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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.

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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 - 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

Resume Formatting

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.

Header

  • The header should 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 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.

Work Experience & Leadership

  • 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: Yale Graduate Consulting Club, President, New Haven, CT, Sept. 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.

Additional Sections 

  • Depending on your skills and targeted field, you may add additional sections:
    • Computer
    • Language
    • Laboratory Skills
    • Performances

Tip: Format Tips

  • 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; if you italicize a job 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.

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 your past work, internship, student organization, volunteer, military, or education experiences. When writing these statements, many students simply list their roles, responsibilities, and tasks; while this is a good start, employers want to also know how you can contribute to their team or organization. In other words, don’t just list what your role was; also give 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.

Tip: 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?
  • What are you most proud of? What would others you have worked with say about your contribution? How have organizations benefitted 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

Guideline: Project + Action + 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
Guideline: 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
Guideline: Converting from Activities to Result Bullets: Before and After

Before

  • Worked with a student leadership committee to increase member participation
  • Contributed to system for streamlined application submissions and tracking
  • Selected for scholarship

After

  • Led a 5-person leadership team to increase student participation by 50% from 50 to 100 members by creating a stronger social media presence
  • Collaborated with the IT team to develop an online application submission and tracking system, reducing cost by 10%
  • Selected as one of 230 participants nationwide, based on top class rank coupled with community engagement work

Tips:

  • Use Powerful Action Verbs: While each bullet starts with an action verb, certain action verbs sound more impactful than others. e.g. led, created, developed
  • Quantify your Impact: Before revision, bullets are focused mostly on describing activities, not outcomes. It is important to numerically measure what you accomplished through your actions
  • Contextualize Your Accomplishment: Provide a baseline for comparison to make it easier for recruiters to understand your accomplishment
Guideline: Converting from Activities to Skill Bullets: Before and After

Before

  • Explored the evolutionary origins of various cognitive processes by studying capuchin monkeys
  • Looked at branding and marketing strategies of Company X in comparison to competitors
  • Worked with fellow interns to put on a conference

After

  • Delivered key insights on the evolutionary origins of cognitive processes by researching and analyzing over 100 years of literature on capuchin monkeys
  • Compiled an overview of the competitive landscape for Company X by conducting expert interviews and online research
  • Facilitated collaboration among 5-person intern team to put on a conference; divided tasks based on expertise, developed a feasible timeline, and kept team on task and within budget

Tips

  • Pitch Your Skills: Highlight transferable skills you gained from your past experience that your future employer will value (e.g. research, analytic skills, teamwork, communication skills, leadership)
  • Be Specific: The inclusion of relevant details shows the reader that the candidate is capable of making an impact in the organization

Resume FAQs

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 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.

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 research position 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 ocs.resumereview@yale.edu.  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.

FAQ: I'm interested in jobs abroad. Where can I get country-specific 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!