Resume Basics

Resume Purpose

A resume's purpose is to showcase your background and skillset by illustrating how you are the best candidate to fill an employer's specific hiring needs. Therefore, rather than a generic "one size fits all" resume, consider each employer as a unique audience.

Are you applying for one type of position or several types? Are your prospective employers different in their cultures, size, and philosophies? You may need several versions of your resume, each tailored to a specific opportunity and employer.

Accomplishment Statements

What are your top three qualifications that differentiate you from other potential candidates?  How will you add value to the organization? Show rather than tell.  Share the benefits you can add to the organization rather than simply telling them about your qualifications.  Illustrate what you are capable of through your accomplishments.

Accomplishment Statements

Accomplishment statements appear under your Experience sections as bullet points or a short statement.  Often, employers assume the best predictor of future performance is past performance.  Showcase your accomplishments on your resume by considering the following tips:

Action verbs:  Start each accomplishment statement with a strong action verb.  Refer to the following list of action verbs to get started.

Specific Details:  Provide specific details of what you did to identify or address a problem or resolved an issue, and include terms or keywords commonly used in your industry. Quantify the scope of your experience by sharing the number of clients you served, presentations you delivered, projects you completed, and other achievements.

Result:  Include the result or outcome of your efforts, when possible.  Who or what was impacted and how? How many people were assisted or how were resources developed, saved, or acquired?

Accomplishment Statement Examples:

Example 1: 
Evaluated the effectiveness of new training programs using quantitative metrics and presented findings to 20+ executive leaders; initiatives increased employee satisfaction by 12% and product understanding by 32%.

Example 2:
Led a 32-member global learning council that promoted a diverse and inclusive learning culture across the organization through active engagement, life-long learning, and community building.

Example 3:
Served on a 24-hour domestic violence crisis hotline, created safety plans, referred clients to call center resources, and applied active listening skills to support callers through crisis situations.

Use the Communicating Skills and Competencies Through Accomplishments Worksheet to develop your accomplishment statements.


Research Your Audience

Research the employer and position so you can properly highlight your qualifications.  What are their requirements, and what are your transferable skills (skills that transfer from one environment or position to the next)?  Once you identify how you can add value, you can start tailoring your resume.

Also, research the organization's mission, key accomplishments, customers, clients, and products.  Check the organization's website and its latest news and press releases.  If you know someone in the organization, get the "inside scoop."  Do your homework now to develop a strong, targeted resume and save time later in your interview preparation.   

Resume Tips
  • Keep your name between a 14-18 point font. Content font should stay between a 10-12 point font.
  • Highlight your qualifications with a summary statement. Utilize bold and bullet points to emphasize key points; use italics and underlining sparingly.
  • Leave off your high school experience.
  • Limit your resume content to the past 10-15 years.
Resume Outline

Use bold and bullet points to emphasize key information on the resume.  Be consistent.

Your font size should be between 10-12 point, and headers can be between 12-14 point font.

List a professional-looking email address and make sure the phone number you provide includes a professional-sounding voice mail greeting.  Your resume is your marketing tool so bring your best professional self forward.


Name (Bold, 14-18 point font)
Street Address City, State Zip
Phone Number   E-mail Address


Summary Statement (Bold, 12-14 point font)

Here you will create your branded summary statement.  Write 3-5 short sentences or phrases summarizing who you are and what you can do for the organization.  Highlight your greatest professional and academic achievements and skills, as they relate to your job target.


Education (Bold, 12-14 point font)

Degree Title      Month Year degree conferred
School Name, City, State             
Any specific highlights from your education (Specialization, Dissertation Title, GPA, etc.)

If you have multiple degrees, use this format and list in reverse chronological order

Experience (Bold, 12-14 point font)

Title of Position        Month Year – Month Year
Organization, City, State

  • Use bullet points or a short paragraph (2-3 sentences) to highlight your accomplishments/achievements
  • Start each bullet point with a strong action verb
  • Provide specific details and include outcomes of your efforts.

If you have multiple experiences, use this format and list in reverse chronological order.


