When competing against hundreds of other applicants for limited seats in degree programs, it’s essential that your resume quickly conveys what you can bring to the program in terms of academic abilities, special talents, or real-world experiences. Below are general guidelines as to what admissions directors seek in application resumes. Be advised that it’s always wise to first check with the targeted school for specific guidelines that will help in creating your new resume so that it gets noticed.
Should you use a Resume or a CV (Curriculum Vitae) for Admission to Schools?
Generally speaking, if you’re applying to college or a university for an undergraduate degree program, or to a law/business/medical school, a resume should be employed.
If you are applying for a medical fellowship and have numerous publications, presentations, and abstract submissions, the preferred format is the CV. CVs, unlike resumes, may be longer than two pages in length, and often exceed ten pages when the candidate has numerous publications.
Guidelines for resumes used in application to Colleges or Universities for Undergraduate Degrees:
1. Opening Summary: This should provide an admissions director with a “snapshot” of you as a candidate, and your most relevant accomplishment. The achievement may be academic in nature (a perfect SAT score, selection as Class Valedictorian), may involve a specific talent (awards for art work or in drama competitions), or be focused towards athletics (member of football team that won division championship). The idea is to show your skill and potential.
2. Education: In addition to listing your high school, include any relevant club memberships (National Honor Society, Gold Key Club, Art Club for an aspiring artist – Language Clubs for an aspiring Linguist/Interpreter), honors (dean’s list, etc.), and anything else that made your work in high school special.
3. Volunteer Work: List first that volunteer work that coincides with your future goals. For example, if your intent is to study sociology or psychology in college, then detail volunteer work done at homeless/battered women shelters.
4. Hobbies: List first those hobbies that coincide with your future goals. (i.e. working with fabrics and sewing if you’re interested in becoming a Fashion or Interior Designer).
5. Length: No more than one page
Many schools will have their own requirements. It’s best to follow those directives in constructing your resume.
However, some general components are:
1. Education: List only the Bachelor’s Degree, not any Associates Degrees leading up to it. Include coursework that is relevant to the graduate program (i.e. Banking coursework for Finance programs), and any academic honors such as scholarships, dean’s lists, honor societies.
2. Professional Experience: Your employment and relevant daily duties presented in a reverse chronological order – that is, your most recent employment first, followed by the next most recent, and so on. If the school requires it, include full dates of employment – that is, both months and years. If no such requirement exists, then only provide years of employment (i.e. 2001-2004).
3. Volunteer Work & Hobbies/Interests
1. A Qualifications Summary: These are optional. Some schools may even require that they not be included. It’s best to check with the school to which you are applying to determine if inclusion of an opening summary is appropriate.
2. Career Accomplishments: Professional achievements can be showcased in their own section, or as a part of the employment listing. It’s best to check with the graduate school to see which is preferred.
3. Length: It’s best to check with the targeted school to see if any length restrictions exist.
Guidelines for resumes used in application to Law Schools:
The specific requirements for most law schools are:
1. List all academic and non-academic honors and awards received, including fellowships, prizes and memberships in honor societies; list and/or describe the basis for your selection.
2. List your extracurricular activities since entering undergraduate school, the hours per week devoted to such activities, and the dates of the activities.
3. List your positions of employment since high school (either full or part time), the number of hours per week devoted to each position, and the dates of employment.
1. Length: Generally speaking, most law school resumes are no more than one page in length. However, some law schools have their own length restrictions and/or requirements. It’s best to check with the school to which you are applying to determine what is most appropriate.
2. Opening Summary (also known as Qualifications Summary): These are optional. Some schools may even require that they not be included. It’s best to check with the school to which you are applying to determine if inclusion of an opening summary is appropriate.
Guidelines for resumes used in application to Business Schools:
Unlike other graduate school programs, Business Schools are seeking candidates that have real world experience. Therefore, in applying to this type of graduate program, the resume should resemble, as closely as possible, one being sent to a hiring manager.
The components of a Business School resume include:
1. A Qualifications Summary: This brief paragraph should provide relevant and recent data that enhances your candidacy. This would include an overview of your professional experience (i.e. “Internet Entrepreneur with a successful background in founding and operating two websites specializing in. . .”), a recent/relevant accomplishment (i.e. “Increased sales at Bank One by 40% within six months of hire by implementing a unique bank card program targeted towards college students.”), and your goal in applying to Business School (i.e. “Currently seeking admission into the MBA program to enhance business skills for a future as a venture capitalist.”)
2. Career Accomplishments: When competing against countless other candidates with similar backgrounds, the only thing that sets you apart is what you achieved during your professional career. These accomplishments should be showcased in a separate section, directly beneath the Qualifications Summary. They should be quantified with dollar figures, percentages, and time frames, if possible (i.e. “Reduced costs 35%, representing $4000 monthly, by outsourcing all publishing work.”)
3. Professional Experience: Your employment and relevant daily duties, presented in a reverse-chronological order – that is, your most recent employment first, followed by the next most recent, and so on. Accomplishments that have been previously provided should not be repeated here.
4. Education: List only the Bachelor’s degree, not any Associates Degrees leading up to it. Include any academic honors such as scholarships, dean’s lists, honor societies.
5. Length: Business school resumes generally can be two pages in length as long as only relevant data, as it pertains to the application, is included.
Guidelines for resumes used in application to Medical Schools:
The components of a Medical School resume include:
1. Education and Training: List here GPAs, honors (dean’s list, scholarship), memberships in relevant honor societies, relevant coursework (Biology, Labs)
2. Professional Experience Related to Medicine
3. Other Professional Experience
4. Volunteer Work Related to Medicine
5. Other Volunteer Work
6. Hobbies & Interests – if relevant to medicine
1. Opening Summary: It’s best to check with the selected medical school as to whether a Qualifications Summary is allowed. If not, exclude.
2. Length: This can vary from school to school. Therefore, it’s best to check with the selected medical school as to the appropriate length of the resume.