Your resume will be the first chance the adcom readers have to find out about who you are, where you’ve been, and what you know. Due to the large number of sections in each application, and the thousands of others they receive, most readers will only spend approximately 15 SECONDS on your resume before they shift to the next item on their checklist. You need to make a quick and significant first impression.
Luckily, there are many ways to make your application resume stand out. The following tips will help you build a vibrant, strong resume that will allow you to glide through the adcom’s preliminary 15-second examination and get your exceptional credentials to the next level of the admissions process.
1. DO put your most compelling information in the two-inch space at the top of your resume. Be sure to include your most remarkable accomplishments in this “primetime” area, as it’s the first place the reader’s eyes will be drawn.
2. DO use your resume’s primetime space to outline your areas of expertise and skills. This will give the adcom reader a swift but tangible look at your successes and abilities. This portion of your resume should be written after the rest of it has been finished and you’ve decided which qualities and talents you want to highlight.
3. DO give your most recent professional status maximum attention. The portion of your resume for your most recent position should contain a longer list of achievements than your prior jobs. Accomplishments should be listed in order of diminishing significance to the company you are discussing.
4. DO show your influence on the businesses you’ve worked for in measurable ways. If you were able to decrease expenses, include by how much or by what percentage. If you were a project manager, say how many people you managed. Be sure that you always tell how you benefitted the company, and put in the figures to support your assertions.
5. DO make the design of your resume as important at its substance. Use bullets or other suitable marks, horizontal lines to separate major sections and 10-to-12-point traditional typeface for the main part of your resume. Use 1-inch side margins and somewhat smaller top and bottom margins. If your target school has specific guidelines, be sure to follow them!
6. DO include publications, copyrights, addresses, awards, pertinent volunteer involvements and professional licenses or credentials in your resume. These “bonus” items can sometimes be the things that will make the adcom readers sit up and take notice – and want to read the other parts of your application.
7. DO be ruthless in your editing and proofreading. Revise your resume down to the bare minimum. Remember the 15-second rule, and make sure that everything in your resume is the most important, and expressed in the best way possible. Put your resume away for a few days after you’ve completed it, and then revisit your work with fresh eyes. Be sure that you have NO misspelled words or grammatical errors. These inaccuracies will assure that your application hits a dead end.
8. DO follow your work experience with your education. If your degree is the most remarkable or significant aspect of your education section, focus on that. If your alma mater is more notable, highlight that.
9. DO use a two-page resume if applicable. If you have been in the workforce for approximately 10+ years, or have exceptionally remarkable work experience, a two-page resume is acceptable, and sometimes more desirable. Different disciplines and areas of study may need a longer resume with a comprehensive list of publications, etc. However, if your target school has a page limit, follow their guidelines.
Enjoyed the Do’s? Stay tuned for next month’s “Don’ts”! For more information on maximizing your application resume, check out Accepted’s free admissions guide, The Quick Guide to Admissions Resumes.