Top 10 Resume Tips for English Majors

By: Katherine Francisco

One of the most overwhelming parts of finding a job is developing an effective resume. Added to this is the pressure that an English major will “never find a real job” (or at least that’s what some of our parents- and popular culture- tell us). English majors tend to pride themselves on their writing and communicating abilities, but when it comes to important documents like your resume, you freeze up. Below are the top ten tips for English majors (and everyone), when it comes to developing a resume.

  1. Focus on your skills, not your title: Some people will hear that you are an English major and assume that you’re a nerd who spends all day reading books- and while some of us are- that’s not all we bring to the table. We can analyze practically any situation, and communicate its meaning in powerful ways. That is what employers want.
  2. Show off your experience: We English majors hold a wide variety of jobs and internships in our undergrad career. Talk about them on your resume; you already have the experience, and if you enjoy it, you might as well get paid for it.
  3. Don’t be afraid to brag: While you’re talking about your experience, don’t forget to mention how awesome you are! You have worked hard for your education and experiences, and potential employers should know that. There is no room for modesty on your resume.
  4. Show that you know how to communicate: Once again, people assume that English majors are quiet people who sit in the corner writing poetry. That isn’t always the case. We know how to write; therefore we should be able to prove it with our words. When you know what you’re talking about, don’t be afraid to share!
  5. Use action verbs: Just like the idea that there are a billion different words to use instead of “said.” you can find hundreds of ways to explain your talents. Words like “facilitate,” or “directed” show that you not only held a position, you owned it! This also keeps your resume from becoming monotonous and, let’s face it, boring.
  6. Stick to one page: While it may be impressive that you babysat a group of boys for three summers in a row, this information may take up too much unnecessary space on your resume. Keep your content short, sweet and to the point. Grab your reader’s attention right away, and don’t lose it until you’ve got the job!
  7. Keep your most relevant experiences on top: You may have heard you should organize your resume chronologically. This is a great tip, but make sure that the information you are including at the top is relevant, and catches the reader’s attention. If all of your really impressive skills are left at the bottom of the page, your employer may not even get to them. Organizing your resume using descriptive categories can help you highlight your most relevant experiences at the top of your resume – even if they are more dated than your other work, internship, and volunteer experiences.
  8. Tailor the resume to fit the job: Want a job in editing? Show your employer that you have three years of experience writing for an online blog. How about a job in social media? Talk about your internship running the Facebook page for an organization. Make sure your skills fit the type of job you are looking for. If you don’t have all of the experience you need, make it clear that you are willing to learn.
  9. Make it look nice: There will always be a debate about where your name should go at the top of your resume. Left-justified? Centered? It really depends on the person. The most important thing is that your name is large and visible, and that you have contact information that is easily accessible. Other than that, make sure you are using all of the space (this is the one time where you can change the size of your margins); the last thing an employer wants to see is a half-empty page.
  10. Proofread, proofread, PROOFREAD: There is nothing more embarrassing than an English major bragging about how detail-oriented they are while misspelling things on their resume. If an employer sees that you miss minor details like this on your own resume, how will you be able to write for their company? Always read over your resume, especially after you update or make changes, and have *several* others read it to ensure that everything is done well.

These tips should help you create an effective resume. If you run into any roadblocks, message the English department on Twitter or Facebook (@ElonENG). Or reach out to Sara Cone at the Student Professional Development Center ( Best of luck!

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