Jul 03, 2021

Tuck Admissions Insights: Make Your Resume Shine

Patricia Harrison

By Patricia Harrison
Co-Executive Director, Admissions and Financial Aid

Mathias Machado T'09, Director of Career Services and Resources

In this blog post, we turn our attention to an important component of your Tuck application: your resume. We’ve partnered with Career Services to offer guidance that will help your resume shine.

A Resume, A Snapshot
An impactful resume is an important part of your Tuck application. When starting to read your file, many officers on our team will first look at your resume before reviewing other parts of your application. Your resume is also the only document your Tuck interviewer will see prior to interviewing you. Creating a strong first impression is important, and having a resume that is representative of your work output, skills, interests, and community involvement allows you to highlight specific meaningful aspects of your experience to others. Your resume should be a snapshot of experiences and achievements, and show that you have the transferable skills needed to succeed, not only in an academic setting, but beyond the classroom as well. Yes, your resume helps us understand how you align with the Accomplished criterion; however, a well-crafted resume can be used as a vehicle to speak to the Smart, Aware and Encouraging criteria as well.

This may seem like a heavy lift for one piece of paper, but it’s definitely achievable!

The Format
Your resume should be one page in length to allow the reader to navigate to key information quickly. In addition to fitting everything you’d like to highlight on one page, pay attention to the margins (not too narrow), spacing (1.0 suggested), and font size (no smaller than 10 point). Maintain formatting consistency throughout the resume and use white space for easy reading. We do not have a preferred template for candidates to use. However, if you’d like additional guidance on how to best structure and format your resume, including a Tuck resume format template as an example, take a look at our comprehensive resume writing guide

Quality, not quantity is key. If you list everything you have done at every job, you’ll be breaking the formatting guidelines above and will demonstrate some misalignment with our Aware criterion. Granted, every resume is unique, but most impactful ones follow a similar formula that you can leverage:

Focus on achievements, not responsibilities. One way to differentiate between the two is to ask yourself—“If I Ieave this job, will the next person who fills my role be able to write the same bullet point?” If the answer is yes, then there is room to improve. Your goal is to show the value you brought to the role. For instance, “Responsible for customer application processing” tells the reader about your experience, but is not unique to you and may be relevant to all jobs in the same function. Ask yourself if there was anything you did to deliver above and beyond expectations. For instance: “Took initiative to work with stakeholders across the company to create and implement interventions that helped reduce customer application processing time” provides evidence that you have transferable skills, not just functional experience.

Quantifying results can be useful, but is not essential. To help the reader understand the scale of your achievement, you could add a level of detail to the above bullet such as “Introduced automated processes that decreased the customer application processing time from one month to two days.” However, every bullet does not need to include a numerical result, so don't try to force it if something is not quantifiable. Please also know that your resume is equally valuable if you don’t come from what you might think of as a “traditional” business background and the work you do is not easily quantified. We’re excited to get to know you and your many accomplishments, regardless of your industry, and our experienced readers will calibrate your achievements and behaviors relative to the nature of your work.

Finally, show us how you achieved the result. We want to see how you approached a task or problem rather than just the result. What were the steps you took that were essential drivers of success? Consider the difference between “solved quality issue with production line and saved $Xm per year” and “solved quality issue by investigating source of problem, mining data, running workshops with workers, and leading team to design new process, saving $Xm per year.” The second version emphasizes the route you took to success and allows us to get a better read on how you demonstrate our Accomplished criterion.

Why is this important? Results rarely carry over from one context to the next. It is highly unlikely that you will need to tackle exactly the same problem at Tuck as you did previously in your career. As mentioned in a previous blog, your behaviors are transferable skills that could be indicators of impact at Tuck and in your professional life, and they help us calibrate across diverse backgrounds and experiences. By providing examples of your behavior, you show us not only how those impressive results were earned, but also indicate that your strong performance can be replicated here at Tuck and beyond.

Beyond Your Professional Experience
Finally, pay attention to the non-professional part of your resume. The Education and Personal sections of your resume are just as important as the professional section, and are used for the same purpose—to showcase your achievements and transferable skills. Use the Education section to show us more than just the school(s) you have attended–we see this information in your application and on the transcript(s). Focus on showing leadership and/or involvement (for instance clubs or societies that you led), entrepreneurial mindset (clubs and societies that you founded) and evidence of achievement (strong GPA, strong GMAT, academic or athletic achievements, Deans List, etc.).

Use the Personal section to highlight leadership and/or involvement, achievement (e.g., pastimes that show a commitment to excellence), or a desire to drive change (community contributions, etc.). And if space allows for it, consider adding one or two lines in your personal section that are purely about your interests. This information helps us see more of you, the applicant, and is often used by our interviewers to start small-talk and get to know you better. Try to be specific when listing interests, so instead of saying that you enjoy “baking and reading," consider writing “conquering sourdough bread baking and reading about Baroque composers.”

We hope you take our advice to heart and invest in putting forth a resume that closely reflects your achievements and interests. Let us, and everyone else who looks at this document get a better understanding of you as an academic, a professional, and a person.