Convert Your CV to a Resume

Converting your CV to a resume may seem like a daunting task. Where do you start? How do you translate your academic experience into one that will make you marketable and desirable on the job market? Don't worry—follow our steps below to transform your CV into a resume. 

Step One: Create a Master List

A resume is a persuasive document that aims to show how you have the unique skills and experience necessary for a required job. First, make a list of every job or position you’ve held. Yes, every position. List your title, the organization you worked for, and the skills you utilized in that job. You can start with what you have on your CV and expand from there—include volunteer positions, babysitting jobs, anything you’ve done. It doesn’t matter if your job was little or big, seemingly simple or complex. Just list everything. Your list may look something like this:

  • Grocery Stocker; Funky Pants Food Co-Op; Felton, California. June 2013-August 2014. Skills: worked with colleagues to stock shelves, lifted over 50 lbs, read instructions and labels for stacking products, operated forklift.
  • Volunteer Dog Walker; Felton Humane Society; Felton, California. June 2013-September 2014. Skills: coordinated schedules with peers, followed instructions from veterinarians and managers, followed route to walk up to four dogs for forty minutes per shift.
  • Day Care Assistant; Dan’s Crusty Kids Day Care; Weed, California. June 2014-September 2014. Skills: worked with colleagues to plan and execute activities for toddlers and kindergarten aged children, managed large groups of children, cleaned and organized 1000 ft space, used Photoshop to create banner, handled conflict resolution between employees and parents.
  • Teaching Assistant; Rhetoric and Composition Department; University of California; Santa Cruz, CA; September 2014-June 2016. Skills: worked with colleagues and professor to plan coursework and execute departmental learning goals; evaluated student work; read and commented on up to 250 student papers per 10 week quarters, held office hours and one-on-one conferences twice a quarter.

And so on . . .

Keep this list and add to it as you think of more positions and gain more experience. This will be your Master List. When you create a resume, you’ll draw from this list to put underneath your “Experience” section on your resume. Why did you need to list everything? Because you never know what job or experience you’ve had in the past may qualify you for another job. By focusing on including all jobs and their respective skills, you have more to work with.

Step Two: Create a Desired Skills List

Now, go to the job or internship you’d like to apply for. Closely read the description and ask yourself the following questions: what skills are they looking for? What kind of qualifications do they require? Do you need to have a certain degree or certification? Do you need to be able to perform certain tasks? Are there certain keywords they repeat in the job listing? Make a list of what is relevant from the job description. Your list may look like this:

Desired Skills List for Marketing and Communication Assistant at Half Moon Bay Museum of Modern Art.

  • Promote Half Moon Bay Museum of Modern Art through social media and newsletters.  
  • Interface with press—write, edit, and distribute public media.
  • Use Photoshop, Illustrator, and video editing tools and direct the production of graphics and images.
  • Be a fast learner and passionate about community arts.

And so on . . .

Step Three: Match Your Experience to the Desired Skills List.

Pick one desired skill from your list. Let’s look at #1: “Promote Half Moon Bay Museum of Modern Art through social media and newsletters.” Now, go to your Master List and read through your list. What experiences do you have that satisfy this desired skill? Dog walking? Probably not. Grocery stocker? Probably not… Working at Dan’s Crusty Kids? Most likely not. Teaching Assistant for the Rhetoric and Composition Department. Bingo. While you probably didn’t work directly with social media for your job as a TA, you instructed students in the art of persuasion. Thus, you can apply these skills in marketing this organization.

Now, make a separate document or list. Write down the desired skill and what experience you have that satisfies this.

You’ll want to do this for each desired skill from the job description until you have a list of both the desired skills and the skills and experiences you have that satisfy these skills. Remember to quantify your work by using numbers and considering the frequency and the total impact of what you did.

But what if there’s a desired skill you don’t have? Don’t panic. Try to emphasize what experiences you do have in your cover letter and resume. Then, try to address how your other personal skills—such as commitment to the organization’s goals or excitement over learning new things—can help you overcome what you don’t know. Likewise, your cover letter is a place to express your enthusiasm and interest in this position and to show how this job is a great fit for your goals and interests.

By now, you should have a list of experiences and qualifications you do have and how they satisfy what the job requires.

Have a lot of overlap? That’s great! Just remember that your resume should be no longer than 2 pages. If you have more experience than that, try to put the most relevant experiences on your resume.

