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How to build your resume for studying and working in the US

If you’re applying for a job or university in the United States, you’re probably wondering how you can make yourself stand out amongst the thousands of other students competing for a spot in that university. The best way to distinguish yourself from everyone else is to provide an organized and impressive resume. When applying for a US job or university, the first thing potential schools or employers look at is your resume. No matter where you apply to, you will be asked to present your resume. Here’s how to build a winning resume:

Rules of a good resume
  1. Do not make it longer than one page - Employers and universities spend 2 minutes at most looking at your resume. Only put the important information on there and do not put anything that does not help you.
  2. Do not make any grammatical mistakes - If you have any grammatical mistake in your resume it is perceived to show unprofessionalism and carelessness. If you need, have a native English speaker look over your resume before you finalize it. Also, in resumes it is better to avoid the “I” pronoun and the first person tense.
  3. Make yourself look as good as possible - Use past leadership experiences and titles to your advantage. The best place to brag about who you’ve worked with or what you’ve done is in your resume. If you founded an organization or did some interesting volunteer work, mention it! The resume is not the place to be shy.
  4. Format and organization are very important - Keep your resume consistent with the tenses and wording you use, otherwise it can end up being very confusing. Also keep related information close to each other, for example put all of your personal information at the top and all of your work experience in another category somewhere else on the page. Do not mix between the sections.

American resumes have specific rules:
  1. Use keywords - Unfortunately, some resumes aren’t read very carefully, there are simply too many that the company or school are looking at. They look for key phrases and words that they think will fit with their environment. Most keywords are action verbs that show you have a diverse skillset such as proficient in, facilitated, mastered, negotiated, led and specialized. Also use keywords related to the degree or position you are seeking. It will help you get noticed.
  2. No pictures - As opposed to many other countries, on an American resume you should not put too much personal information (such as date of birth or ID number), and you should definitely not include any pictures. There is a fear of discrimination in the US based on these factors, and you do not want them to have this fear when they are reviewing your materials.
  3. Think about how you will fit in - A lot of companies and schools are looking for fit more than specific accomplishments. Use your resume as an opportunity to express how you stand out and how you will be a better fit than anyone else. If you need to, do some research on the company or school to figure out what they are looking for.
Main differences between a job resume and a university resume
While a university and job resumes have the same basic structure and intent, there are a few key differences. In a job resume you want to express what you are looking for in a work environment and that you have the right skills and experience to be able to perform the job you are applying for. Professional fit is the most important aspect for a job resume. For university, they will want to see how you as a person and as a student will fit into the academic and social environment, therefore you will need to show how you were involved in extracurricular activities such as clubs leadership activities, so include organizations, volunteer work and sports teams that you have been a part of. Another difference between the academic and professional resume is the order. In the academic resume, education will be first. In the professional resume, list all of your professional experience first and put education further down.

Whether it is for a Job or a university program application, your resume is the first contact with your future employer or university so you should really perfect it. You can also ask your professors, friends in your current school, or a GradTrain coach to review it if necessary. Use all the help you can get!

Need more help with planning your studies, internships and the steps following graduation?


  1. Very helpful. Really good information, Thank you very much

  2. Awesome guide. Really helpful and to the point.

  3. Great post! Thank you for sharing valuable information. Keep up the good work...specialist resume writer

  4. Great Work Love it keep it up thanks for sharing

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