Resume Tips and Tricks


When looking for an internship or full-time position, the resume is the first step. Invest the time in creating the strongest resume possible. Utilize the samples linked below that demonstrate the best formatting. Be informed and know the statistics and best practices.


Of companies use applicant tracking systems (ATS) or AI to evaluate resumes


Of candidates sent to recruiters are chosen by ATS or AI


Average amount of seconds an employer spends looking at a resume

Microsoft Word

  • Identified as the best platform to create your resume

PDF format

  • For usability and formatting purposes, ALWAYS send your resume as a PDF

To stand out, make sure your information is neatly organized, and that your skills and abilities relevant to the position are quickly and easily identifiable. If you need help, schedule an appointment with an IST Career Coach on Starfish.

Resume Samples for Online Applicants

1. Before You Begin

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

2. ATS are programmed to look for these essential areas:

  • Contact information
  • Education
  • Skills
  • Work experience

3. Bonus resume sections: 

  • Summary/Objective
  • Awards and honors
  • Volunteer work
  • Languages
  • Hobbies and interests

4. 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)

5. 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

6. 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

7. 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

8. 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

9. 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

10. 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.

Quinncia - Where ability meets opportunity.

Video Tour of Quinncia ATS

What is an ATS?

There's a hidden barrier between you and your dream job that prevents up to 95% of job applications from ever crossing the hiring manager's desk: Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)


What's essential to your resume?

There are a few requirements for resumes to pass through applicant tracking systems; Create your resume in a Word document or Google doc, then export it as a PDF; Make sure to include your contact information, education, and your experiences where you highlight your skills and achievements; Avoid using graphics or images, as these can cause your resume to be immediately rejected; Stick to a simple, straightforward format (you can even ask your career center for a template to start!).


What is AI interviewing? 

Quinncia's interviewing feature offers tailored mock interviews and individualized feedback using AI to help you practice telling your story based on the experiences on your resume.

Different from video interviewing, many employers are moving first-round interviews to these AI-assisted interviews. There isn't a human on the other end. Instead, you are presented with questions on the screen or using audio. Using this mock interview system can help you prepare for an eventual video interview.


How Does AI affect you as an applicant?

About 90% of companies use an ATS to review applications. ATS are set up to reject resumes on a number of items like graphics, photos, incorrect margins, columns, grammatical and spelling errors, and much more. While you may be a great candidate for an open job or internship, if your resume doesn't parse the ATS your resume will never be seen by a human.

When the average corporate job opening receives roughly 250 applications, you have to ensure your resume is ready to be read by an ATS. These systems make it easy for applicants to apply to jobs online and hiring managers to organize them. This means you are up against people who may have no interest in your dream job or internship. The last thing we want is for that person to move along in the application process instead of you.


If you are a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th year College of IST student interested in utilizing this resource please email with your response to the following:

Provide a brief description of what your experience has been trying to find an internship or full-time position and why are you interested in utilizing Quinncia?


Office of Career Solutions and Corporate Engagement

E103 Westgate Building
University Park, PA 16802

(814) 865-4509