The purpose of your resume is to clearly communicate a snapshot of your education and experiences, giving the reader a concise picture of the value you bring to an employer. Your resume is, in a sense, an advertisement of yourself. It selectively identifies those experiences and skills that are relevant to a particular job.
Take a look at these resources for advice on crafting the perfect resume:
FAQ: What is the difference between a CV and a resume?
- A CV describes all of your experiences that are relevant to an academic position, including teaching, research and mentoring. This document is unlikely to change substantially from application to application.
- A resume highlights experiences relevant to a particular job. As a result, you may need to modify your resume when applying to positions in different firms or industries or with different functions.
- Be sure to review our CV to Resume Conversion Guide for more information.
- A CV presents a thorough description of all of your academic work, including research and teaching.
- A resume prioritizes only the relevant experience and highlights transferable as well as technical skills where appropriate. Resumes are results-oriented, providing quantitative, measurable details when possible.
- A CV is a comprehensive picture of your academic history and may vary in length; it does not have a page limit.
- A resume is concise and strategic: 1-2 pages for Master's students, 2-3 pages maximum for PhDs and postdocs. Some employers will accept only a 1-page resume, so be sure to check.
- A CV uses titles and nouns to describe your tasks, responsibilities, and the functions you performed.
- A resume uses action verbs to highlight skills, experiences, and achievements.
Extracurricular or outside activities:
- A CV will not contain extracurricular activities unless they are directly relevant your academic research and teaching.
- A resume will strategically highlight prioritize activities if they demonstrate key transferable skills valued by the employer.
For more on the differences between CVs and resumes, see:
FAQ: What errors do students frequently make on their resume?
- Not checking for spelling and grammar errors
- Using passive language instead of action verbs
- Using full sentences and narrative style, instead of action-driven bullet points
- Including a picture or personal information such as marital status or sex
- Listing all positions and activities, instead of selecting those relevant to the position
- Using too much jargon - keep your reader in mind!
- Using slang
- Making it visually cluttered: be aware of white space, and make it concise and quickly readable
- Forgetting to demonstrate results - quantify these results where possible
FAQ: What should I include on a resume?
Your resume should connect your past experiences and accomplishments to the needs of the position. Its purpose is to provide the employer with a clear picture of skills and achievements that is easy and quickly read. Be aware of formatting and font choice and how they affect the readability of your resume, and don't forget to ask others to help you proof-read it for typos.
Determine whether or not jargon, acronyms, or other specific terms will be comprehensible to the reader or relevant to this specific position. If not, do what you can to minimize the inclusion of these terms, while explaining your accomplishments and skills.
- The header should include your name, campus and/or home address, phone number, and Yale email address (although be mindful if/when this address will be expiring).
- The font size on your name may be larger than the rest of the text.
- List your most recently obtained degree first and additional degrees in reverse chronological order. If you have studied abroad, you may also list that in this section beneath the appropriate collegiate experience.
- Include the degree you are pursuing, your program, and anticipated graduation date. Example: PhD in Immunobiology, expected May 2020
- In addition, you may choose to include related coursework, dissertation, thesis project, GPA. Honors and awards can also be included in this section, however it is best to only include academic awards & fellowships, as opposed to scholarships and grants. Monetary amounts need not be included.
Experiences & Activities
- You may include general experience and activity headings, or targeted headings such as Research Experience, Leadership, Management, or Community Involvement. Choose headings that will best group and highlight your experiences as they pertain to the position you are seeking.
- Within each section, list your experiences and activities in reverse chronological order with the most recent first.
- For each experience or activity, include the organization or employer name, your title or role, location, and dates affiliated. Example: President, Graduate Consulting Club, Yale University, Fall 20XX-Present
- Provide concise explanations of your experiences and activities, focusing on accomplishments and results. Begin these descriptive statements with strong action verbs and avoid using personal pronouns. Use our Resume Action Verb list to facilitate your word choice and display a versatile skill set.
Publications & Presentations
- Try to determine the relevance of these, topically, to the position or employer and select a limited number if necessary. There is no need to be exhaustive for most non-academic positions. Use "Relevant Publications & Presentations" as a header if this information is relevant to the position you are applying for.
- Skills (such as Computer, Language, or Laboratory skills)
FAQ: How should my resume be formatted?
- Font size should be between 10-12 points; choose professional and easy to read fonts. Margins typically range between .5 and 1 inch
- Do not use pronouns (e.g. I, my, me, we, our)
- U.S. resumes should not include personal information such as age, marital status, children, or religion.
- Use reverse chronological order (most recent first).
- While it is ideal to be succinct, people with advanced degrees can go beyond the customary 1 page resume. We recommend no more than 2 pages for Master's students and no more than 3 pages for PhDs and postdocs.
- Bold, italics, and bullets can be used in moderation to accentuate and break up content.
- Resume should be visually appealing and easy to read.
- Consistency is essential; for example, if you choose to italicize your title and bold the employer name for one experience, make sure you do the same for all experiences.
- Proofread several times to avoid spelling and grammatical errors, and do not use abbreviations or slang.
FAQ: What should my resume look like if I'm applying for a job with the federal government?
FAQ: Do I need to have a 1-page resume?
- It depends. Generally, we recommend no more than 1-2 pages for Master's students, and 2-3 pages maximum for PhDs and postdocs. Longer resumes will be more relevant if you are applying to research or other positions where your PhD work is directly applicable; in this case, you may want to include your publications and descriptions of research projects. If you are applying to a position where your PhD work is not required, then a shorter resume focused on your transferable skills is advised.
- Please note that some employers will accept only a 1-page resume, so be sure to check.
FAQ: Do I need more than one version of a resume?
- If you are applying to positions with different functions or in different industries, you should tailor your resume to best match your skills to those prioritized by the position. For example, a consulting firm will value transferable skills such as project management, leadership and analytical skills, while a bench position in industry will emphasize your technical knowledge and research experience. Your resume should be organized to best market your background and skills to the reader's need.
FAQ: Where can I find a list of strong action verbs?
- Right here! Use this list of resume action verbs to describe your experiences and contributions.
FAQ: Can OCS help review my resume?
- Yes! Click here to find out how to use OCS's resume review service, meet an advisor through OCS's drop-in hours, or make an one-on-one appointment with an advisor.
- You can also submit your resume for review by emailing a draft to firstname.lastname@example.org. All submissions must be in PDF format, and it can take up to 5 business days to receive a reply.
FAQ: Where can I get industry-specific advice about my resume?
- The Vault Career Guides offer industry-specific advice about resumes, cover letters and more. Vault is a resource that is available free to Yale students and postdocs, Log in here to access Yale's portal to Vault.
- Versatile PhD also provides examples of resumes for a variety of industries and careers. Access to Versatile PhD is provided courtesy of the Office of Career Strategy.
FAQ: I'm interested in jobs abroad. Where can I get country-specfic resume advice?
- GoinGlobal Country Career Guides offers country-specific information about resumes for over 30 countries world-wide. GoinGlobal is free to Yale students and postdocs. Click here!