How to Write a Resume That Stands Out

You finally found it! The perfect job for you. Now, all you have to do to get the process started is to submit your resume. The problem is that hundreds of your peers are probably thinking exactly the same thing. How do you stand out?

You finally found it! The perfect job for you. Now, all you have to do to get the process started is to submit your resume. The problem is that hundreds or even thousands of your peers are probably thinking exactly the same thing about exactly the same job. So how do you create a one-page document that will make you and your accomplishments stand out from the crowd?

Your resume is a key part of the job application process: it is the first document that an employer reviews to determine whether they will interview and eventually employ you. Remember that employers often have very limited time to perform this duty. Crafting a strong resume really matters!

Resumes communicate who you are and what you have accomplished. They may be the only document an employer sees to evaluate your record before making a decision to move forward with your application, or they may be used in conjunction with resources like LinkedIn or professional networking profiles and/or a cover letter. A resume that “stands out” in a positive way is one that has been written thoughtfully, clearly and concisely, effectively communicating your abilities and strengths in a very brief space.

Six basic tips will help you build an outstanding professional resume. Note that resumes may vary by professional field (e.g. engineering vs. non-engineering), by location or by other factors such as professional degree. These tips are designed around some of the most common sections and most useful points for resumes across different types.

Tip 1: How to Write an Education Section that Stands Out

The education section demonstrates that you have the academic qualifications for the position. The key questions you should ask yourself while writing this section is, “Have I clearly communicated the strongest and most relevant aspects of my educational experience?” The next question is, “Is this section organized in a way that is easily readable by the employer?”

The education section is important for all applicants but may be weighted differently depending on how long it has been since you graduated from a degree program. For instance, an employer may have a different level of interest in the educational history of a college senior, compared to someone who has been professionally working for several years after college. Understanding this fact may influence where you choose to place this section on your resume.

In general, you should include all of the higher education that you may have had, including undergraduate, graduate, or professional schooling.  You may also consider including online courses, certificates, and completed programs through companies like Coursera. Most people list their experiences in an order called reverse chronological, meaning that they list the most recent experience first, and work backwards down the page.

For each listed school, provide the full name of the school or online program, the years of your attendance, your major or majors, if applicable, as well as a minor if applicable. Include the type of degree received (e.g. a Bachelor of Arts or Master of Science) and the year of graduation. If you are graduating soon, include the month and year of graduation so employers know when you will be available to work. If you have studied abroad, include the institution, program of study, and any relevant coursework.

You may want to include which semesters you qualified for special academic recognition, if any.  Other special awards, scholarships, or competitive grants can also be listed in this section. If you have non-academic awards, such as for sports or community service, you may choose to create a separate section of your resume for honors and awards.

Tip 2: How to Make the Experience Section Stand Out

Along with education, your experience is one of the most important ways to show that you are qualified for a position. Use this section to clearly convey your strongest professional experiences, whether paid or unpaid. Be sure to give detailed aspects of your roles and responsibilities for each listed position. Emphasize any relationships or similarities between your past experiences and the job you want. You should also include the start and end dates of your involvement with each organization, and any key accomplishments from the role. Don’t forget to include where the company is located, including city and state/province, or even country if different from your home country.

Ask yourself: while involved with the company, did I win any awards, get any special recognition, make new discoveries, start a new program? If so, what happened and what were the results? Quantify your experiences when you can! As the expression goes, “Show don’t tell.” In other words, you can more effectively convey a point by giving concrete examples, rather than through vague descriptions. Consider the following examples.

Instead of:

Improved worker productivity significantly, leading to recognition from upper management.

(A resume reader may ask: What does ‘improved’ mean? What does recognition mean? How much have you improved it by?)

Improved quarter returns by 25%, exceeding projections and leading to the Top Manager Award, given to only one manager in the company per year.

When it comes to language, be honest about your job functions while thinking of professional ways to present your experiences.

Sometimes people fall into a trap of thinking that their job or internship experience won’t sound impressive enough to list. The job may have felt like “sitting at a desk, answering the phone.” True, but you may have been performing other responsibilities or developing useful job-related skills without realizing that you were!

