A resume seems so simple in theory – it’s just a one-page document that records a summary of your key accomplishments and skills. And yet writing a resume can prove extremely challenging for everyone from talented professionals seeking a job change to harried students completing their school applications. It doesn’t help that typically, you’d be writing your resume under stressful conditions, whether you’re unemployed and seeking a new job or trying to get into the grad school of your dreams while managing all your other work or school commitments. So how can you write an impressive resume in these high-pressure situations? We have some expert tips to help you.

#1 Research the required format

This is an incredibly important step that many people just skip over in their hurry to get started with the resume content. In fact, the very first thing you should do in any situation where you have to create a resume is to find out the format you’re expected to use, which includes details such as the length, sections, type of content, visual formatting, mandatory templates, etc.

For instance, if you’re applying to grad school, you should know the difference between a resume and a CV and which of these you’re expected to send to the admissions committee. If you’re applying for a job, find out the industry standard for the types of resumes that work for that position – should the resume be focused on skills or achievements? How long should it be? What template should you use? A graphic designer, for instance, might impress with a very visually appealing resume with creative elements which would be unsuitable for someone applying to a legal firm.

Knowing such details will help you create a resume that stands out at first sight and isn’t rejected because it’s missing some mandatory formatting element. You want to ensure that the way your resume looks doesn’t stop your readers from reviewing the actual contents!

#2 Customize the resume content

Next, you need to fill out the resume with relevant achievements and skills. The key word here is “relevant”. One of the most difficult aspects of resume writing is knowing which experiences to include and which ones to leave out. Most people struggle with this process and end up over-stuffing the document with irrelevant details that obscure their achievements.

Keep in mind that each and every resume needs to be customized to a specific situation. For example, if you’re a medical student, you can’t just recycle the bullets from an old high school resume in a residency CV! To create an effective resume, you need to think deeply about the job or program you’re applying to and what they’re looking for in an ideal candidate. Carefully curate the achievements, experiences, and skills to showcase your unique suitability for the role.

#3 Find the right narrative

To really make your resume stand out, it should clearly communicate an overarching “theme” or “narrative” – for instance, an interest in a specific academic subject, or a journey towards a specific profession, or a long-term cultivation of expert skills. For example, you might have multiple extracurricular activities, but which one shows your overall growth and highlights your job/program specific skills? That’s the one you should include at the top of the list.

Remember that many admissions and hiring committees use a candidate’s resume as a kind of blueprint for the interview. The content of an MBA applicants’ resume will influence the MBA interview questions the candidate will have to tackle. If you lay the right seeds of an impressive narrative in your resume, you’re setting yourself up for a successful interview as well.

#4 Include the right keywords

Along with curating which experiences and skills to include in the resume, you also need to update the language to make sure it’s suitable for the organization or school you’re applying to. Remember that many resumes are scanned by machines and may be rejected simply because they do not include the keywords related to the specific role. Look through the job description, program description, company or school website, admissions requirements, and all such relevant information so you can identify the most important keywords and include them in your resume.


With the help of these simple resume writing tips, you will soon be able to create the perfect resume to impress the company or program of your dreams. Yes, writing a resume can be a stressful task but if you do it right, it can be both rewarding and enlightening. Who knows? All that introspection might even help you learn a few new things about yourself!