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A Complete Guide to Writing a Resume/CV for University Applications

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All You Need to Know about How to Write an ATS-Friendly Resume

Whether you are applying for a study program at a university or to secure a job that you believe could be the right next career move, you will need a well-crafted resume to unlock the opportunity. 

 

However, most applicants struggle to draft a good CV, simply because of lack of awareness of the best practices. The general practice is to borrow someone else’s resume (could be a friend, senior, colleague), and modify the details. Now, if the original resume has been wrongly made, the same mistakes will get duplicated in your resume too.

 

Which is why it is best to build your own Resume.

 

But how should you go about it? Follow this article for structured guidance on the same.

What is ATS?

The reason we are including this right at the start (even though it is mostly applicable to job applications) is because we want you to be familiar with the latest trend when it comes to evaluating CVs.

 

The full form of ATS is Application Tracking System. Recruiters use Application Tracking Systems, which are software that aid in scanning for desired keywords within the resume to filter out the right set of candidates from a wide pool of applicants for further evaluation. Thus, there is a far fewer number of applications that a hiring manager would have to manually evaluate and interview. This makes it less cumbersome and saves time when it comes to filling vacancies with the most competent candidates.

 

Now, when it comes to student CV for university applications, the scenario is not much different. Every program will attract at least 50-60 times the number of applications as the available number of seats. Given that universities offer a few hundred programs tailored to suit the needs and interests of different students, it is impossible for them to evaluate each academic CV manually. Therefore, after the first level of filtering (based on academic performance and test scores), they would also rely on the presence (or absence) of specific keywords within the resume to determine the more eligible set of applicants for further consideration.

Application Tracking Systems, however, do not only rely on the use of keywords to check for candidate suitability. There are also certain ground rules when it comes to formatting and layout that can determine the ATS-friendliness of your CV.

How Long Should the Resume be?

Before we answer this, we need to first mention a formula – typically, every 10 years of your professional life are supposed to occupy 1 page of your CV.

 

Now, it goes without saying that if you are reading this blog, you’d typically be either an undergraduate or fresh graduate out of college or a professional with <10 years of experience.

 

And therefore, for you, typically, the CV for a fresh graduate or young professional is supposed to be 1-page long.

 

In very rare cases, if you have way too many truly worthwhile experiences to talk about, over a duration of 6-7 years of industry experience, you may violate this unwritten rule to add another page to your Resume. However, remember this is supposed to be the rare exception, and not the norm.

 

Now, a one-page resume may seem to be very little space to showcase all your experiences and achievements. But that’s where the art of effective resume-building is called into action when it comes to taking decisions on:

 

    • What aspects of your profile to highlight and include
    • Which ones to ignore (If you ever face an interview, you’d want to have some things to respond to when the interviewer says – Tell me something that’s not there on your Resume)
    • How much space to give to different aspects
    • What kind of structure the Resume should have

 

What Sections Does a Resume Typically Have?

There are certain common ingredients that every Resume would have, and we list them down as follows:

Personal Details

This section includes your personal information such as your name, contact number, E-mail ID (Make sure the Email ID looks formal.), current residential address in short (Do not mention too many details such as landmarks, etc.). These are supposed to be at the top of the CV and easily readable. You may typically want to include this in the header of the word document.

Academic Background

Your educational qualifications are an important highlight of your resume, as they show the subjects on which you have received formal instruction on. While describing academic background, you should include your latest qualifications, your field of specialization, the name of your institution, and the year of passing. You need to highlight your academic background in reverse chronological order. Thus, your highest qualification should be listed first, followed by the second highest qualification.

Before we move on to the other sections, we will need to look at how you should write bullet points in your Resume.

The Secret to Writing Effective Resume Bullet Points

There are three ways in which you can frame resume bullet points (although, more or less, they contain the same elements). Knowing this will be important while listing down details of your professional experience, internships, projects, as well as extra-curricular activities. Let us look at how to write the three different styles of bullet points:

 1) 
ACTION VERB
+
WHAT?

Eg:

What did you develop/calculate/ analyze/ build?

HOW
+

Eg:

What skills/ techniques/methods/ software did you use?

RESULT 

Eg:

What results did you obtain/intend to achieve? Quantify wherever possible

The following are examples of this type of resume bullet point:

 

    • Developed a web application using Python and Django framework, increasing user engagement by 40%
    • Developed and implemented quality control processes, ensuring compliance with industry standards and achieving a defect reduction of 20%
    • Analyzing health data using SPSS to identify trends and patterns to facilitate evidence-based decision making by local health authorities
    • Developed predictive models using machine learning algorithms, achieving an accuracy rate of 85% in forecasting customer behavior
    • Conducted stakeholder consultations and facilitated public forums to gather input on policy proposals, ensuring inclusivity and transparency in the decision-making process
    • Providing individual therapy using evidence-based modalities to bring about improvement in clients’ mental health and well-being
    •  
 2) 
ACTION VERB
+
HOW
+

Eg:

What skills/ techniques/methods/ software did you use?

 

TO DO WHAT?
+

Eg:

What did you develop/calculate/ analyze/ build?

RESULT

Eg:

What results did you obtain/intend to achieve? Quantify wherever possible

The following are examples of this type of resume bullet point:

 

    • Utilized infrastructure-as-code tools such as Terraform and Ansible to automate deployment processes and provision cloud resources, thus reducing deployment time by 50%
    • Used advanced control techniques to develop efficient power converters resulting in a 10% increase in overall system efficiency
    • Used Finite Element Analysis (FEA) tools to conduct stress analysis and simulation for optimizing component strength and durability, resulting in a 25% increase in product lifespan
    • Conducting prototype testing and iterative design improvements to maintain compliance with safety standards and emission regulations
    • Led the research and implementation of sustainable design strategies for reducing energy consumption by 25%, achieving LEED certification for three projects
    • Leveraged platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, to execute cross-channel social media campaigns, increasing brand awareness and reach by 40% within three months
    •  
 3) 
ACTION VERB
+
RESULT
+

Eg:

What results did you achieve? Quantify wherever possible

WHAT?
+

Eg:

What results did you achieve? Quantify wherever possible

 

HOW

Eg:

What skills/ techniques/methods/ software did you use?

In this type of bullet point, the ‘How’ and ‘What’ parts can often switch their respective positions, and at times, we may have only the ‘How’ or the ‘What’ parts.

 

The following are examples of this type of resume bullet point:

    • Reduced overall inventory costs by 15% by implementing a demand forecasting model based on historical data analysis and collaboration with suppliers
    • Facilitated seamless data exchange and improved overall system connectivity by 25% by developing and integration communication protocols for IoT devices
    • Delivered a 10% increase in online sales by developing and executing A/B strategies to optimize website conversion rates
    • Achieved 20% reduction in financial risk and substantially enhanced financial stability by developing and executing risk management strategies
    • Contributed towards the successful launch of three processed food products by acting on consumer feedback obtained through sensory evaluation tests for assessing product quality and acceptance
    • Enabled greater customer retention by 15% through conducting predictive modelling on historical transactions data to drive targeted marketing campaigns
    •  

 

If you look at the above examples, you will realize that certain points are written in past tense whereas some in present continuous tense. Here is how you can decide what tense to use while writing bullet points:

 

    • If you are describing tasks and responsibilities that are already completed (whether in previous or current roles) or achievements, you must use past tense to write the respective bullet points.
    • If you are describing ongoing or current responsibilities (most likely in your most recent position or endeavour), you must use present continuous tense.
    •  

Now that we have seen the different ways in which you can write bullet points, let us look at what all sections and CV format you need to have on your resume where you will have to frame bullet points in accordance with the above rules:

Work Experience

If you have relevant work experience (both, full-time professional experience as well as internships), then this section is one of the most crucial ones in a CV. You should necessarily mention the employer/company’s name, your designation, your duration of work, and most importantly your roles and responsibilities. Your work, accomplishments, and responsibilities are to be mentioned in bullet points, with each point not exceeding 3 lines. 

Co-curricular activities

This section, which can be given the heading of ‘Projects and Publications’ includes all the workshops, seminars, activities, project work, and publications you might have undertaken apart from your classroom education, in relation to your subject of interest.   

Extra Curricular Activities

This section is important as it shows you as a holistic person, being active in and pursuing activities outside the realms of classroom education and the professional world as well. It includes all the activities you were a part of, be it involvement in sports, participation in competitions, enrolment in any skill development courses, etc. You may also mention if you have volunteered for any community services such as Women Empowerment, Blood donation drives, food distribution drives, cleanliness drives, being a member of NGOs, etc.

Aside of this, you can have the following additional sections on your resume depending on whatever is applicable to your individual case:

Skills

This is an important section for those who may not have too many things to showcase (such as fresh graduates out of college). This section lists down the skills that you possess.

It is crucial to include the right skills and keywords, especially with the increasing prevalence of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). We recommend only mentioning hard skills on your resume (such as what we have mentioned in the above-mentioned example). The reason we mention this is because such hard skills are objective and easily verifiable, and also, specific to different fields. For example, if you are applying for a program in Computer Science, or a job related to software development, it makes sense to include skills pertaining to programming, web development, and cloud computing. Similarly, if you are applying for a job or study program in business analytics, it makes sense to include knowledge of software such as Hadoop or RapidMiner. However, we do not recommend listing soft-skills such as leadership, teamwork, and communication. Not only are they harder to quantify and prove, most of them are transferable, meaning they are not specific to a field.

Recognition/ Awards and Certificates

This section showcases your achievements in the form of awards and certificates you received. You may mention any awards and accolades you won in any competition, the certificates you received as appreciation, or your participation in any workshops or seminars, etc.

Hobbies and Interests

Again, this section is also not mandatory to be mentioned in an academic CV. It is just a section to highlight your hobbies and interests, which do not necessarily have to align with your area of study. This can include, reading, writing, music, dance, painting, traveling, etc. Ideally, if you have more than 24 months of industry experience, you should not have this section on your resume.

 

Things to Remember While Writing a Resume

Apart from the above things, you should also remember some additional points that will ensure that your resume can stand out from the competition:

 

    • Use easily legible fonts such as Calibri, Times New Roman, Arial, etc. which are popularly used.
    • Maintain uniform font size across the body of your CV. Ideally, use a font size of 11 or 12, and a line spacing of 1.0
    • Make sure that you put down your experiences and achievements in every section in reverse chronological order.
    • Bullet points should not exceed more than 2 lines (a third line for a bullet point may not be a problem, but only as a rare exception).
    • Do not add a full-stop at the end of bullet points.
    • Bullet points should begin with action verbs, and should not be complete sentences. Do not add a full-stop to combine two ideas in the same bullet point.
    • Write all bullet points in an active
    • Do not use any personal pronouns (such as I, me, my, their, etc.). Not only do they take up added space, their inclusion is also against best practices.
    • Avoid the use of filler words (such as ‘various’, ‘multiple’, etc.) as far as possible, and preferably, quantify and be specific with what you wish to state (For e.g., instead of saying ‘Increased productivity tremendously’, say ‘Increased productivity by 15%’)
    • Once you finalize the document after proof-reading it, save it as a PDF.
    •  

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Why Choose us to Help you with your Resume?

One regular feedback that we often get from our alumni is this – that after they graduate from the programs that we help them in securing admits to, they use the same Resume that we guided them with for their job applications (of course, with the relevant updates). And, it doesn’t surprise us to see them get into some of the dream companies that most professionals would want to work for.

 

What this tells us, and should tell you, is that there’s something that we do right when it comes to helping students in building their Resumes.

 

Here’s the thing – most students and/or professionals tend to build their Resume only once, and then choose to edit it (unless their initial attempts go wrong.) With us, you need to make that one-time investment to get time-tested guidance to building a winning Resume for you.

 

We have a wide range of Resume templates that you can choose from (we will, of course, guide you to select the one that best suits your profile). Once you select the template, our expert counsellors will work with you to put down your content into that template in the best possible manner.

 

But that’s not all – during the Resume drafting process, if we encounter any weaknesses in your profile, we would also recommend measures for you to undertake so as to cover up for the weaknesses.

 

Creating the final draft will take a few iterations between you and the counsellor, followed by a quality review by a third person, before you will receive what is surely going to be your ticket to your dream university program.

Apart from these, we also provide you with guidance to choose the course, country, and university most suitable to you, one-to-one expert counselling, application processes, financial planning, acquiring student loans, test preparations, visa applications, expert guidance on filling out the Visa form, along with verifying the documents to be submitted at the embassy, accommodations, forex services, pre-departure services, and much more.

FAQs

A resume should ideally be 1 page only. However, in some cases, it can be extended to a maximum of 2 pages.

Yes, achievements should be included in a resume as they add value to your profile.

Spelling errors, grammatical errors, redundancy, irrelevant, or unrelated information, unsystematic arrangement of content, etc. are some of the most common mistakes one should avoid while writing a resume.

A resume should either be saved in a PDF or Word Document format. PDF format is preferred.

No, the Resume structure changes depending on your background, the program or job role you are applying for. The structure may even depend on the country where you are applying.

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Copyright © 2002 – 2024 | All Rights Reserved | Collegepond Counsellors Pvt. Ltd.

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Address: Office No. 204, 2nd Floor, ML Spaces, Dashrathlal Joshi Rd. Opp. Old Jain Mandir, Vile Parle West, Mumbai – 400056.

 

Email: info@collegepond.com

 

Call Us:  022-46003655

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Copyright © 2002 – 2024 | All Rights Reserved | Collegepond Counsellors Pvt. Ltd.

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