When you were at a desk, were you at the FRONT desk? Were you the only person or the main person in this position? Were you overseeing anything while you were sitting there? Were you the sole person responsible for any tasks? Did you have to learn how to deal calmly and confidently with any customer issues? Did people occasionally ask you to take on additional responsibilities, even for a short time?

It is fair to say that a person sitting at a front desk, may have been MANAGING the front desk, or even managing the desk when the person’s boss was away. Time during which an individual is placed in charge of a business or an office, even if for a limited time, can convey responsibility to a prospective employer.

Look at your accomplishment bullet and ask yourself:

  • What did I do in the job?
  • Using what?
  • To what extent or impact?

Sometimes you may need to pare down your list in order to avoid making your resume too lengthy. Try to select the accomplishments based partly on how impressive they are and partly on how well they relate to the position you want. To describe your experience, always use more than one sentence or bullet. That said, word economy in your bulleted descriptions is also important. Try to keep each bulleted description or sentence to one or two lines at most. You can often rephrase a description, eliminating words while keeping the meaning. The more information you can present clearly and concisely within the short resume format, the more the employer will understand what you can do for them.

Remember that by providing relevant details in each statement of your experience, you will give the employer enough information to evaluate you and also provide them with ideas of what they might want to discuss with you in an interview.

Tip 3: How to Create a Leadership and Activities Section that Stands Out

For many people, especially students and recent graduates, a Leadership & Activities section can be a fantastic differentiator for your resume. If you have not been in the workforce for long, or if you have only worked summers and part-time, then you may not have much relevant content to add to your Experience section. A strong Leadership & Activities section can help you fill that gap while also telling an employer something about you as a person.

When creating the section, you should first consider what student organizations and activities you would want to include. Then, you should consider what you would want to write about each one. In general, this section is much like the Experience section, except that it is about what you have done in a personal, rather than professional, setting.

Of course, because student organizations and activities are personal, you should be careful about which ones you choose to list; they should be appropriate to a professional setting. For example, you should probably not choose to share that you were chosen “Top Drinker” of your college’s “Beer Keg of the Day” club. On the other hand, if you volunteered at a food bank, wrote for a school publication, or had a membership in an honor society, those accomplishments would be worth sharing.

Most importantly, you should include student organizations and activities where you have made significant contributions or held leadership positions. Just as you did in the Experience section, you should think about what you did in the organization, any responsibilities you had, any skills you used, and any knowledge you gained. If you made improvements to the student organization or activity, definitely include concrete examples. Make sure to consider if any of your experiences with student organizations and activities could be related to the position you are applying for. Could any of the skills you have learned be useful in the job?

Because student organizations and activities can offer students leadership opportunities and experiences that are often limited to experienced professionals in companies, this section is your chance to show not only that you are qualified for the position but that you have even greater potential. Make the most of this opportunity to show the employer what you can do!

Tip 4: How to Highlight Your Skills

Another important component of what defines an attractive candidate in the modern economy is their skill set. Because employers want people who can quickly start being productive, they care about what skills a job prospect has, particularly in certain technical fields. In most cases, skills are incorporated into the Experience section, if you acquired skills as part of your internship or job, and in the Education section, if you obtained the skills through coursework, research, or projects. Sometimes people with additional skills, such as technical skills, foreign language, or certifications obtained outside of university, will place them into a separate section at the end of the resume. Whichever format you choose, you still need to emphasize the skills you have, so that an employer can easily see how you can help them.

You should ask yourself a few important questions. What skills do I have? What skills are my target employers looking for? Are my skills hard skills (i.e. technical, like computer programming) or soft skills, such as the ability to listen?

Make a list! Separate the skills into hard skills and soft skills. What skills are most in demand (on both lists) for the position you are interested in (One good way to decide this is to look at job listings for many similar positions and note how often a particular skill is listed.)? How can you highlight your proficiency in these skills?

Lead with your strongest skills and/or the ones that seem the most marketable. Let’s say you know the programming language Python. How well do you know it? How many years have you used it? Do you have any specialized knowledge and ability that may set you apart from a competing applicant? Do you have demonstrations of your work anywhere for a prospective employer to see?

