Anna’s Pondering the Question of the Week Series, Fall 2015: Tweaking a graduate student resume

Greetings and welcome to the 2015-2016 academic year! As we all embark on our new academic and professional experiences, I’m resuming my blog series to reflect on most interesting, challenging or typical questions that students ask me during our individual appointments. I hope that this will help those who may have similar questions but haven’t had a chance to visit the Career Center yet.

During the past first week of the fall semester, I met with several graduate students who wanted to have their resume reviewed. As they start their graduate programs here at AU, they would like to find a part time job or an internship in the areas of their professional interests. For some students, their new career goals are different from their undergraduate degrees and experience. How would you structure your resume in such situations? Let me give you couple general tips and then we can discuss your particular case at length during an individual appointment.

  • As you probably know, employers don’t spend much time reading each applicant’s resume. Therefore, you want the employer to see the most relevant information about you first, and it may be your graduate degree that you are currently pursuing. Start your resume with the EDUCATION section, even if you have worked for couple years. State your Master’s degree first, followed by the information about your undergraduate degree.
  • If your language or computer skills (such as advanced knowledge of Excel, Photoshop, social media data analytics tools, etc.) are relevant for the position that you are applying for, put them right after the EDUCATION section in the SPECIAL SKILLS section.
  • Review carefully the job description to figure out if you can use any of its language to describe your professional experience. Even if your professional experience has been so far in a different field, many keywords describing skills or activities may be similar, e.g. research, develop, evaluate, database, clients, projects, etc.
  • Don’t overload your targeted resume with details that are not relevant for the employer. If you apply to an art organization do they really need to know specific lab tests you have worked on as a Biology major? However, your ability to work independently or in a team, perform under pressure, meet deadlines, will be important almost in any profession, in any field.
  • Include quantifiable results/outcomes whenever possible, e.g. increased by 30%….; delivered presentations to the audience of 30; etc.

Hopefully, these tips will help you start creating a new targeted resume for a new chapter in your life!

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