How to write a resume.

Pens and ink. (From Keith Williamson on Flickr.)

With application season gearing up, all sorts of questions are coming up– not surprisingly, they don’t all involve personal statements. Application packets can be lengthy with lots and lots of written, edited material to keep track of– your statement, of course, as well as letters of recommendation, supplemental essays (like addenda, for instance), and your resume.

In all this hubbub, the resume is often left for last, as it is supposedly the easiest of them all. To some extent, that is true. But don’t ignore it and certainly don’t forget about it– it is representative of you by containing a wealth of information about you, making a vital document in your application.

Whether you’ve chosen to write about volunteering for an NGO or coaching the local little league team, you are free to talk about these experiences in your statement. But, you don’t want to waste valuable space (and time!) listing your entire job description. Of course, your personal statement might not even be about about your time at school or in the work force– and that makes your resume even more important.

Your personal statement is meant to highlight your personality and drive. In it, you’re encouraged to describe how your school, work, and life experiences have demonstrated your qualities or have honed and developed them. Your resume, in turn, provides the background knowledge of these experiences. While your personal statement is meant to persuade the admission counselor with a creative yet compelling argument,  your resume provides the factual evidence to back this up. It serves as a gallery of your school and work experiences, awards, and accomplishments. Your resume is where you can more explicitly state what these work and job responsibilities were / are and how they fit with these qualities emphasized in your personal statement.

A helpful way to start working on your resume is to brainstorm. Think about what each and every  role you’ve had in school, work, or elsewhere. Think carefully– what were you responsible for? What were you counted on to bring to the table? Chances are, somehow and somewhere, you were responsible for something– in some way or another, a responsibility rested totally with you. Admissions councelors want to see that you have been held responsible and accountable for a job well done in some way and that a person or team has counted on you.

Then, use action words and phrases to move your resume. Be demonstrative with your job titles, descriptions, and work history. You want to highlight these responsibilities in a way that’s dynamic, allowing you ownership of your duties. Think beyond what you’ve done but what you’ve accomplished. The following are good examples of action phrases:

  • “Performed…”
  • “Created…”
  • “Worked directly with…”
  • “Managed…”
  • “Increased…”
  • “Produced…”
  • “Handled all…”
  • “Improved…”
  • “Enhanced…”
  • “Worked alongside with [lead supervisor/director/head coordinator/etc]
  • “Expanded…”
  • “Responsible for…”
  • “Achieved…”
  • “Succeeded in…”
  • “Completed…”
  • “Secured…”

…and so on.

When writing your job descriptions, you need to highlight where and how you were directly involved in each  role– whether it was by being director or coordinator yourself, or being shift manager at Starbucks. You will need to showcase all of your responsibilities held as these will be further testament to your exceptional abilities next to your statement. By brainstorming effectively and using action phrases like the ones I’ve listed above, you’ll be well on your way.


2 Responses to How to write a resume.

  1. […] tying up loose ends: editing and proofreading your addendum, your diversity statement, your resume, and, most important of all, your personal statement.  You’ve drafted and re-drafted, and […]

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