Here’s an example of a skills entry that might be included into the Experience section:

Programming: 8 years of experience with Python and similar scripting languages, wrote MyFirstPythonProject software available on GitHub

Useful tip: Artists may have portfolios for their artistic work. Examples of appropriate work, such as for coding, may not be a bad idea to have available in addition to a resume!

Even if your field is not technical, you may still have important hard skills. Do you have experience with popular office software, such as Excel, PowerPoint, or Access? Do you know any foreign languages, even at a basic level? Think about not only what might be required in the day-to-day performance of the job, but what other skills could potentially be useful to the employer.

You will want to include all the relevant skills to demonstrate your qualifications, without including too much less-relevant information which could distract from your message. Think carefully about which skills you want to include, and which could be left out. Remember to choose your words economically to maximize content in a minimum of space. With a little effort, your skills details can transform your resume from a simple list of accomplishments to a document that gets an employer thinking about all the great ways you could contribute!

Tip 5: Formatting and Making the Resume Look Professional

Believe it or not, the appearance and organization of a resume can greatly affect the response. The first hurdle for any resume is to get the employer to read it. An attractively presented, concise resume is easy for a recruiter to pick up. On the other hand, if a resume is 5 pages, written in 6-point font, a prospective employer may not think that it is worth the time to find a magnifying glass and read it. In most cases, a resume should not exceed one page (sometimes two pages, mostly for more experienced candidates, or in scientific and technical fields where publication lists can be lengthy), which has a few key sections that are separated from one another or clearly delineated.

Here are some suggestions to make the format stand out positively:

  • Use 10-12-point font or larger. (10 point may even sometimes be too small, and the choice can depend on the chosen font.) Your audience should easily be able to read the size of the writing. Often prospective employers may not have perfect vision, so readability may create problems if the text is too small.
  • Use a clean, professional-looking font. Don’t use fonts that are overly artistic and hinder the ability for the reader to understand them. Some find fonts like Times New Roman most clearly readable; others find competing fonts better. The font is just an aspect of the writing; don’t let it overpower the words themselves.
  • Use respectable margins. Don’t try to deviate too much from 0.5 margins at either side. Also, don’t make the margins too large, beyond 0.75 or 1 unit on either side. Around 1 unit on the top and bottom should be acceptable.
  • Use adequate spacing.
  • Abbreviate months of employment.
  • Include proper contact information. Most people include full name, address, email address and at least one phone number at the top of the document.

Tip 6: Revision and Review 

One of the most important steps to writing a good resume is having others you trust look it over. A small spelling or grammar error on a resume could cause problems by making it seem like you lack attention to detail.

You can start with standard spelling and grammar checking programs. However, while these programs are very helpful, they are not enough by themselves. For example, the programs may not flag errors with homophones (e.g. hair and hare). They also have difficulty with uncommon, technical, or foreign words that may not be in their dictionaries. In addition, they are not looking for formatting inconsistencies or at the overall appearance of the resume. While computer programs can help with many issues, there is still no substitute for the human eye.

Start by printing a copy of your resume and looking for errors and inconsistencies yourself. Then, present copies to others along with a description of the job or educational opportunity that you are applying for. When presenting your resume to others, consider at least two kinds of people: a peer, and an experienced professional or teacher. Each may identify different issues with the resume.

Ask the reviewers to provide two types of notes: technical revisions and feedback on the writing, organization and effectiveness of the resume.

Once you get feedback, discuss it with them for a few minutes. Remember, don’t take constructive criticism personally! They are trying to help you, and their points of view may be similar to that of the employer. Your goal is to create a resume that most people will appreciate.

Once you obtain proper feedback, you can work on improving your resume. Try to incorporate your reviewers’ suggestions. Their ideas may even make you think of other ways to improve your resume! Most importantly, always remember that once you have made your revisions, review your resume again before you send it out!

The stronger your resume, the better your chance of getting an interview and landing a meaningful job. Just by following these simple tips, you will be well on your way to resume success, creating a clear, detailed, and concise document designed to impress employers. So, get writing and get yourself noticed!

A good resume can help you land an interview, but even minor errors can take you out of the running.  Schedule an appointment with a counselor  to ensure it will be effective.

