Creating the BEST Resume
Estimated reading time ~ 5 min
We strongly encourage everyone to tailor their resume using these guidelines prior to submission.
Your resume is your chance to highlight your skills, interests, past accomplishments and leadership experience to The Application and to our partners. Please remember that you are submitting a resume and not a curriculum vitae (CV), so your resume should be 1-2 pages, and it should be focused on your professional skills and experiences rather than on an in-depth account of your academic experiences and background. The tips below are meant to help ensure you highlight those qualities that HBCU 20x20 staff and hiring managers at partner organizations are most interested in seeing! Make sure you check out these sample rockstar resumes below, to help in developing your own.
Show, Don’t Tell: Our partners are looking for candidates that can help them solve a problem or add additional capacity at their organization. Sharing how you previously solved similar problems shows your track record of success in that field. Showing examples of specific skills and the outputs and outcomes you achieved from applying them is much more helpful than simply telling the reader what the inputs you were responsible for. Use quantitative data, when you can!
Be Specific: Even when outcomes aren’t apparent, you can show the breadth of your work by adding details. A resume is a marketing document, designed to sell your skills and accomplishments. For example, if you were responsible for managing a budget, share the amounts of funds or percentage of the organizational budget you managed to provide the reader with a greater understanding of your personal responsibility.
Show Your Leadership: Leadership comes in forms other than honors and accolades. Using verbs like “managed,” “led,” and “created” can show your ownership and influence on a work stream. In addition, use examples that will illustrate universally sought cultural competencies like collaboration.
Highlight Your Social Impact Experience: Whether you have previous work experience in education or you are coming from the private sector, it is important to show your interest in social impact or change. Be sure to include any work you have done to support a nonprofit or school, even if you were a volunteer. If you are a member of a group’s board, include any fundraising work or event organization you’ve participated in.
Use Accessible Language: Craft your resume for a general audience. Anyone should be able to look at your resume and have a clear picture of your experience and interests. Avoid jargon or terminology that is not widely recognized outside of your sector.
If You Are a Current Student, Highlight Your Work Study Experience: Many of our members are students! If you are a student, highlight your work study responsibilities and your experience outside of the classroom. For example, if you were in a work study position for one year, focus on your experience in day to day operations and projects. Ensure that you align your transferable skills to job functions to clearly illustrate your experience in each.
Formatting & Length:
Keep it in Reverse Chronological Order: There are lots of different ways to organize the information on your resume, but reverse chronological (where your most recent experience is listed first) is your best bet. If you are creating a skills-based resume to highlight a specific skill-set, keep aligned roles in reverse chronological order.
Keep it to a Page or Two: You want the information in your resume to be concise and clear. Keeping yourself to a one-two page maximum is a good way to force yourself to only keep the most relevant information on your resume. Current undergraduate students' resumes should be a maximum of one page.
Proofread: Your resume is an example of your writing ability. Use active language, write in a style that is easy to follow, and avoid including irrelevant information; as you re-read your resume, make sure that every single word is important to the message that you are trying to communicate. Don’t forget to proofread! Also, remember that fancy fonts and pictures can detract from the more important part of your resume: your job narrative.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
Do I really have to make my resume one-two pages long?
The earlier you are in your career, the more important it is to keep your resume to one-two pages. Only when you are applying for senior-level positions (Director, VP, C-Suite, etc.) should you consider venturing beyond this. The goal of a one-two page resume is to give the reviewer a one-two page summary of your most important and most relevant accomplishments. Use your resume as a tool to help the hiring manager see why they would want to interview you for the role for which you are applying.
What tips do you have for keeping my resume to a page or two?
Create a complete resume that includes all the education and experience you would ever consider putting on a resume. This resume is likely 2-3 pages.
Cut any part-time, short-term jobs, or volunteer experiences that are not relevant to your current search (e.g. retail, hospitality, and other service positions).
Graduates, if you have more than 3+ years of work experience, cut out anything about college unless it is really impactful or extremely relevant. More than likely, your work experience is more germane than your leadership as a student.
If you have multiple positions at the same organization combine those under one heading to save space.
If you have similar work experience at multiple jobs, include the experience that is more relevant and/or recent, and edit the other down to include less detail.
Cut any unnecessary words, particularly unspecific descriptors. This will make your resume more readable and shorter in length.