Do You Have an “A” Resume? Not Good Enough!

Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 8.06.04 AMIf you’ve been a straight-A student your whole life, then you probably know how to put together an ‘A’ resume pretty quickly.  And you’ll probably highlight that A-level GPA on your resume.  It will look something like this:


Only problem is, the competition for all those good jobs is comprised of other people just like you in that one respect–they all have straight A’s, too!  

To get the interview, you need an A+ resume.  But more than that, you need to highlight the unique you, the experiences and attributes that truly make you a standout candidate.

Here is what that A+ resume looks like: 


Let’s walk through some of the changes that upgraded this already excellent resume.  In the before, present tense and past tense are both used:

Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 8.14.08 AM


In the after, past tense is consistently used:

Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 8.17.45 AM


This is a minor detail, but that is what separates all the run-of-the-mill ‘A’ resumes from the standout, ‘A+’ resumes.  

Let’s look at other changes in this same section of the resume.  

In the before resume, there is some vague general information that leaves the reader wondering, “how?”– “how do you ensure that members get the necessary information?” and “how do you embody the culture of the organization?”  

Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 8.48.58 AM

In the after, those questions are answered in one clear, concise resume line:

Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 8.46.37 AM

We also see efficient use of language: “recruited 88 applicants” is more clear and concise than “responsible for the recruitment of 88 applicants.”

And I love the use of quantifiable information in this entry–and throughout this resume!  

Let’s move on to some more dramatic changes to the “Leadership” section of this resume.

All the highlighted information pictured here gets deleted in the ‘after’ resume.  First, the information about study abroad, which features the “student self,” is sacrificed to make room for more professional experience (the study abroad and language skills do make it in to the last two lines of the resume–in the “Honors and Qualifications” section).  Second, the AIESEC information is a confusion of acronyms and dates.  

Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 8.59.58 AM












In the after, we see clear explanations of conferences, retreats, and team leader work with AIESEC–and it has been re-organized so that it appears with the other AIESEC content.  

We also see this candidate’s work with a start-up called Study Cloud, which was completely absent on the before resume.  This is another example of burying the lead.  Don’t bury the lead!  

Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 9.00.11 AM












What changes do you need to make to your resume in order to stand out in a crowd of ‘A’ resumes?  It might mean careful editing for details like consistent verb tense, typos, and insider abbreviations.  It might mean re-organizing the content.  Maybe you need to add something that you didn’t realize made you unique.  

Make sure your resume highlights those things that make you unique.  

And remember, you have to customize each copy you submit to the position you are applying to–so even after you have a polished resume like this “after” example, you will still have to move things around, add and subtract certain components, and include key words.

2009 Head ShotDarcy Lear is a career coach specializing in job search documents, professional school applications, and interview preparation. General and detailed feedback on your resume like you see in this post is $25. Your entire application package (up to 3 documents) is $50. And if you want to add in a face-to-face meeting to explore what you might be leaving off your application materials, that’s $100–and that includes working with you through submission of your first application so that you can be sure to match your materials to the specific job ad as closely as possible. See details here. For one-on-one support in preparing for your job search or to set up a campus workshop, contact Darcy:
This entry was posted in Career Advice, document preparation, resume tips. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s