Your resume is more than a quick summation of your past experiences; it is a snapshot of who you are, a complement to your personal statement and medical school application, and a persuasive marketing tool. Prior to applying to medical school, many applicants do not have a wide range of medical experiences to draw from (including publications, research and conferences), and may actually have no experience creating a standout resume. How then do you successfully elevate your candidacy via your resume?
Here are five resume tips to keep in mind:
1) Use bullet points to reveal hidden strengths and real impact. “Helped physicians perform physical exams” and “offered emotional and academic support to peers” leaves out critical information. We advise all applicants to use the ‘Situation-Action-Result’ formula for bullets. Why were you needed in these roles? Did you undergo specific counseling training or master new skills in the process? What was your impact?
2) Demonstrating leadership is crucial. This can be considered from a macro-/structural and micro-/content level. Many applicants bucket their education, observerships, publications and certifications under individual subheadings, but do not use extracurricular activities as a vehicle for leadership. While ‘Social Co-Chair’ at your fraternity or sorority sounds like a fluffy (and yet fun…) position, managing the social media campaign for a charity concert is not.
3) Tease out transferable skills. At first glance, your summer internship at MoMA or the German Embassy may not be completely relevant to your career in medicine. However, the logistics and teamwork behind the curation of a large-scale exhibition, as well as the communication skills required in a global and hierarchical governmental position, are absolutely transferable to the medical context.
4) Don’t overlook “Education” and “Additional” subheadings. Whether you’re applying for medical school or a summer research position, “Education” can capture details about skills you gained inside a course or notable accomplishments. The “Additional” subheading is a perfect spot for other hobbies and intellectual interests (remember you’re a person, not a robot), languages you speak (Mandarin, Pharaonic), affiliations and other skills.
5) Step back from your resume and evaluate balance. This is a crucial step most applicants forget. Every resume tells a story. Where are the gaps in yours? Do dates properly align? Is student leadership balanced with academic achievement and clinical or research experience? Are certain bullet points repetitious—will your reader learn something new from each? Are your hobbies or interests interesting, too idiosyncratic, or mind-numbingly quotidian?
Remember that your resume is NOT a laundry list of completed tasks (e.g. 1) paid the gas bill, 2) mowed the lawn, and 3) baked a Vegan meatloaf); rather, it is a marketing opportunity waiting to be seized. So, when structuring your resume, fleshing out bullet points, and refining your story, remember to seize it!
Ivy Eyes Editing