Additional Sections (Bold, 12-14 point font)

Consider adding additional sections that will further highlight your qualifications.  Section headers may be: Volunteer Experience, Professional Development, Licenses and Certifications, Professional Affiliations, Honors and Awards, Presentations, Publications, Specialized Skills, etc.


View 400+ resume samples in SkillsFirst for additional formatting ideas.

Walden Resume Resources

Have you explored SkillsFirst?

Click on the button to access SkillsFirst

SkillsFirst is a self-guided career management system with 500+ templates and tools to help you create high-impact materials including resumes, cover letters, and career portfolios; and an interview prep function to practice interviewing skills.

Log in to SkillsFirst using your Walden email and password.

 Resume Checklist

Schedule an Appointment     

To receive feedback on your materials over the phone or on Zoom, please schedule an appointment with a career advisor through your myWalden portal. Visit the Schedule an Appointment page for additional information on how to prepare for your career advising appointment.
Online Resources

Action Verbs for Work Experience
Use this list to find just the right action verbs to describe your experience and accomplishments.

Resume and cover letter writing information, tips, and samples.

Job Application Materials
Examples of cover letters, references and other job application materials are on the Purdue University's Online Writing Lab under "Job Search Writing."

Resume Dos and Don'ts
Infographic with a useful resume checklist.

This tool helps match skills and experience in your resume to a specific job posting. Increase your chances of moving through Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) and advancing in the hiring process.

Resume Sections

Summary Statement

Your career summary is a brief statement at the beginning of your resume to show your audience how you are uniquely qualified for a particular opportunity. Your summary should be short and catchy – 4-6 key phrases or bullets that sum up your greatest accomplishments as it relates to the job.  Rather than telling the reader what you hope to gain, show how you are a perfect match.

Your summary statement may include professional skills, academic achievements, contributions you made to your profession or community, leadership roles, awards, specialized training, or other activities that can distinguish you from other candidates.


Which should be listed first - your experience or your education?  If you're qualifying for your next opportunity on the basis of your education, that section should be first.  If your experience is more important to the position, list it before the education section. 

When listing your education, list each degree, educational institution, city, state, and month and year that the degree was earned or is expected to be earned (in that order) chronologically backwards.


The experience section should list the following information chronologically backwards from your current or most recent position to oldest: your job title, employer, city, state, and dates of employment.  Under each position, list your skills and accomplishments.  Focus on describing past job activities that highlight the skills most desirable to your potential employer.   

As employers often give resumes a very quick glance, bullets are excellent for easy readability.  Compose phrases using key action verbs and terminology used in the job description.  List current activities in strong, present tense, action verbs.  Former activities that have ended should be stated in the past tense. 

Internships and volunteer work can be included in the experience section or listed separately in another section, depending on their significance.  Generally, employers focus on the past 10-15 years of experience as the most relevant.  Beyond that, you may elect to give a very brief summary of your work history.

Additional Sections

Other possible sections to include on your resume may be: licenses/certifications, training, skills such as languages and computer skills, publications, projects, community service, awards, or professional associations.   


If you are asked to provide references, create a References list using the following format:

First Name, Last Name, Credential
Mailing Address
Phone Number (with area code)
Email Address


To ask for a reference, consider reaching out to former or current supervisors and/or professors who know your work.  Include 3-5 professional or academic references and let your references know they may be contacted by employers.

Career Portfolio Resources

Follow the step-by-step guides below to create a portfolio using SkillsFirst

General Portfolio

How to Create a Career Portfolio: General Guide External Link

MPH Practicum

MPH Practicum Portfolio Guide External Link

Criteria for MPH Portfolio External Link

DrPH Applied Practice Experience

DrPH Applied Practice Experience Portfolio Guide External Link

Criteria for DrPH Portfolio External Link


DBA Practicum Portfolio Guide External Link

Refer to the following handout to help you enhance your Portfolio sections:

Walden University DBA Portfolio Capstone Skills and Competencies External Link

Human Services

Human Services Portfolio Guide External Link

MS in Health Education and Promotion

MS in Health Education and Promotion Portfolio Guide External Link

MS in Leadership

MS in Leadership Portfolio Guide External Link
MS in Leadership Portfolio Instructions External Link


