GSAS Student Common Resume Questions Answered!  
Can I tailor my resume to a specific job?

Yes! Studies show that recruiters look at resumes for an average of  7 seconds. Make sure to stick to the highlights and organize your information so that the recruiter’s eye is drawn to the important keywords first (always put skills at the top!)  Make sure to use keywords directly from the job description to ensure that you are including skills that the employer is looking for. Resumes should be tailored for different applications based on the job description.

Does my resume have to be chronological?

No, you do not have to list experiences chronologically. The experiences on your resume should focus on the skills that are the most relevant to the position you are applying for. Instead, you should focus on organizing by skills/experiences. So for example, a project you worked on two years ago might be more relevant to a job rather than the current research you are doing.  You would still include your research experience but would want to highlight this specific project higher up on your resume. 

What sections should be included on a resume?

Since students come to grad school with different backgrounds, there is not a’ one size fits all’ approach.  Here are some sections we usually see on resumes:

In what order should I put the sections? 

The summary should always go first but for all of the other sections, it depends on what skills are most important for the job description. Keep in mind that a resume is a marketing document. There is flexibility in section order. For example, if a position requires a PhD in XXXX then you will want to put Education towards the top, but if a previous work experience is more relevant for the role then you might want to include that experience section before your education.  They are both important but remember to think about what experiences are ultimately going to get you an interview.

Should I include a professional summary at the top? What should be included in that?

Yes, including a professional summary at the top of your resume really shows the employer who you are upon first glance at your resume.  This short summary (just a few bullet points) should include keywords from the job description showing skills that make you a good match for a position, experiences that are relevant and what kind of opportunity you are looking for. 

Should I include more than one column to fit everything on one page?

No, ATS (Applicant Tracking System) is a web based system that allows organizations to parse out resume content into categories and scans it for keywords to determine if the job application should be passed along to the recruiter/HR.  In order to allow for the ATS systems to easily read your resume, do NOT use multiple columns. Divide your resume into clear sections with plain text (no tables) and use common headers for each one.  

I don’t have work experience outside of academia.  What other experiences can I include on my resume to help my candidacy?

Think collectively about ALL experiences you’ve had where you’ve learned skills that you will use in a job.  These experiences can include leadership experiences (undergrad and/or grad), volunteer work,  school project work, teaching/mentoring experience, graduate research projects, part-time or contract side gigs, coding projects, etc. The important part is that only the experiences that are relevant should be included. 

Who can I contact to review my resume?

Our team is here to help you create and refine your resume!  Contact us at for an appointment.