Quick Resume Tips:

  • Use the position description to decide what to include.
  • Pick a standard and consistent format.
  • Describe your experiences with specificity and strong action verbs.
  • Record accomplishments and contributions, not just responsibilities.
  • Revise carefully!
  • Don’t include personal information about your age, religion, health or marital status.
  • Photos are generally not preferred for U.S. resumes.
  • Typically, you will not be expected to share past salary information on a resume.
  • Employers assume that “references will be available upon request,” so you don’t need to include them on your resume unless asked.
  • Employers may use keyword scanning on resumes, so know what words are relevant to the industry and position and ensure they appear in your resume.


  • The Magazine
  • Newsletters
  • Managing Yourself
  • Managing Teams
  • Work-life Balance
  • The Big Idea
  • Data & Visuals
  • Reading Lists
  • Case Selections
  • HBR Learning
  • Topic Feeds
  • Account Settings
  • Email Preferences

How to Write a Résumé That Stands Out

resume writing harvard

Share accomplishments, not responsibilities.

It can be hard to know how to make your resume stand out. Start by accepting that it’s going to take some time and effort. Don’t try to sit down and knock it out in an hour – you’re carefully crafting a marketing document. Open strong with a summary of your expertise. Use an accomplishments section after the opener to link your experience to the job requirements. You don’t want to waste space upfront on irrelevant job experience. It’s okay to be selective about what employment, achievements, and skills you include; after all, you should tailor your resume for each position. Give concrete examples of your expertise, quantifying your accomplishments with numbers where you can. Seek input from a mentor or friend who can review it and give you feedback. Lastly, create a personable LinkedIn profile to complement your resume.

The resume: there are so many conflicting recommendations out there. Should you keep it to one page? Do you put a summary up top? Do you include personal interests and volunteer gigs? And how do you make it stand out, especially when you know the hiring manager is receiving  tons of applications? This may be your best chance to make a good first impression, so you’ve got to get it right.

  • Amy Gallo is a contributing editor at Harvard Business Review, cohost of the Women at Work podcast , and the author of two books: Getting Along: How to Work with Anyone (Even Difficult People) and the HBR Guide to Dealing with Conflict . She writes and speaks about workplace dynamics. Watch her TEDx talk on conflict and follow her on LinkedIn . amyegallo

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Create Your Perfect Harvard Resume (Guide + Examples)

Nilda Melissa Diaz, CPRW

Our customers have been hired at: * Foot Note

With an acceptance rate of 3.4 percent, Harvard University stays at the top of academia worldwide. Showcasing your education and experiences during your time at the historic institution will help you stand out from the pool of applicants in any industry. In this guide, we will discuss how to create a Harvard  resume that effectively showcases the value of your academic career and experience, making you an attractive candidate for potential employers.

Understanding the Harvard resume format

A Harvard resume format is slightly different from traditional resume formats . It organizes your information according to importance and what you want to bring to the attention of a recruiter first, whether it is skills, experience or education.

Hardvard Resume Formats

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How to structure your Harvard resume

Each section of your Harvard resume plays a vital role in painting a compelling picture of who you are and what you can bring to the table. By taking the time to carefully craft each section, you can make the most out of your resume and stand out from the competition. Let’s explore how to structure your perfect Harvard resume.

Craft a powerful summary statement

A summary statement is your introduction to the employer. It should pack a strong punch as this is the first section recruiters and hiring managers read. Take an elevator pitch approach and include your strongest, job-relevant information.

Your Harvard resume’s summary statement should include the following:

  • Years of experience
  • Strongest job-relevant skills
  • Important accomplishments

For example:

Highlighting your education

Showcase your Crimson education properly in a Harvard resume by highlighting your academic achievements, including honors and GPA, in the education section.

Start with the university name. Below the name, write the degree, concentration and GPA. Keep in mind that your GPA is optional; however, it can help you stand out from other candidates.

Under your school and degree, you should also include:

  • Any honors, if applicable
  • Job-relevant coursework
  • Memberships to sports teams or clubs

HARVARD UNIVERSITY                                                                       May 2023 A.B. Honors degree in Bioengineering. GPA 3.87

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Dean’s List

STUDY ABROAD                                                                               June-July 2022 Study abroad coursework in Revolution in Biomedicine Imperial College, London

Showcase your experience at Harvard

Highlight what you’ve learned throughout your Harvard academic career, research and internships in your experience section. A Harvard resume’s experience section focuses on the order of importance, unlike traditional resume formats which focus on the chronological order. You should always prioritize what you want the recruiter to know about your experience. 

Have considerable experience in a specific field? Use it as a section title on your Harvard resume template to draw recruiters’ eyes to your extensive experience. For example, if you had a prolific career at The Crimson and have collaborated with other newsrooms and publications, create a Journalism Experience section. 

Wondering how to write work history on your Harvard resume to convey your abilities? Start by using the job description to tailor your resume. Use their keywords if they match your qualifications and include them in your list of accomplishments. 

Make a stronger work history section by using action verbs . When combined with your Harvard resume experience, action verbs will add more impact to your achievements. If you perform similar roles, choose different verbs to showcase your accomplishments. It will help differentiate each role and make it easier to read. Combine these verbs with numbers to quantify your achievements.

Don’t limit your experience section to work. You can also include special categories to showcase your extensive experience in a particular subject. For example, research experience, leadership experience, performance art experience and so on. Format this experience section on your Harvard resume template like you would your work history by including quantifiable achievements to showcase what you accomplished and the skills used.

Feature relevant skills and achievements

Your Harvard resume speaks to your abilities to perform a job and what you’ve achieved in your academic and professional careers.

The skills to put on a resume vary according to the position and employer. Always customize your Harvard resume to the job. It’s important to create a balanced list of hard skills and soft skills . To highlight a specific set of skills, separate them into sections: technical skills, languages and laboratory.

Your work experience will also include information regarding your skills and how you used them to achieve your accomplishments.

The education section of your Harvard resume can also include your academic accomplishments. Don’t limit yourself to GPA and honors; you can also include:

  • Test scores
  • Fellowships
  • Dean’s List
  • Leadership positions in organizations
  • Membership in sports teams or other organizations

Design tips for your Harvard resume template

A Harvard resume template is easy-to-read and professional. Packing your resume with unnecessary information and cluttered sections will take away from your experience, skills and accomplishments.

Your resume must include:

  • Name and contact information
  • Education with job-relevant accomplishments and projects
  • Skills or core competencies

You can also include additional optional categories like: volunteer work, cultural experiences, leadership and activities to add more depth to your knowledge and back up your skills.

Once you’ve established the order of your sections, start building your Harvard resume.

  • Sections are stacked, which helps the recruiter quickly read your resume.
  • Don’t use more than two resume fonts and keep the font size between 10-12
  • Add information to each section using bullet points or short paragraphs. Stick to one to maintain consistency.
  • In each section, add the information in reverse chronological order.

Keep a consistent format throughout your Harvard resume:

  • Choose a professional, readable and accessible resume font .
  • Select a resume template with stacked sections for an easier read.
  • Keep a consistent margin of .75 inches on all sides to maintain balanced white spaces in your Harvard resume.
  • Use your Harvard email address, even if you choose to forward your emails to a different account.
  • Build your resume in our Resume Builder , which automatically creates and modifies your content.

Whether you’re a recent graduate or have a few years of experience under your belt, start with a summary statement. Continue your Harvard resume with your education section, including your GPA, awards, accomplishments and, if applicable, capstone project. Then, include your skills and work experience and move on to the optional additional sections: certifications, leadership activities, etc.

Create a cover letter to match your Harvard resume

A cover letter is a one-page document to complete your job application’s document package. If your Harvard resume is your introduction, the cover letter is the start of your conversation. This is your opportunity to connect on a personal level with an employer. Like your Harvard resume, a cover letter needs to showcase the skills and experience relevant to the job.

When writing your cover letter:

  • Use the cover letter format , which is a traditional business letter format.
  • Do not go over a one-page letter.
  • Use narrative to expand on your skills and accomplishments.
  • End with a call to action to further the conversation.
  • Find a cover letter template to match your Harvard resume.

Unsure of how to write a cover letter ? Our cover letter examples can help you learn more about creating a document with the right information to advance your career. Our Cover Letter Builder makes it even easier with job-specific content suggestions and automatic template layout.

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Harvard resume examples

Here are three Harvard resume templates examples to showcase how your resume could look.

Need more inspiration? See more resume examples that’ll help you create your own.

7 Tips for perfecting your Harvard resume

Keep these Harvard resume tips in mind as you create your Harvard resume. Our guide can help you build a document package to highlight your strengths.

  • Always tailor your Harvard resume to the application. If you’re applying for a job, use keywords from the job description. If you’re applying for a Master’s, Ph.D. or other professional studies, include as much pertinent information as possible.
  • Choose a Harvard resume template that best serves your information. Our Resume Builder allows you to change the layout of your resume and automatically fit your information.
  • Perfect grammar is a must for a Harvard resume. Use spell-check and another pair of eyes to revise your resume.
  • Avoid “I” statements. Let your accomplishments speak for you.
  • Use Harvard action verbs and Harvard resume words to best convey your experiences.
  • Use numbers to quantify your achievements and showcase how you’ve used your skills.
  • When applicable, include optional categories to help you stand out from other candidates.

Harvard Resume FAQs

How to display harvard extension school on my resume.

Harvard Extension School is an important part of the Harvard lineage. As part of its continuing education division, it provides a flexible education experience with the same access for remote, hybrid and on-site students. 

Harvard Extension School should be displayed in your resume as follows:

Harvard University, Extension School Master School of Liberal Arts, Economics 

Can I put a Harvard online course on my resume?

Yes! Harvard encourages all its students to include their completed courses, certifications and degrees on their resume and professional profile. You can include a PDF link to the Course Verification Form as proof, if you’re so inclined.

Where to include GPA in Harvard resume?

When building a Harvard resume, your GPA, honors and test scores should always be included in the education section, under the degree. If you also have an honor designation, include the GPA next to it.

Harvard University, Extension School Bachelor of Liberal Arts, Field of Information Technology Cum Laude, GPA 3.7

How to write a Harvard resume?

Before you start writing your resume, establish why you are building your Harvard resume. Is it for a job application? Internship? Postgraduate studies? Then, you can take a better approach to building your resume.

  • For employment — focus on your job-relevant skills, experience and coursework.
  • For postgraduate studies — focus on your academic experiences and coursework.
  • Choose a Harvard resume template. Create a contact section with current information.
  • Build a summary statement to highlight your skills and experiences.
  • Create a work section using action verbs to describe your achievements.
  • Highlight your Harvard education by including your GPA and any awards.
  • Use optional additional sections, like volunteer work and internships, to stand out from other applicants.

What font size should I use in a Harvard style resume?

The Office of Career Services at Harvard recommends using font sizes 10 to 12. It also recommends keeping the same font and font size between your resume and cover letter to maintain a cohesive document package.

Whichever font size you choose, remember to keep it consistent. Your name should be the largest size, the section titles two points smaller than the name and the section content no smaller than 10 points.

Should I use a CV or a resume?

Choosing a CV vs resume will depend on your career and what the employer is requesting. A CV has unlimited length and provides a comprehensive look into your work, skills and experiences. Meanwhile, a resume is a snapshot of your career in one or two pages. 

A CV is mostly used for academic, medical, scientific and international careers and postgraduate studies. If you’re choosing to continue with higher education, confirm the school requirements for a CV or resume.

Our CV examples can help you learn more about creating your own. Once you’re ready, choose a CV template and head on to our CV Maker to build a CV.

How we reviewed this article

Since 2013, we have helped more than 15 million job seekers. We want to make your career journey accessible and manageable through our services and Career Center’s how-to guides and tips. In our commitment to bring you a transparent process, we present our Editorial Process .

  • Harvard University Resume and Cover Letters
  • Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Career Services Office
  • CNBC, An example of the perfect resume according to Harvard and career experts
  • Harvard Business Review, How to Write a Resume that Stands Out

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Nilda Melissa Diaz, CPRW

Nilda Melissa Diaz, CPRW

Career advice expert.

Nilda is a Certified Professional Resume Writer who has written for The Washington Post and Latina Style Magazine. She has a master's in Journalism from Columbia University and is a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

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*The names and logos of the companies referred to above are all trademarks of their respective holders. Unless specifically stated otherwise, such references are not intended to imply any affiliation or association with MyPerfectResume.

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Resumes: What You Need to Know

The resume is an opportunity to market yourself to a prospective employer. It should be succinct, target an employer's needs, and distinguish you from your competitors. Before you get started, think about your strengths, weaknesses, personal preferences, and motivations. You should also consider the company's needs, who your competition might be, and your unique skill set. The best way to convince employers that you will add value is to show them that you've done it before.

Alumni Resume Book

Our Alumni Resume Book connects you with organizations looking for talent. Visit 12twenty (our recruiting platform) and upload your resume to get started. You should complete your Profile in 12twenty by updating your Background tab which contains information about your career experience, skills, preferences and more. Ensuring your Background tab is complete and accurate will greatly improve your chance of being contacted by an organization. Looking to connect with fellow HBS alumni? Upload your resume to the Alumni Networking Resume Book to kick start those connections.

Resume Makeover Using VMock and Aspire

Gain instant feedback on your resume and LinkedIn Profile

VMock is a smart career platform that provides instant personalized feedback on your resume and LinkedIn Profile to help improve aspects like presentation, language, and skills.

VMock Smart Editor tool will enable you to:

  • Receive an objective score on your resume based on recruiter criteria
  • Review line-for-line targeted feedback on your resume
  • Re-upload your resume up to 10 times to track improvement

Sign up using your HBS email address. Account requests are granted within 24 business hours. During holidays and winter break (December 24th – January 1st) turnaround time will be delayed until the CPD office reopens. Please note, we recommend you review your resume before considering it final.

Resumes: Sections, Templates & Examples

  • Contact details - Let others know who you are and how to get in touch with you. In addition to your name, you should list your mailing address, phone number, and email address. It is expected to be found at the top of the page. No need to include it on additional pages.
  • Professional history - Start with your most recent role and list in descending chronology. For each role, provide a sentence or two that describes the scope of your responsibility. Then in bullet format, provide accomplishment statements. To write an accomplishment statement, state the problem you encountered, the action you took and the result or impact of your actions. For example, "Led team in implementing a new general ledger package by providing expertise and encouragement, which contributed to a successful, on-time project completion."
  • Education - Spell out your degree so it will stand out better. It is not necessary to include your GPA or GMAT score. Do not list courses. Do list any leadership roles or study abroad experiences.
  • Summary/Profile - A great opportunity to tell the reader exactly what you want them to know. It should be 3-4 sentences in paragraph form following your contact information. Be careful not to load up on overused resume jargon and avoid listing previous jobs/education as it is redundant. Instead, focus on your branding statement, unique themes in your career path, and skills.
  • Key skills - Listing your skills is a great way for the reader to quickly evaluate your skill set. List skills that are relevant to your next position. For each skill, you will need a proof statement in the form of an accomplishment stated in the professional experience section. A good way to set up this section is in 2 or 3 columns with 3-4 skills in each column. The heading could be "Key Areas of Expertise" or "Core Competencies".
  • Personal/Interests - Only include if it helps tell your story.
  • Additional roles - If you participate in organizations outside of your professional employment, you may list these in a separate section. Headings are typically "Volunteer Leadership Roles" or "Community Service".
  • Licenses and Professional Certifications - If you possess a license or certification, these should be called out in a separate section.
  • Objective - No longer in style. Do not include in your resume.
  • References available upon request - No longer in style. Do not include in your resume.
  • Zip file of all resume templates (login required)

Chronological - This is the most commonly used layout. Recommended for a mostly consistent record of employment showing progression/growth from position to position. Not recommended for gaps in employment dates, those out of job market for some time, or changing careers.