Step Four: Start Building Your Resume

First, put your name and contact information (address, phone number, and e-mail) at the top of your resume.

Your second section is your “Professional Summary” (2-3 sentences tailored to the position that summarizes your history, background, and unique qualifications) or “Objective” (2-3 sentences that state the specific position or type of employment you want and the skills and experience you have that make you an ideal candidate for the job”). Professional Summaries are more common than Objectives.

Your third section is your Education section. Here, you’ll put your degrees and certifications and from where and when you earned them.. For graduate degrees, you may want to put the title of your thesis or dissertation and your areas of expertise. In rare instances where your experience trumps or is more impressive or extensive than your education, you may put your education at the bottom of your resume.

Your fourth section is your “Experience” or “Related Experience” section. This is where you are going to list the experiences from your Master List that are relevant for this job. This is also the section that will typically change for each job that you apply for. For each experience, put your title, the organization, when you worked for them, and a bullet point list or 2-3 sentences of what you did. We will talk more about how to craft those 2-3 key points in Step Five.

Your fifth/sixth/seventh/eighth section will be different depending on your experience or the job you are applying for. You may, only if relevant, want to put your skills (such as programming, data analysis, modeling software or documentation or other computer skills), publications, awards, or affiliations (such as with a professional association). And, depending on what your prospective employer desires, you may also want to put the contact information for your references or indicate that they are available by request.

Step Five: Focus on Your Experience Section

Now, go back to your experience section. You’ve listed your title, the organization, and when you worked. In your 2-3 sentences or bullet points to describe what your duties, you’ll want to focus on four things:

  1. Decide what skills you want to highlight and making sure they mirror the job description.
    • You’ve already done the leg-work for #1. By using your master list and the job description you’ve identified how your experience makes you qualified for your desired job. Now, look at you description and try to use Active Verbs to describe what you did.
    • Why use active verbs? Active verbs are more concise than passive verbs. Space is at a premium on a resume and using active verbs can help you be concise. Active verbs also indicate that you are the person doing the action.
  2. What you accomplished and how it can be quantified in a way to demonstrate breadth/depth.  
    • Think numbers. Think breadth and depth. How many? How much? How long?
  3. The strategies or tasks you used to accomplish this task.
    • Ask—what tools, theories, or knowledge did you need to utilize?
  4. Trying to mirror (though not plagiarize) the language and skills of the job description.
    • Remember that many resumes that are submitted online are put through software that analyses how closely the resume fits the desired jobs based on the frequency of specific keywords. By closely reading and addressing the skills in the job description, you can improve your chances of your resume being passed on.

Here’s an example from our Rhetoric and Composition Teaching Assistant example:

First Draft of Duties/Description:

Graded homework, met with students during office hours, taught section and lectured.

  • This is a good start but it doesn’t quantify the information or demonstrate the skills you have from doing this job.

Second Draft of Duties/Description:

Taught weekly meetings for 35 undergraduate Literature majors. Advised four students on final projects.

  • This is better, but it still doesn’t show what unique skills and qualities you had to have in order to do this work.

Third Draft of Duties/Description:

With a solid grounding in contemporary pedagogical theory, taught and assessed persuasive essays for thirty-five undergraduate students through interactive instruction in weekly meetings, online correspondence, and in-person advising.

  • This draft quantifies information (“thirty five students,” “weekly meetings”), uses active verbs,  (“taught” and “assessed”) and shows the skills you have (“contemporary pedagogical theory,” “taught and assessed,” “interactive instruction,” “”corresponding,” advising”).

Step Six: Check Your Page Formatting

Your resume should be legible and easy to follow. Does it have:

  • 11-12 point font except for your name?
  • Legible, professional font such as Arial or Times New Roman?
  • .5 to one inch margins all around?
  • Experiences listed reverse chronologically (starting with the most recent and going backwards)?
  • Single spacing with a blank line between sections?

Step Seven: Proofread and Get a Second Look

Be sure to proofread your resume. Then show it to a friend. Show to it a UCSC Career Counselor. Show it to a trusted colleague. Is there something you could improve on? Are you using active verbs? Did you quantify what you did? Is your resume free of jargon and confusing abbreviations? What does your resume communicate?


Do you already have a resume or want to double-check the resume you just made? Visit our Resume Checklist. Want to start making your Master List? Use our blank template to help you. 

Do you need help with your application materials? Make an appointment with one of our Career Counselors today!