How to write a resume

A good resume is important because it is how your introduction to a company.

Writing a Resume

A resume in the business world is synonymous with the CV in the medical field but these documents are very different. A CV is supposed to be a comprehensive collection of your work and sometimes requires dozens of pages. A resume is supposed to be a very brief summary of the highlights of your career and should only rarely be longer than a single page.

Many studies have attempted to identify the perfect recipe for a resume, and the challenging aspect is that there is no single answer. A resume typically is viewed for about 10 seconds before a recruiter either moves on or decides to more seriously consider an applicant. Because of how insanely small that time frame is, it is vital to make your resume as perfect as possible.

Goals of a Resume

A resume is a one page advertisement for yourself on why you are an interesting and qualified applicant to work for the company. You want to be accurate and honest, but you also want to advocate for yourself. Additionally, you want your resume to be extremely easy to read and well-written because readers often will dedicate very little time and energy to each individual resume. With that in mind, here are some rules to follow to make your resume stand out. 

Rules to Follow

  • Keep your resume to one single page
  • Use the same font and style for the entire resume
  • Use reverse chronological order with your most recent experiences first
  • Use your limited space effectively, you don't need to explain everything you have ever done
  • Results, results, results: your main goal should be to show the impact you have had, try to avoid just describing responsibilities and tasks
  • Being able to use data to describe results is ideal, try to quantify everything you possibly can
  • Use action oriented and strong verbs
  • Use the STAR method, in which you describe:
  1. Situation you were in 
  2. Task you were given
  3. Action you took
  4. Result you achieved (most important part!)

Components to Include

  1. A header with your name and contact information
  • An education section, ideally showing grades and test scores as well as any honors or distinctions you have received 
  • Typically it is best to use percentiles wherever possible, since not everyone will have STEP or MCAT scores memorized
  1. Professional experience
  • This does not have to be paid jobs, but ideally would not be medical rotations (since that is a component of medical school).
  • Good examples to include would be internships or extra-curricular research groups. Something that showed initiative
  1. Leadership Positions (optional)
  • This section is perfect for students without much professional experience to put on a resume. The ideal line here would show examples of leading teams or managing people.
  1. Skills and interests
  • This section rounds out the resume and lets you cover any points that don't fit neatly into one of the other above categories. It lets you share something that might be impressive or interesting about yourself. Be sure to only include things that you are passionate about or can speak to thoroughly. If you write that you are conversational in Spanish then it is possible that an interviewer will conduct the interview in Spanish (true story!)