basic hierarchy continues with specific sections like education, skills, experience and honors, and then the supporting information for each of those sections.

Other Tips from Ransom:

Seven of the most common and clean type faces:


Baskerville Old Face




Franklin Gothic

Times New Roman

Consider these options when selecting which font you will type your résumé in.

Your résumé is just part of a family of information that introduces you to an employer. What will really set you apart is if your cover letter has some of the font, color and contrast elements you included in your résumé. It makes them seem related. .

The Experience

Whether employee hopefuls are competing for one job or if a variety of applicants may fit the placement, specific experience will help to set them apart.

“Pay attention to direction,” Hamilton said. “If a position requires a master’s degree, then make sure you have one. But if you have all the qualifications required, your experiences will set you off from the other candidates.”

So then it becomes a question of volunteer work vs. class level vs. real experience — and they all have their advantages to gain internships or jobs, Hamilton said. Just what those advantages are, then, are listed below:

Volunteer work: “Volunteer sometimes,” Hamilton suggested. “It’s important, especially if you can volunteer for experience in your field. It’ll be something to put on the résumé, which could get you the attention you need for that first internship opportunity. But, I know, volunteering is easier said than done based on an individual’s time.”

Class level: Not all employers will require professional experience for job placement. In those cases, Hamilton said they will be looking intently at students’ course work.

“A lot of times, employers who come to me won’t want to see anyone before a junior level,” Hamilton said. “It’s kind of thought they will have taken coursework comparable to real experience and, thus, have the maturity to take on an internship of job.”

Experience: There are also a myriad of opportunities for students to gain professional experience while still in school — and sometimes being paid for it. For example, a student interested in computer information systems could gain preliminary experience by working with ResNet, Kent State’s Residential Network, Hamilton said.

“That’s going to give them great experience that may not be termed as an internship, but it’s an opportunity they could seize,” he said. “And that opportunity will help polish them into [a] confident professional.”

Career Services’
Adjectives with Impact:



















The Personalization

One of the best ways to show a definite personality in a résumé, Ransom said, is to choose some type of contrast in the layout of the page. This contrast can be achieved through fluctuating sizes between headings and supporting information, using bold and regular type, changing from roman to italics type, alternating from a sans-serif font for a heading to a serif font for supporting type or incorporating one color other than black.

What’s most important is keeping the page clean.

“It’s all about white space,” Ransom said. “If you take music, white space is the silence, and the notes are what punctuate the silence. For me, white space is the silence of the page, and our challenge is to beautifully put notes on that space, which doesn’t have to mean a fancy design.”

Personalization can also come with what one chooses to include or remove from the résumé. Generally speaking, it should only fill one page. One of the easiest items to keep or remove, based on space needs, is previous, unrelated work experience.

“Sometimes I think there is a transfer of skills that can go from one field to another,” Hamilton said. “If a business major worked in a nursing home, they have sympathy, communication and customer service. Some of that experience is not related, but could have value.”

But another thing to consider, he said, is the effectiveness of space being used on that page. If it appears cluttered or hard to read with that information included, one has to prioritize how useful keeping it will be.

“It’s like being in college with honors or activities from high school on your résumé,” Hamilton said. “Do you really still need those to be recognized?”

The Reference

Put references on a different page.

That’s the advice Hamilton said he always tells students.

“It should say ‘References for’ and then have your first and last name at the top,” he said.

From there, at least three references should be included with names, titles, business affiliations, phone numbers and email addresses.

“It’s also customary to keep a reference for no more than five years,” Hamilton said. “Check in with them when you change your résumé or apply for a job so you stay fresh in their minds, even if it’s to tell them you applied for a position using them as a reference but were unfortunately not selected. Keep them current and up to date with what you’re doing.”

And if you send references out electronically, he added, the page should be a completely separate document from the résumé rather than just a second page within the same document.

Contact Emily Inverso at [email protected].