How to Build a Powerful Resume for Your College Application?

A résumé is a snapshot of who you are, as a person, as a professional, and as a prospective student. A résumé can be considered as curriculum vitae for an applicant, putting together a sum total of his/her activities, awards, internships and more. It enables organizing all the information you want the potential colleges to know – and set you up for a smoother college application experience.

Most of the Business Schools abroad have résumé as a requirement for Application along with other admission essays. It enables the applicant to build a connection with the admissions committee so it has to be precise and transparent in conveying information.

Writing a résumé might seem a tedious task as it requires quality self-contemplation. A résumé should only contain information pertaining utmost significance. An ideal résumé should not surpass 1.5 pages. The art of writing a résumé is crucial as it includes presenting your skills, achievements and academic knowledge in the most poignant way.

A résumé is written in accordance to the reader: a professional résumé strongly emphasizes on your job whereas an business-application résumé revolve around your job, education and takes a glance at your involvement and personal development. There is third kind of résumé, popularized as academic résumé, which is prepared for graduate school applications.

What to Include in Your Resume?

A résumé is a chance at hand to emphasize your accomplishments and proudly exhibit what you bring to the table. A well-executed résumé has the ability to set your application apart and give you a competitive edge but one should consider very thoroughly on what to add to your résumé.

Aside from your contact information, which should be clearly visible at the top of the document, you will want to provide whatever is applicable of the following information:

  • The name of your high school and anticipated graduation date
  • Cumulative, weighted GPA
  • Academic awards, publications, honors, or recognitions: Any academic or extracurricular certifications, awards, scholarships etc should be listed under this category. Mentioning publications is especially important for PhD applicants.
  • Class rank (if it is available and will add value to your application)
  • Summer programs, internships, or college courses not otherwise listed in your transcript
  • Extracurricular activities—clubs, sports organizations, and any leadership positions you may have held. List your non-trivial hobbies/interests/activities/leadership positions. Try to mention only slightly uncommon and interesting things.
  • Community service
  • Job experience/internships: Any full-time/part-time work should be mentioned under this category. Sometimes, students do their final year projects with some external research/industrial entity – that can be mentioned here.
  • Special skills (proficiency in American Sign Language, Adobe Photoshop, etc.)

The “do’s” and “don’ts”

  • Language and outlook: Résumé is all about mentioning your accomplishments and what you are capable of. Use phrases instead of full sentences and never write in first person. Never use passive voice. Make use of bullets in lists. Each bullet point should be an action phrase and likely beginning with a verb.
  • Be specific: Colleges pay close attention to specific details, especially those that emphasize your commitment to what you’re involved in. briefly write about your specific role in that which you have participated, giving details about the amount of time you committed and leadership positions you have held.
  • Quantify: Whenever possible, include numbers to show your achievements. Numbers give context and scale and help you stand out. For example if you are an editor of your school’s newspaper, how many papers have you published? How many articles? etc.
  • Be concise: This is exactly where the phrase “less is more” rings true. Résumés are most effective when kept short at just one page in length. Remember the points on your résumé should be as succinct as possible. Admissions officers may have to read thousands of applications. To be memorable, you need to make clear, quick points so that you don’t lose their attention.
  • Proof read: Proofread your résumé carefully before submitting it. A clean, error-free résumé will make you look professional. You don’t have to be a grammar nazi! But avoid making lame grammatical errors. Use read out loud function in MS Word to hear your résumé and check for mistakes. DO NOT rely on MS Word for spell check as it doesn’t have contextual spell check.

General tips:

  • Stick to single font type throughout your résumé. Format your résumé in a way that is clear and easy to read. There’s no need to over-stylize—use a simple font that allows you to make your name, headings, and dates pop out.
  • Use action words like led, researched and created to portray your experiences in an energetic way.
  • Save your résumé as a PDF with a professional, clear title. Include your name and the word “Résumé.” Avoid titles like “asdjks.pdf” or “Résumé.pdf,” which can come across as unprofessional or confusing. Remember, details matter.
  • Don’t include any false information in your résumé. Emphasize your true skills and achievements
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