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07 May

6 Tips for Writing a Stellar Graduate School Resume

Count to eight.

That’s about how much time you have to make a favorable impression with your resume. A recent study found recruiters spend just 7.4 seconds scanning your information on an initial pass.1

It can be daunting trying to pack your academic background, professional accomplishments, technical skills, and a bit of your personality into a one-page resume, but it is possible. Whether you’re writing a resume for graduate school admission, or to land your dream job, follow these tips to create a document that stands out from the pack—in a good way.

Resume Tips

Consider your audience.

A one-size-fits-all resume simply won’t cut it. To show that you are truly interested in a particular job or academic program, tailor your resume accordingly. For instance, when applying to a graduate program like the Online Master of Legal Studies (MLS) in Corporate Compliance from Santa Clara University School of Law, consider placing your educational background toward the top of the document. Don’t be bashful about including a stellar GPA, awards, the title of your thesis, and any other skills or achievements on your graduate school resume to help your overall application.

Keep it simple.

Your graduate school resume should extol your accomplishments in a well-organized, easy-to-read format. Luckily, you don’t have to be a graphic designer to create a sleek, digestible resume. While it’s a good idea to perform some online research to find examples of resumes that you like, know that every applicant has different needs. Don’t shoehorn your own experience and accomplishments into a template simply because you like the way it looks.

When you’re ready to write or rewrite your resume, choose a professional font, incorporate white space where you can, and ensure it looks as good on a screen as it does printed out.2

Aim for a one-page resume.

You’re not alone if you’ve ever Googled “how long should a resume be.” Two pages may be acceptable if you possess 10 or more years of work experience, but a one-page resume is ideal if you want to make a good impression fast. When writing a resume for graduate school, keep in mind that it’s just one part of the overall application and doesn’t need to include everything about you. You also can make a great impression with your personal essays and letters of recommendation.

Keep the language concise but impactful.

Less is more when it comes to resume word count, but that means each word matters. Use action-oriented verbs, remove flowery adjectives, and quantify your achievements whenever possible.3 For instance, recruiters and admissions advisors want to know not just that you improved efficiencies but by how many percentage points and how it affected the company’s bottom line. Be specific.

Don’t be afraid to get a little personal.

Think about the time you spend outside of work or school. If any of these activities highlight your character, your ambition, or your willingness to go above and beyond for a worthy cause, showcase them on your graduate school resume. You never know when you might develop a connection with your reader or recruiter over a shared interest.

That said, don’t get too personal. It might seem obvious, but make sure to avoid religion, politics, and “protected class” information (i.e. gender, age, race, sexual identity).4

Ask someone to proofread.

This one is non-negotiable. As a psychologist told Wired, “When we're proofreading our own work, we know the meaning we want to convey…The reason we don't see our own typos is because what we see on the screen is competing with the version that exists in our heads.”5

A single “from” instead of “form” can send your resume into the trash. To avoid any unfortunate missteps, find your most detail-oriented friend or colleague, and politely ask them to proofread your resume for typos, awkward wording, and inconsistencies. Make sure to give this person ample time to review.

A professional, organized resume is one important part of the admissions requirements for the Online MLS in Corporate Compliance from Santa Clara Law. Check out our tips for polishing your personal essays and letters of recommendation before you submit your application.

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