How to write
a resume
And a step-by-step guide to writing one for your graduate school application
what is a resume?
A resume is a summary of your professional experience, academic achievements, career goals, and unique skills. Its purpose is to make potential employers or academic committees want you at their organization or university.
employers need only 6.25 seconds to decide if they like you based on your resume.
Employers need only 6.25 seconds on average to make a decision about an applicant based on the resume, according to Forbes. 6.25 seconds! University admissions look at academic-related qualifications, but you get the idea. It takes them only a few seconds to form an opinion about the applicant. That's why your resume needs to strategically highlight your strengths and achievements. For students with less work experience, this may seem especially difficult.

Skoltech professors from the world's top universities review hundreds of resumes every year, they gathered a few tips on how to write a resume specifically for graduate school.
what does a resume include?
1_basic info
Start by writing your name, email and phone number, physical address and social media links (if they are appropriate, of course).
What university or universities did you attend and when? What was your major? Did you write a thesis? Do you have any special certifications or additional education besides a university degree? Don't leave anything out!
3_work experience
Include the name of the organizations you've worked at, the dates and your roles; then, write a few sentences about your duties and achievements. If you don't have any official work experience, you may list internships, volunteering or skip this section altogether.

If you want to leave an impression, this is the place to do it. Include any awards, recognitions, grants or competition results you may have received in your academic career.
Graduate universities like Skoltech pay a lot of attention to leadership and entrepreneurship traits. If you have experience to show them (started a club or maybe even a startup?), make sure to add it to your resume.
Your extracurriculars are also crucial since they depend entirely on your personal initiative and motivation to do something besides school. Make sure to add any relevant clubs, sports or volunteering activities you've participated in.
Many applicants are surprised at the need to include their work experience, hobbies and interests: why would that matter in a grad school application? In reality, the admissions commitees look at these things as carefully as they look at the academic experience. For instance, if you run marathons, it may mean you are a hard worker and can achieve your goals. This serves as proof of your ability to focus on something and work towards a purpose.
Maxim Panov
Assistant Professor, Center for Computational and Data-Intensive Science and Engineering
how to write a good resume: tips
We know it's hard to write if you're not a seasoned writer; we get stuck too. A resume requires strategic thought to promote you as a great candidate, even if it's within 6 seconds. To start, follow these writing tips:
Proofread, proofread, proofread!
Check your spelling, grammar, formatting, and everything that can leave a poor impression on your reader. Bonus tip: ask your friends and family members to read through the document. Other people often notice errors the writers miss.

Quantify your experience
One sure, easy way to do it is to follow the "Show how" rule:
Show how many
  • participated in research
  • published 3 research papers in 3 years
Show how much
  • won a scholarship from Karfidov Lab
  • won a scholarship from Karfidov Lab for $150K to develop a hardware prototype
Show how often
  • participated in college fairs
  • represented my university in 10 fairs, effectively recruiting 100 people per event

Avoid using the passive voice and boring descriptions
Action verbs help put more emphasis on your action rather than letting something look like it happened on its own. For example, compare these two sentences:
  • Was awarded 2nd place in X competition.
  • I won 2nd place in the X competition
  • Was selected for a grant during my senior year of college
  • I won the X grant that helped sponsor my research during my senior year of college.
Can you feel the difference? The admissions committee can, too.
does it matter
what my resume looks like?
Yes, but please don't go overboard. Your resume must show your professionalism first, and your creativity second. Here are a few more tips:
keep it simple
In fact, the simpler and neater your resume, the easier it will be to see its content. There is no need to design the pages in photoshop, as that might only distract the reader from your actual achievements.
Do sweat the small stuff
Make sure all fonts, sizes, colors, and spaces are unified throughout the document. The visual organization is a great way to show your attention to detail and organization skills.
check your spelling
Yes, again.
If there is anything you should take away from this guide, it's that a resume should highlight your strengths in a strategic, but concise way. There is a universally accepted format that is easy for writers to follow and readers to understand. Follow the tips above to write your own resume.
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