1. Use keywords from the job posting on your resume.
This will demonstrate your understanding of the job's responsibilities. By using those keywords, your resume can stand out immediately, whether that large stack of resumes is filtered automatically, or by actual human resources representatives.
2. Use complete sentences and the least amount of words.
Brevity is a skill that demonstrates both your writing skills and ability to make good judgment. Yale’s Undergraduate Career Services provides a list of Resume Action Verbs that we encourage you to use.
3. Highlight your accomplishments and your impact.
Rather than simply reiterating your roles and responsibilities, take the time to identify where you have gone above and beyond on the job that helped your company/organization go to the next level. For example, did you write a big report, secure a new grant, or introduce new protocols and procedures? Let employers know!
4. When possible, quantify your experience.
This could depend on the industry you're applying to, but more often than not, people like numbers because it means results. How many events did you organize? How much money did you raise? How many staff members did you train and manage? The exact numbers can be an impressive touch to your resume, and show recruiters and interviewers that you can deliver.
5. Your resume should only be one page.
The rule of thumb is one page for every ten years of experience. This applies to job and fellowship applications. The only exceptions would be if you apply for scholarships or funding. In those instances, you may want to highlight as many experiences as possible. However, in job applications, you want to highlight only your most relevant experiences. Employers read many resumes, so by being brief and mindful about which experiences you put on your resume, you can catch their attention faster.
6. The size of your margins, indents, and spacing should be uniform.
While you don't want your resume to seem cramped, you do want to maximize the space you have for text. Also ensure that the spacing of your bullet points is uniform throughout your resume. You must pay attention to these small details that make your resume not only substantively impressive, but also visually pleasing.
7. Consider moving your educational experience towards the bottom of your resume.
Unfortunately, employers sometimes may automatically pass you over just based on your date of graduation. Rather, let your interviewers see your wide range of work experiences first so that you don't fall into this trap.
8. Proofread, proofread, proofread.
Have friends and colleagues help you edit your resume. Find your most detail-oriented friends and have them look over your draft. Have them check the grammar and spelling, substantive content, and structure. It also helps to have someone else read it to ensure your tone is assertive enough that even they would hire you based on what they read. When asking others to look over your resume, send them a copy of the job description/posting for the job you’re applying for so they can vet that against your resume, and suggest areas of improvement.
RESOURCES AND EXAMPLES
Harvard Kennedy School's Office of Career Advancement and Stanford University's Career Development Center provide more comprehensive resume-building tools and examples. Below are examples of job descriptions from your Dispatchers:
Fellow, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (New York, NY)
September 2013 – Present
- Draft and conduct research for amicus briefs to the United States Supreme Court.
- Conduct research for projects related to the group’s impact litigation caseload or issue areas such as race discrimination in employment and housing.
- Draft comment letters addressed to legislators regarding proposed changes to statutes and ordinances that have a disproportionate impact on communities of color.
Advancement Assistant, Crossroads School for Arts & Sciences (Santa Monica, CA)
August 2012 – October 2013
- Analyzed constituent profiles to target key prospects for cultivation.
- Coordinated sponsorship outreach, asking over 200 current and past vendors to support the school’s annual spring event.
- Supported Special Events Manager in all event logistics from managing RSVPs to day-of coordinating.
- Tracked department-wide expenses, maintained budget of about $450,000, and coordinated budget planning meetings.
- Instituted protocol to effectively track moves management for alumni population of 3,500, whose program exceeded the $300,000 campaign goal.
- Generated alumni gift acknowledgments and ran varied gift and participation reports through Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge.
Communications Fellow, The Greenlining Institute (Berkeley, CA)
August 2011 - August 2012
- 1 of 5 fellows chosen for competitive public policy and leadership development program.
- Developed and implemented the organization’s first-ever comprehensive social media strategy.
- Strengthened brand recognition, grew Twitter audience by 113% (760 to 1620) and Facebook audience by 32% in less than a year.
- Managed 3 social media platforms, curated daily content, and delivered monthly metrics report to measure social impact.
- Led 5-member workgroup to develop organizational strategy to address higher education policy issues.
- Co-authored budget analysis for Assemblywoman Mitchell that resulted in protection of CalGRANT program.
- Planned program for Youth Leadership Symposium where 60 young leaders developed organizing and advocacy skills.
Tam Tran Program and Outreach Fellow, Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (Washington, DC)
February – August 2011
- One of only three staff members to organize APALA’s largest biennial national convention which drew 1,700 attendees from across the country
- Facilitated young leader convention outreach, programming, and caucuses for over 200 young leaders
- Helped raise $5,000 for young leader convention scholarships through organizing fundraisers and individual donor requests.
- Designed curriculum for and launched APALA’s Generations United Mentorship program and Young Leaders Council.