Jul 02, 2021
Tuck Admissions Insights: Resume Writing Guide
By Valeria Wiens
Associate Director of Evaluation, Admissions
Mathias Machado T'09, Director of Career Services and Resources
When submitting an application, your goal is to have a concise and compelling resume that represents your work output, skills, interests, and community involvement. A well-crafted resume highlights specific meaningful aspects of your experience to others. This guide is an introduction to resume writing and formatting principles. The goal is to help you translate your past experience into future goals, using the resume as a vehicle.
Experience. This should take up the bulk of your resume. Approach this section as an opportunity to showcase results and accomplishments from your career to-date.
- List employer(s') name(s), position(s) held, including job title, and dates of employment.
- Use reverse chronological order, i.e. your most recent position first. If you held several positions with the same employer, break out those positions and accomplishments in reverse chronological order.
- For every position held, organize your bullets from most important to least.
- Think carefully about what makes an accomplishment significant and focus on the outcomes that had the greatest impact rather than the ones that took the longest to achieve.
- Write about your achievements. You do not need to repeat your job description.
- Describe the context in which your work was done (i.e. resource constraints, deadlines, declining market share, etc.).
Composing effective bullet points for the experience section of a resume is the most challenging part of the resume writing process. A way to approach this is to structure the bullets as a verb + result + action/skills. Formatting bullets according to this structure will show the reader what problem you addressed, what actions you took, what results you achieved, and possibly what skills you developed in the process. Here are two examples of well-structured bullet points:
- Developed audience expansion strategy for gaming products by assessing consumer adoption trends, competitive offerings, and emerging technologies.
- Grew revenue by 20% year over year by leading a team of five members located in Canada and Germany through strategic planning and execution to optimize client's return on investment.
Education. This section of your resume is just as important as the experience section and is used for the same purpose—to showcase your achievements and transferable skills. This is your opportunity to show more than just the school(s) you attended.
- Unless you are currently pursuing your degree, position the Education section below the Experience section.
- Include all relevant education in this section: undergraduate, master’s degree, and study abroad programs.
- Specify your major(s) and minor(s), dates of attendance, degree(s) received, and academic distinctions (Dean’s List, cum laude, etc.).
- Include merit-based awards, positions, athletic involvement, and significant activities, especially if you held/hold leadership roles.
Personal / Other. This section rounds you out as an individual beyond your professional and academic accomplishments. It provides a glimpse into a more “informal” side of your profile, and our interviewers will often ask interview questions about statements in this section.
- This is a good place to include language abilities, community service, professional memberships or societies, professional designations (CFA, CPA, etc.), extracurricular activities, and unique interests.
- Whenever possible, list specific interests. For example, instead of “baking and reading,” write “conquering sourdough bread baking and reading about Baroque composers.”
Format and Appearance. We appreciate all resumes, regardless of the font type treatment, spacing, etc. Below are just some general tips to keep in mind. Your final goal should be a resume that is one page long and easy to read.
- Position locations flush right
- Position employment period(s) flush right, underneath the locations
- Use reverse chronological order within each section, listing most recent position(s) and/or activities first
- Organize information into easily digestible bullet points
- Keep your bullet points to one or two lines
- In the experience section, start each bullet point with an action verb in past tense (e.g. Executed, Headed, etc.)
- Use concise, focused language
- Emphasize results (quantitative or qualitative) when possible; results can give your reader a better understanding of the scope of your work and how it contributed to an organization
- Use a readable font size (10 to 12 point font)
- Include white space and margins for easy skimming
- Proof read to make sure you have no mistakes
Curious how this looks at a glance? Here is an example of a resume template that is similar to what our students use while at Tuck.