The purpose of a 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. It selectively identifies the experiences and skills most relevant to a position. Once you have a draft ready, students can:
Be aware of resume formatting and font choice and how they affect readability, and don’t forget to ask others to proofread 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.
- Header: Include your name, email address and phone number. It is not necessary to include your street address. Once you build your LinkedIn Profile, consider listing your personal URL under your name. The font size on your name should be slightly larger than the rest of the text.
- Education: List your most recent degree first and other degrees in reverse chronological order. Include the degree, your program, and anticipated graduation date. Study abroad, related coursework, dissertation, thesis project, GPA, academic honors and awards may also be included in this section.
- Work Experience & Leadership: You may include a general experience headings or specific headings such as Research Experience, Leadership, or Community Involvement. Within each section, list your experiences and activities in reverse chronological order. For each experience or activity, include the organization or employer name, your title or role, location, and dates. Provide concise explanations of your experiences and activities, focusing on creating accomplishment statements 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 (optional): This section is more commonly found in graduate student and postdoc resumes. List only the most relevant to the position or employer. There is no need to be exhaustive for non-academic positions.
- Skills & Interests: Depending on your targeted field, you may add computer, language, laboratory skills, or performances. Adding a few interests that convey more about your personality can be great interview conversation starters.
Resume Template/Samples + Common Errors
OCS has numerous resume samples that can be downloaded and personalized. Choose the one right for your area of interest! Use our downloadable resume template, our strong resume action verbs and our resume rubrics for graduate students and undergraduates as you update your resume.
Do you need to convert a CV to a resume? Check out our tips on CV to Resume Conversion.
Avoid Common Resume Errors
- 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, acronyms or slang – keep your reader in mind!
- 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
Resume Accomplishment Statements
Accomplishment statements are the bullets/sentences under the experience section of your resume that describe and quantify your achievements, results, and successes from prior internship, student organization, volunteer, military, or education experiences. When writing these statements, don’t just list your role, responsibilities, and tasks; employers want to also know how you can contribute to their team or organization. Provide specific examples of the impact you made and the value you added during those experiences. The following guidelines will help you start the process of writing strong accomplishment statements that highlight your qualifications and demonstrate your skills. Before you start writing accomplishment statements, consider the following:
❓ Have I ever: Improved something? Achieved more with fewer resources or money? Reduced costs? Improved productivity? Saved time? Increased recruitment numbers? Designed, developed, or implemented a new process, program or product? Brought diverse constituents together to accomplish something? Improved morale? Solved a pressing problem? Managed or led a team? Presented complex information clearly? Successfully multitasked? Dedicated long hours of work to accomplish something within a short timeframe? Balanced extracurricular/outside commitments with coursework? Took initiative without anyone asking? Received awards or positive performance reviews?
❓ Also consider: What are you most proud of? What would others you have worked with say about your contribution? How have organizations benefited from your work? What special projects have you worked on and what was the outcome? What is the tangible evidence of your accomplishments?
Guidelines for Creating Impactful Bullets
Action + Project + Result Format
- Project: Group related tasks together into more meaningful projects or activities
- Action: Choose an action verb that describes what YOU did and what YOUR contribution was (NOT your TEAM!) to the project/activity. Highlight what SKILLS you made use of or gained through this experience
- Result: Pitch the result and impact of your work. QUANTIFY the result and impact in terms of % improvement or % increase. If your work resulted (or will result) in a publication or patent, mention that
✏️ Write it out: [A] Choose an action verb + [P] Name a project you completed or problem you solved + [R] Describe the results you achieved, quantifying when possible
Accomplished [X] as measured by [Y] by doing [Z] Format
✏️ Write it out: [X] Lead with the impact you delivered + [Y] Numerically measure what you accomplished + [Z] Detail specifically what you did
➡ See the creating accomplishment statements blog for specific before and after examples that can help you transition your bullets into accomplishments.
- What should my resume look like if I’m applying for a job with the federal government?
- Do I need to have a 1-page resume?
It depends. Generally, undergraduates have a one-page resume, 1-2 pages for Master’s students, and 2-3 pages maximum for PhDs and postdocs. Longer resumes may be relevant if you are applying to research positions or within the performing arts. Talk with an OCS advisor if you are unsure.
- Do I need more than one version of a resume?
If you are applying across different functions/roles or different industries, you should tailor your resume to best match the skills for that position. For example, a consulting firm will value transferable skills such as project management, leadership, and analytical skills, while a research position will emphasize your technical knowledge and research experience. Your resume should be organized to best market your background and skills to the specific position.
- 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.
- Can OCS help review my resume?
- 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 free for Yale students and postdocs.
- I’m interested in jobs abroad. Where can I get country-specific resume advice?
GoinGlobal Country Career Guides offer country-specific information about resumes for over 30 countries and is free to Yale students and postdocs.
By Mary Anne Thompson, Founder, www.goinglobal.com
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Check out OCS’ examples below to make sure the accomplishment statements on your resume make a strong impact to any employer.
Converting to Result Bullets: Before and After
Worked with a student leadership committee to increase member participation