Whether you’ve written a personal resumé before or are completely new to the process, there’s no better time than high school to hone your skills – especially before heading off to college.
While it’s true that most people think of a resumé as a part of a job application, it’s just as important to create one that you’ll send to college admissions officers for many reasons, including the following:
- The activities and achievements you list on your resumé can make it easier to apply for scholarships.
- It’s a quick, effective way to tell an admissions officer all about yourself and highlight your accomplishments and experience.
- A strong resumé can help you apply for internships, jobs, or even opportunities to study abroad.
Let’s now take a look at some resumé basics and do’s and don’ts for creating the best resumé to represent you:
Always include contact information
Never send a resumé without your personal contact information. Include your name, email, and phone number, and perhaps your home address. Make this information clear and easy to read, enabling those reviewing your resumé to contact you quickly.
Showcase your strengths
It’s always important to list your achievements along with anything that makes you unique and interesting, in other words, something that may help you stand out in a crowd (of resumés). Consider what makes you unique in terms of skills, awards, educational background, etc.
Your educational information should include the name and location of your high school along with your GPA (but only if it’s above 3.0 – keep in mind, no rounding!). You may also include your class rank if you know it, and if it’s worthy of inclusion.
List your in-school and co-curricular activities – whether you’ve participated in your church’s youth group, played on athletic teams, or were a member of your school’s band, these activities can show your involvement and interests. It’s particularly important to highlight any of your leadership roles.
Whether you were a member of the state championship football team or part of a choir that ranked among the best in the region, be sure to list that information. And of course, list any academic awards, rankings, and achievements.
Resumé Do’s and Don’ts
It goes without saying that you want to make sure that you create the best resumé possible – one that will grab the attention of an admissions officer (or potential employer) who likely is sifting through dozens of resumés a day. Here are some tips to help you during the resumé-writing process:
- In a world that abounds with online resumé templates, strong writing still matters. That said, make sure every word on your resumé counts. Keep your content lean and mean while still providing the most important information engagingly.
- Break up paragraphs with bullet points and keep paragraphs short.
- Begin each paragraph with a strong action verb that articulates your accomplishments or experience.
- Format your resumé to make it easily readable. Remember, most employers and admissions officers have just a brief time to look at a resumé during the first read-through (20 to 30 seconds in most cases), so you have to make an immediate impact. Leave 1-inch margins and plenty of white space while designing your resumé for easy skimming. And of course, don’t overload your document with a variety of fonts; in most cases one or two fonts will do.
- Always proofread! Read over your newly-created resumé before you send it out and remember it’s always a good idea to have at least one or two other people read it, too.
- Use a resumé example to guide you, but tailor your resumé to your experiences, achievements, etc. Moreover, write it in your words to give it a personal touch.
Begin your successful path toward a professional academic program! Get started with our pre-professional planning guide: