The Five-Point Resume Check

Think you’re ready to send off your CV? Take a second and scan the five-point resume check:

1. Is the formatting consistent?

You can choose out of hundreds of different acceptable styles for your resume, but the formatting needs to stay the same throughout the document. If you bold job titles and italicize company names, do it throughout. If one date reads 09/15/2016, the other should not read to Sept. or Sep. or September.

2. Does it fill up the page?

A resume should be one or two pages, depending on how much experience you have. It should not be 1.5 pages or half a page or one page with a second blank page that will inevitably spit out the printer should the recruiter decide to press print.

3. Is anything misspelled?

Microsoft Word offers a spell check, so there is no excuse for blatantly misspelled words in a resume. Of course, there are always inconsistencies that even spell check can’t grasp (especially since resumes have a tendency to use abbreviations and the like). So, ask an attentive friend to read through your work.

4. Do your bullet points use verbs?

Bullet points that describe your duties at a past job should use active, past-tense verbs. For example: generated seed money, wrote a successful grant proposal. Trying to make grammatically correct sentences will only make your document seem too long. And, for heaven’s sake, don’t use “I.”

5. Is it easy to read?

If everything else seems okay, ask a friend to quickly scan your resume. What pops out? What grabs the eye? How long does it take them to spot your education? Your most relevant work experience?

Learn about how I can give your personalized help with your resume!


Read more of my blogs about College Admissions topics.
The US College Personal Statement
Five Ways to De-Stress before a College Interview
Sciences Po: 4 Tips for Writing Your Motivation Letter
The Argument for the Gap Year 


9 thoughts on “The Five-Point Resume Check”

  1. Hi

    First, Thanks a lot for the info your providing through blog about PSIA. I am about to submit my application for 2017 fall admission for International Security course, before i would just like to know what are my chances of getting into course. I have bachelors degree in Aerospace engineering and an masters degree in Space and Telecommunication Laws, both degree`s are done from top Indian Universities. Will there be any advantage with interdisciplinary background for admission.

    1. Hi Suryakiran,
      Sciences Po looks for a wide variety of diverse students. A student with your credentials would certainly make for an interesting candidate – you’ll just need to make sure to explain why are you turning to international security studies now. Depending on your personal statement, your interdisciplinary background could either hurt you or help you.
      Beyond that, you’ll need to have good grades/scores, a solid resume and, given your comment above, an English proof-reader for everything.

  2. Hi Maija, thanks for your very helpful blog. I am applying to the Masters in Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs at Sciences Po and I have a quick question—since I list my current job and past internships on the “professional experience” page of the online application, do I need to also include that info on my CV? Or should my CV focus on my student activities from college?

    1. Hi Pete,
      You will still want to list your past and current jobs/internships on your CV– assuming they are relevant professional experiences. If your only work experience was washing dishes at a restaurant (but you were an active member of dozens of very relevant college student clubs), then you might leave your work experience off of your CV and just focus on clubs.

      Creating a CV is an exercise in identifying experiences and skills that are relevant to your field, highlighting your achievements, and making smart decisions when it comes to editing for content and style. (That does NOT mean they are looking for fancy graphics and flashy fonts, but it’s reasonable to think they would like to see some basic knowledge of Microsoft Word. Your CV should be readable.) In short, don’t worry about whether or not you are repeating yourself on two sections of your application, but do make an effort to have your CV include only pertinent information that helps give a snapshot of who you are academically.

  3. Hi Maija,

    I been reading your blog constantly after deciding to apply to Sciences Po. As I’ve put the finishing touches on my resume, I had one question— should I include that I was a member of a sports team during college? I was reading your comments about your resume showing off you academically, but I was thinking that putting that I played a sport during my college years would showcase that I was involved in student life. Your thoughts?

    1. Hi Camila,
      If there is room to include that in your resume, then why not? Your sports membership is a GREAT thing — it shows that you are active in student life and also that you know how to work with a team. Keep in mind that I generally suggest applicants keep their resumes to just one page, so as long as you can finagle your sports information into a one-page format, you should definitely include it.

  4. Hi Maija!

    Really good job! Your blog is truly helpful!
    I would like to ask something similar to Pete’s comment. Except for the internships and volunteering I have done, my previous actual jobs were mostly in the tourims sector. I do believe and I also mention that on the motivation letter, that from everything one can gain different skills that help even in the academic fields. Therefore, should I mention my job experience or just leave it out? I am just afraid that if it has only education, volunteering, skills and activities it will look empty and that since I have worked a lot and hard in my life so far I should include it. Is my way of thinking right regarding SciencesPo admissions?

    Thanks so much in advance!

    1. Hi Agapi,

      I am glad you find the blog helpful. Your thinking is spot-on.

      Work in the tourism sector is a great life experience! It likely shows your ability and desire to work with people from different backgrounds and countries, which is something Sciences Po definitely cares about. If you can tie this into developing a desire to learn about international affairs or a desire to attend a university with an international student body, then I would definitely include it.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *