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Your grad school resume is often the piece of your application that the adcoms review first. It’s considered to be a quick introduction and overview of who you are – your accomplishments and strengths – and how you’ll fit into their program. Because this is a short document, this first impression must be outstanding.
As important as this document is, most admissions committees will only spend about 15 seconds reading your graduate school resume! You want your resume to leave them wanting to learn more about you, and therefore want to examine your entire application.
Here are 5 tips to ensure that your application goes to the top of the pile.
Before you start writing your graduate school cv do your research. Knowing a grad school’s goals and mission is vital to building an effective resume. Understand the kind of students your target program is looking for, and tailor your resume to highlight what in your background is most relevant to the program you’re applying to. Everything you write should relate to your goals. Choose experiences and accomplishments that reflect your goals. This will enable the admissions committee to see how you will fit in their program.
Check out the website of the program you’re interested in to learn more about the school’s goals and mission. Talk to current students and alumni to see if the vision you have for your education and future are in line with your target program. If possible, take a trip to the school to get a feel for how you will fit in.
Your grad school application may be the most important marketing package you ever put together. What product is your resume selling? YOU!
Keep the following two points in mind when honing your marketing message:
How to use the Qualifications Summary in your “sale”
The Qualifications Summary, which is the first paragraph of your resume, can be the most important part of your graduate school resume. Use this to highlight the most impressive details in order to make them stand out. This will enable examples of your exceptional impact to get the reader’s attention and invite them to learn more about you. This is a summary of what follows in your graduate school résumé and serves as a taste of what’s to come. Use your marketing skills to determine what will truly captivate your reader. This should be a short, succinct paragraph, so choose what to include wisely. Put together the rest of your resume first. Go through it and mentally highlight the accomplishments and details that are most relevant to the program you’re applying to. These are the items to include in your Qualifications Summary.
These “extras” can sometimes be the thing that catches the admissions committee’s attention and makes them want to continue studying the rest of your application. If you want to get into certain programs, such as research programs, your prior publications and research experiences are not seen as “extras,” but as integral pieces of your application.
Use the information you gathered in Tip #1 to highlight those things that will show how your background is in line with your chosen program’s goals and mission. For example, if community service is important to the program, spotlight the time that you spent volunteering with underprivileged children during your 4 years of undergraduate studies.
Review your application essays/personal statement and look for particular skills, abilities, talents, or experiences that you should reinforce in your grad school cv. Include some highlights from your professional life and the impact you had.
Highlighting your strengths in your CV
Be sure to:
Addressing your weaknesses
Most people have made mistakes, been downsized, or just didn’t work to their full potential at all times. You must include these events in your grad school résumé, but use this opportunity to present them in the best possible light. You will have a chance to address these negatives more fully in your essays or interview, but how they’re viewed begins in your resume.
Above all else, don't lie
Job-hopping, limited experience and even periods of unemployment can be explained in ways that put positive spins on them. It is vitally important NEVER to lie on your application. Besides being unethical, it is potentially self-destructive. Adcoms will not tolerate lying, and even a “tiny” lie will stop your application process dead in its tracks. Don’t call yourself “Team Leader” if you were part of a team where everyone had equal rank and responsibility. Padding your graduate school resume is not worth being denied admission if you’re found out. And you WILL be found out.
Your resume should be no more than 2 pages in length and should contain NO spelling or grammatical errors. Even seemingly “minor” mistakes can be the end of your application process. Remember, your resume is your first impression. You would not show up to your interview in dirty clothing that needs to be ironed. Spelling or grammatical errors are the spots on your graduate school resume. They make a terrible first impression which could be your last. Once you believe your resume is perfect, put it aside and look at it again in a few days. Ask a trusted friend, colleague, or an admissions professional to review your resume. These “fresh eyes” may find things that you missed before.
Since this is a short document, your first impulse might be to try and squeeze as much information as possible onto those 2 pages. This would be a critical error. Your resume should be neat and well organized, as well as appealing and easy to read.
Stick to these guidelines to create an attractive, impactful grad school resume:
Your grad school cv will present your most impressive work experience, skills, and achievements. It is the first impression that will lead the admissions committee to want to learn more about you. The 5 tips above are just the beginning. This list of resources will teach you how to create a grad school resume that will make a lasting impression on the adcom readers.
Top requested graduate school application resources:
Learn how to write a well-written, compelling grad school resume when you work one-on-one with an Accepted grad school admissions pro. Your personal advisor will help you transform your experiences and accomplishments into a document that grabs the adcom reader’s attention and encourages them to continue reading through your application with excitement. Browse our graduate school resume services now!