How to Write your Résumé

How to Write your Résumé

Differences between a Résumé and a Curriculum Vitae CV

There are several differences between a résumé and a curriculum vitae (CV), but one of the most important ones is the length of the document.  A résumé should disclose your accomplishments and qualifications in no more than one or two pages.  In other words, your résumé should be designed for quick review and not as detailed as your curriculum vitae. 

When creating your résumé, make sure to include your extracurricular activities and also pay attention to visual and formatting choices for the document. Make it stand out. You want the admission committee to stop when they see it, and to want you as a student after they read it.  Typically your statement of purpose serves the same goal; however, if you can stand out even more with your résumé, then by all mean use that tool to sell yourself as well.

To accomplish your goal, first visit the website of the university department for your field.  Use the information provided in the website about the department and their faculty, and alter the wording of your résumé to fit with the academic focus of the department.  Obviously, you do have to make sure that you are interested in the field and have the applicable qualifications. 

If you have been asked for your curriculum vita rather than a résumé, the format will allow you to be more specific and give as much information about your own experiences in academia and the workforce as you want.  You want to be specific and clear when describing your skills and experiences. 

In your curriculum vitae, you should list all work experiences and every achievement including awards, grants, publications, research experiences, papers, and presentations relevant to your application, and any other related academic and professional experience.

To listen to YouTube instruction and guide regarding résumés and differences from the CV, go to

How to write your résumé

When writing your résumé, try to be concise and do not include personal information not relevant to your application such as your age, religion, sex, height, or weight. Sometimes students add their picture; again this is not necessary and not usual for a U.S.-style résumé.

Start your résumé with your name and contact information, including your phone number and e-mail address.  List your educational background in reverse chronological order with the degree(s) that you have had received from each institution. If you are still in school and expect to graduate in the future, write the date that you will be awarded your degree. 

Continue by listing all work or internship experiences from the most recent date to the earliest. Remember to always focus on the information most relevant to the program that you are applying to. 
You may want to include the following sections in your résumé (the first three are the most important of course but the other sections may be valuable to highlight other accomplishments and knowledge):

  1. Name, address, contact information
  2. Education (include your GPA)
  3. Work experience and internships
  4. Language(s)
  5. Computer, marketing, other skills
  6. Extracurricular activities and awards

In both résumés and CVs, you’ll need to add the duration of each employment or internship period.  Write the title of your job and the duties.  Use bullet points to separate each responsibility and description.  Make sure to write short sentences using active keywords and start with verbs in past tense unless you are still employed there.  See samples:

Upcoming GRE General Test Changes

GRE will be undergoing some changes as of August 2011.  We encourage you to read about details of these changes on their website:

Some of the changes that may affect you include—         

How and When to Connect with Faculty Members

One common mistake that students make is to they set their mind on applying to only one high-ranking university and then contact one faculty there for advice.  If you want to set yourself up for disappointment, you can limit yourself in this way and not take advantage of the 4,000 U.S. institutions that may have the program that you are seeking to study.  The more options you have the better the chances in getting feedbacks and the opportunity for admission.

Students often wonder how to locate and make connection with faculties.  You can use university search engines such as Peterson’s ( or even search by using Google and typing keywords and phrases that best describe what you are looking to find, for example “graduate programs in chemistry,” “undergraduate programs in mechanical engineering”. In order to find a list of universities, sometimes it will suffice to use very basic popular search engines.

The result should give you list of universities that offer the program that you are looking for at the level that you wish to continue your study. You will be able to access the department for your field directly from the university website and access the links to “faculty” members there.   Before e-mailing them, take the time to familiarize yourself with the type of work and research they are doing.  It is important to have some information about the faculty before contacting them. 

Not all faculty members respond to every email they receive from students; however they do read them and if you have an effective CV or résumé and can make the positive connection, they will reply to let you know that you seem qualified to join their group of students and may want to apply officially.  As a reminder, however, do not put all your eggs in one basket.  Contact as many faculty members and read about as many opportunities and programs available in the United States as you can before making your decision as to which may or may not be the right fit for you.  If you can answer this question without hesitating your chances for student visa approval may also rise.

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