Updating Your Resume: Tips for Graduate Students

a picture of a piece of paper with my resume at top followed by bullet points next to pen and laptop

Written by Susan Helmick, Graduate Assitant for the Graduate College

September is "International Update Your Resume Month," an ideal time for graduate students to revamp their resumes, particularly those getting ready to graduate this semester and enter – or reenter - the job market with newly acquired degrees and skill sets. A resume update isn't just a document refresh; it's a powerful tool for networking and demonstrating hard-won capabilities. Additionally, it offers a chance for self-reflection. 

Even if you're not actively job hunting, regularly updating your resume is a smart strategy to remain prepared, self-aware, and adaptable in a constantly changing job market. To assist graduate students in updating their resumes effectively, we’ve compiled some essential tips:  

  • Craft a Compelling Summary: Begin your resume with a well-crafted summary or objective statement tailored to the specific job for which you're applying. This section should be brief. It should encapsulate your career goals, skills, and what makes you a standout candidate. 
  • Highlight Your Education: Start your resume with a strong education section, including your degree(s), institution name, graduation date, and relevant coursework or honors. Be sure to emphasize your academic achievements and any relevant research projects or theses. 
  • Showcase Relevant Experience: List your work experiences in reverse chronological order, starting with the most recent. Focus on highlighting roles and responsibilities related to your field of study and/or the job you're seeking. Use bullet points to describe your accomplishments, emphasizing how your contributions made a positive impact. 
  • Include Internships and Research: Graduate students often gain valuable expertise through internships and research projects. These experiences can set you apart from other candidates. Detail your responsibilities, skills obtained, and any results or publications stemming from your research. 
  • Quantify Achievements: Whenever possible, express your performance in numerical terms. Use specific numbers and statistics to illustrate your impact, such as "increased efficiency by 25%" or "managed a team of 10 researchers." 
  • Highlight Relevant Skills: Mention technical skills, certifications, or any software proficiencies that align with the job requirements and show an ability to immediately contribute to the organization. 
  • Emphasize Soft Skills: Don't overlook soft skills like communication, problem-solving, and leadership. Graduate students often develop these skills through coursework and group projects. Highlight how these skills make you a well-rounded candidate. 
  • Tailor Each Application: Customize your resume for each job application. Highlight the skills and experiences that are most relevant to the specific position. This shows employers that you've taken the time to understand their needs. 
  • Include Awards and Honors: If you've received scholarships, awards, or academic honors, include them on your resume. These accolades demonstrate your dedication to excellence in your field.
    Seek Feedback: Before finalizing your resume, ask for feedback from professors, career counselors, or trusted colleagues. They can provide valuable insights and help you catch any errors or inconsistencies. 
  • Don’t Forget LinkedIn: Your LinkedIn page not only serves as an online resume but can also help build and promote your professional brand. Colleagues and supervisors can provide recommendations and endorse your talents, which adds credibility to your profile. Make sure it's up-to-date and aligned with your resume content. 
  • Proofread Carefully: Attention to detail is crucial! Typos and formatting errors can leave a negative impression. Proofread your resume meticulously or consider using a professional editing service. 

During 'International Update Your Resume Month,' UC is committed to assisting you in leaving a positive impression on prospective employers and securing the job opportunities toward which you’ve been working. You can connect with a professional career coach or peer career coach at the Bearcat Promise Career Studio, located at Tangeman University Center (TUC) on Main Campus. A wealth of online assets and additional support through UC Career Offices are also accessible on the website. UC's Academic Writing Center is another valuable resource, offering free writing assistance to UC students; explore more via the Writing Resources page.  

Remember, finding the right job is sometimes challenging. It's not always a straightforward journey, and perseverance is key. Keep your eyes on the long-term goal, stay proactive, and continue to invest in yourself.