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Admissions Basics: Fine-Tuning Your Resume

March 18, 2021

A graduate school resume is not unlike one you’ve submitted for any job you’ve applied to before—but we wouldn’t be writing this guide if it were that simple. When you’re working through your application to a master’s program, you should ensure that you tailor and pitch your resume toward the specific university, program, and opportunities you desire. Furthermore, admissions committees want to hear about your professional and educational success, so you have to make sure to cover all of your bases.

It can be tricky to strike the right balance when writing a graduate school resume, or really any resume. You want to promote your accomplishments, but you don’t want to sound boastful. You want to provide details, but you don’t want to be long-winded. To help you work through the kinks, we’ve created a seven-step guide with our most important tips and suggestions. Read on to see how the proper layout and content can improve your odds for admission to your target program.

1. Start your layout with a blank slate.

When developing a resume, it can be tempting to look at templates as a one-size-fits-all solution. However, your resume will have a greater impact if it stands out from the crowd. Giving more attention to visual detail will provide a powerful first impression with the admissions committee. A strong resume is organized clearly and has visually outlined sections. It should also have legible, modern fonts (stay away from script fonts and comic sans). There should be consistent alignment and a good balance between text and white space.

On the other hand, a sloppy, boring, or overly busy design could have your resume stand out for the wrong reasons. Avoid bright colors, inconsistent spacing, and unnecessarily large chunks of text. Keep your document saved in a Microsoft Word (or similar program) document and a PDF so it can be easily emailed and printed.

2. Speak to your intended audience.

You can’t change your past experience and accomplishments, but you can change the way you frame them by tailoring the descriptions for each resume you create. Try to find a good balance between academic and professional achievements. It’s important that the admissions committee clearly sees your drive for professional success as well as your ability to focus and succeed in the classroom. Include any academic honors or activities that you think are most relevant in this context.

3. Focus on the present.

The admissions committees want to know how your experiences and skills helped to shape the perfect candidate they see today. Highlight your current role and go into the most detail when discussing the responsibilities you hold now. You should also include any achievements and promotions you have accomplished at your current company.

Some MBA programs, such as the online MBA program at the Sy Syms School of Business at Yeshiva University, require at least three years of professional experience to apply. If this is the case for you, be sure to highlight the greatest hits from your three years of work experience. Emphasize standout projects you’ve worked on, metrics that can directly showcase your impact, and any awards or accolades you may have earned along the way.

4. Be able to explain any gaps.

Life happens, and your resume reader will likely understand that sometimes there are bumps in the employment road. If you’ve experienced some employment gaps, don’t emphasize it on the resume itself, but be prepared to discuss it clearly and confidently when asked.

5. Emphasize relevant outside interests.

We spend the bulk of our days at work, but not every noteworthy achievement occurs there. Admissions will look for activities and accolades outside of the classroom and office, too. Don’t be afraid to share a little about your personal self! If you spend time volunteering or doing community service and you feel that it’s relevant to your goals and demonstrates your character, you should include it in your graduate school resume. Details like this help your readers get a better picture of who you are as a person.

6. Select a suitable length.

One full page has been held as the standard length for a resume, and generally this is a good guide. However, if you’ve accumulated enough relevant experience in your academic and professional life, you can expand to two pages two paint a more complete picture. The key is to be honest and continue to be concise. If you pad the content merely to expand your resume’s length, your readers will quickly see through that attempt.

7. Proofread thoroughly (and ask for assistance).

There’s nothing worse than sending off an email, only to read it again and realize there was a typo. Content that’s free of grammar and spelling errors will go a long way toward framing yourself as a detail-oriented professional and master’s degree candidate. When you believe your resume is ready, set it aside for a few hours, then come back to read it again. Fresh eyes will help you catch any remaining issues and ensure it’s easy to read and follow. A pair of even fresher eyes can’t hurt either; ask a trusted friend or colleague to give your resume a final proofread as well. They may have perspectives and feedback that you wouldn’t have thought of on your own.

Put Your Resume to Use at Yeshiva University

By following this guide, you should be well on your way to crafting a resume that will wow the readers in the Sy Syms School of Business when you apply to one of our online graduate programs.

Explore all of the admissions requirements for the Sy Syms Online MBA, MSA, or MSRE programs, and read our blog post on requesting letters of recommendation for more insight into the application process.