A good academic resume can make or break your application for a scholarship, fellowship, academic award, graduate program, or assistantship. An academic resume differs in several ways from a resume that you might use when applying for a job. Check out my example resume to see what I mean.
Academic resumes are generally two pages long, highlighting your academic accomplishments, extracurricular activities & leadership, community service involvement, and any honors and awards you have received. Your resume should contain vital content only – do not add any “filler”. It should be attractive with an easy-to-read layout and design. Here are 5 things to think about when creating your academic resume:
Try to organize your resume in a way that is clear for the reader but showcases your experience and accomplishments well.
- You should include your name, address, phone number, and email address at the top of the first page.
- In a header or footer, you should include your last name and the page number on each page of the resume.
- Try to organize your content so as to highlight your strengths. Don’t feel like you need to strictly follow a template. Make the order of the content significant to you.
2. Content Headings
Always start with a section about your education. Include the name of the university you attended or are attending and its location, your degree, your major(s) and minor(s), your GPA, and the date you graduated or expect to graduate. If relevant, you could also include your thesis title and any other educational highlights that do not fit anywhere else.
Other typical content headings include the following:
- Honors & Awards
- Publications & Presentations
- Research Experience
- Campus Activities & Leadership
- Community Service
- Employment / Work Experience
Some less common, but possibly useful section headings include:
- Academic and Professional Experience
- Personal Interests
You will see on my example resume that I included sections for “Musical Training & Experience” and “Performance Experience.” These are relevant specifically to my department and major. Feel free to create your own content headings that best showcase your abilities and fit your area of study.
3. Content Formatting
The biggest goal of formatting is consistency. Be sure that the formatting of the whole document is cohesive.
- Provide dates of accomplishments and activities, including both months and years.
- List each section in reverse chronological order according to end date. This pattern can be broken to feature important pieces of content prominently.
- Provide locations for any off-campus organizations and businesses.
- Use commas, colons, semi-colons, dashes, and parentheses to order information logically.
- Exclude articles from your writing – ‘the,’ ‘a,’ or ‘an’ are not necessary. Try to boil everything down to phrases.
- Be sure to include any necessary explanatory details, such as the names of organizations, the value of scholarships, or your activities and duties in leadership positions.
4. Layout & Design
Make your resume attractive, but do not let a clever design obscure your content. Make it readable and easy on the eye. Make any layout logical and consistent throughout the document.
- Do not crowd too much text together – there should be some white space to guide the eye through important groupings.
- Consider using italics, boldface, or underlining for organization and readability.
- Try using tables or horizontal lines to separate sections.
- Experiment with spacing between lines.
- Pay attention to page breaks and do not break in the middle of a content section.
After you have put your resume together, it is important to know how to use it affectively:
- Save your resume not only as a word document for editing, but also as a PDF. Many application processes take place completely online. When submitting your resume digitally, never send an editable document that may appear different in varying versions of software. Always email or upload a PDF for applications.
- Keep your resume updated. Review it at least once a year and add any new activities, experiences, or accomplishments.
- Tailor your resume to fit each opportunity for which you apply. Some simple rearranging can make a big difference by emphasizing the most relevant of your experiences.
- If you have to remove some content for the sake of length, take out those things that you think every other applicant will also have. Leave anything that will make you stand out.