  • Template 1 (login required)
  • Template 2 (login required)
  • Template 3 (login required)
  • Template 4 (login required)
  • Sample 1: C-Level Resume (login required)
  • Sample 2: Consulting to Operating Company Resume (login required)
  • Sample 3: VP with Long Tenure Resume (login required)
  • Sample 4: C-Level Biotech resume (login required)
  • Sample 5: Exec. Ed. with Long Tenure Resume (login required)
  • Sample 6: Financial Services Resume (login required)

Streamlined Chronological - This layout also shows progression from one job to the next, but does not include extra sections such as Summary/Profile or Areas of Expertise. Recommended for recent alumni.

  • Template: Streamlined Chronological (login required)

Chronological/Functional Hybrid Resume - In this layout, you can highlight your employment history in a straight chronological manner, but also make it immediately clear you have filled a variety of roles that use different but related skill sets. This is useful to provide a few accomplishments in the beginning to show a theme. Each role would also have specific accomplishment statements.

  • Template: Chronological/Functional Hybrid (login required)
  • Sample: Accomplishment Focus Resume (login required)

Cover Letter Writing

It is essential to send a cover letter with your resume to provide a recruiter with insight into your qualifications, experience, and motivation for seeking a position. The letter also conveys your personal communication style, tone, and professionalism. An effective employment letter should:

  • Be targeted and personalized
  • State why you are interested in the company
  • Explain how you can fill a need
  • Convey your enthusiasm about the opportunity
  • Suggest next steps for communication and action

Guidelines & Examples

Investigate your target company. What is the company's "breaking news?" What drives their business? What are their greatest challenges and opportunities? How can you contribute? eBaker can help with your research.

Outline your objectives using relevant information that attracts the attention of the reader.

  • Salutation Address the letter to a specific person. Capture the reader's attention and briefly introduce yourself. Mention the referral/company contact, if applicable. State the purpose of your letter.
  • Body Describe relevant information you discovered about the company. Discuss the position offered or the position you are looking for. Detail how your skills will benefit the company.
  • Closing Convey your enthusiasm. Anticipate response.

Pay close attention to sentence structure, spelling, and punctuation. Always print your letter to check for typographical errors. Have a friend, colleague, or family member review your letter whenever possible.

Cover letters are the place to briefly and directly address the gap in your career. For example, "I am returning to the workforce after a period of raising children." Then address your strengths, qualifications and goals. Emphasize your excitement and preparedness to re-enter the workforce now.

Response to Identified Advertisement (pdf)

Branding You

Resume writing tips  , creating visual impact.

A concise, visually appealing resume will make a stronger impression than a dense, text-laden document. Respect page margins and properly space the text. Learn to appreciate the value of "white space." Limit a resume to one or two pages but not one and ¼. Ensure content is balanced on both pages. A CV is typically longer because it includes additional sections such as publications and research.

Use Parallel Construction

Select a consistent order of information, format, and spacing. If one experience starts with a brief overview followed by bullet points, subsequent experiences should follow a similar form. Parallel construction—including the use of action verbs (pdf) (login required) to start all phrases—greatly enhances a resume's readability.

Always Proofread

Pay close attention to margin alignment, spelling, punctuation, and dates. Read your resume backward to check for typographical errors. (You will focus on individual words, rather than the meaning of the text.) Better yet, have a friend, colleague, or family member review your resume.

Use Action Verbs

Action Verbs List (login required)

Improve Your Writing

Common questions, past program resources  .

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How to Build a Resume that Stands Above the Competition


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  1. Get Harvard's "Perfect" Resume

  2. Master Your Career: How to Write a Resume That Lands Interviews

  3. How Can I Boost My Resume with 10 Free Harvard Online Courses?

  4. Resume Writing Tips and Resume Sample

  5. One Tip To Help You Write A More Confident Resume

  6. A guide to writing a CV


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    When you write academically, you will research sources for facts and data, which you will likely include in your writing. Using this information will require that you cite your sources. Your instructor may require Harvard referencing format...


    Be sure to do this in a confident manner and remember that the reader will view your letter as an example of your writing skills. Closing paragraph: Reiterate

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  7. Harvard College Bullet Point Resume Template

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    examples; but do not reiterate your entire resume. Emphasize skills or abilities

  9. How to Write a Resume That Stands Out

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  13. Harvard Resume Guide: Tips, Examples and Templates

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