Research shows that employers spend an average of 10-15 seconds scanning a resume. To standout, make sure your information is neatly organized and that your skills and abilities relevant to the position are quickly and easily identifiable. You may also want to create multiple versions of your resume that are specifically tailored to the position or industry to which you are applying.

Review the resources below and download our resume checklist to create your best resume.

1. Before You Begin

  • Think about your experiences and unique skills and abilities
  • Review the position or industry and know the associated keywords

2. Overall Format and Appearance

  • Be consistent in your formatting and style
  • Remove all graphics
  • Proofread regularly, as spelling and formatting errors can get your resume rejected
  • Undergraduate resumes should be one page
  • List content in reverse chronological order, with the most recent experiences listed first
  • Use an easy-to-read font such as Times New Roman, Arial, or Calibri, and use no more than two font types and styles
  • Keep font sizes between 10-12 pt., but your name can be larger than 12 pt
  • Format margins to .75” on all sides is possible, but they should be no smaller than 0.5”
  • Tense should match the time frame of the activity with current experiences written in present tense and past experiences in past tense
  • Avoid first-person pronouns (I, me, my) or articles (a, an, the)

3. Contact Information

  • Use an appropriate email address, preferably your Penn State email
  • Include your cell phone number and ensure your voice mailbox is set up with a professional message
  • Do not include photos

4. Education

  • List your Penn State education first as "Penn State University" or "The Pennsylvania State University"
  • Make sure your campus name is listed accurately (i.e. University Park not State College)
  • Include your graduation date or expected graduation date
  • Specify your major and option, if applicable
  • Include any certificates you will earn, such as the Certificate of Achievement from the NSA
  • Include your cumulative GPA, and add your major GPA if it is higher than your cumulative GPA
  • If you choose not to include your GPA, be prepared to discuss it with potential employers

5. Skills

  • Highlight technical skills relevant to the position
  • Show through work experiences and activities (rather than list) your soft skills, such as leadership, teamwork, communication, and project management

6. Relevant Experiences

  • Share work experiences, course projects, personal projects, and experiences like education abroad
  • Include quantifiable information to show the scope of your work
  • Use bullet points rather than paragraphs

7. Activities

  • List volunteer experiences and any student organizations you were an active participant in
  • Include any leadership roles you held
  • Include you dates of involvement for each activity

8. Name Your Document

  • Choose an easily identifiable name, such as "FirstnameLastname_Resume2017.pdf"
  • Save your document as a .pdf to ensure formatting remains consistent

Consider these questions when crafting bullet points for your resume to demonstrate your experience relevant to the position:

  • What impact did you/your project have on the organization?
  • What technology did you use when completing the project?
  • What did you learn from the experience?
  • What was the volume and duration of your work? (e.g. Evaluated team performance for 20 employees and conducted weekly one-on-one performance update meetings)

It is often helpful to create multiple versions of your resume that are specifically tailored to the position or industry to which you are applying.

Many IST students go on to work for the federal government. Use the links below from and the intelligence community to guide you through writing your resume and the interview and hiring processes.


Office of Career Solutions and Corporate Engagement

E103 Westgate Building
University Park, PA 16802

(814) 865-4509