MBA: Document Your Success Portfolio Guide External Link
MBA Portfolio Instructions External Link

Undergraduate Prior Learning

Undergraduate Prior Learning Portfolio Guide External Link

Refer to the following page for more information:

Building Your Prior Learning Portfolio External Link

Social Work

Social Work Diversity Portfolio External Link





SkillsFirst Logo

SkillsFirst is a robust career management system available to Walden students and alumni to create letters, resumes, CVs, and career portfolios; and practice interviewing skills. Refer to the following step-by-step guides to get started:

Resumes and Cover Letter Guides
Portfolio Guides
Interview Guides
SkillsFirst Access for Walden Alumni

For recent grads who have access to their Walden email and password, log into SkillsFirst here.  We recommend that you download all documents that you created in SkillsFirst upon completion of your Walden program.

For alumni who no longer have access to their Walden credentials, please contact the Career Planning and Development team at to receive instructions on how to create a new Alumni Account in SkillsFirst.

Cover Letters


On average, you typically have 20-45 seconds to impress the employer with your cover letter and resume.  It is important to tailor your message to your audience and pay attention to detail in order to craft a well-written cover letter.  Your cover letter should describe your qualifications, personality, and excitement for the position.  It is not necessary to repeat the information on your resume or curriculum vitae.  These documents should complement one another to capture an employer’s interest to grant you an interview.  


1st Paragraph - Introduction

  • State how you learned of the position and your interest in the job and the organization. 
  • Mention what piqued your interest in the particular position.
  • Do you know someone who works for the employer?  Were you referred by someone well respected?  Be sure to mention that person right away!
  • Research the organization (i.e., mission statement, values, goals) and demonstrate how you are a good fit.

2nd/3rd Paragraph - Related Experience and Education

  • Show the organization what you can do for them rather than telling them what you are seeking.
  • State how your skills and background qualify you for this position.

4th Paragraph - Wrap Up/Restate Interest

  • Re-emphasize how your background is a match for the position.
  • Indicate your enthusiasm for the position and your interest in connecting to further discuss your qualifications.
  • End the cover letter with a closing such as “Sincerely” and then sign your name electronically (if hard copy, use black or blue ink).
Cover Letter Tips
  • Keep your formatting the same as your resume (i.e. font style, sizes).
  • When applying for a position, follow all directions provided by the employer.
  • If they provide an email address, assume that you are to send your materials via email.
  • Use industry terminology and keywords whenever possible.
  • Address the letter to a specific person, using Ms. or Mr.  If you are unable to find a name, use the salutation “Dear Search Committee," or “Dear (department name) Department."
  • Use a standard business letter format to start your letter.  You can also use the header you utilized in your resume.
  • Keep track of the positions you apply for; organize application materials in a folder on your computer or keep hard copies.  This will make for easy reference if called for an interview.
  • Be sincere and avoid generic phrases.
Cover Letter Outline

Your Name
Your Street Address
City, State
Phone Number
Email Address

Month Date, Year

Contact Person
Title of Contact Person
Name of Organization
Street Address
City, State Zip

Salutation (Dear) Mr./Ms. Last Name:

First, state your interest and how you learned of the position.  Include the position title and name of the organization.  If you know someone who works for the organization, or you were referred to the position, mention this in your letter.  You may consider stating how the organization’s mission/values/goals are a match to your own, or highlight that you bring ‘x’ amount of years of experience to the table, making you the right candidate.

The second and third paragraph should highlight how your education and experience qualify you for the position.  Be sure not to re-state your resume.  Closely read the job description and ‘show’ the employer that you meet the qualifications.  Depending on your level of experience, you may consider writing a paragraph on your educational background and how that has qualified you, and then focus on your previous or current experience in a new paragraph.  Here you may also consider using bullet points (3-4) to highlight a few areas or accomplishments that make you stand out.

Your final paragraph should restate your interest and summarize your candidacy.  Mention that you would like to further share your qualifications during an interview.  Provide the reader with your email and/or phone number so they can easily reach out to you.



Your Name


Attachment: Resume


(If you are sending a hard copy of this correspondence, it is an Enclosure rather than an Attachment.)

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