A Primer on Writing the 1-page Résumé for Undergraduates
Around this time last year, when I started ironing out my Résumé to fit in everything I’d done of worth in a page, I’d literal existential crises — ranging from what all to include, to which bucket should I fit this particular engagement in, to the general woes of alignment, formatting, and word doc related inefficiencies that keep piling in every time you sit to edit. It admittedly took me a loooong time to get the 1 page document right, and it was an earnest exercise in brevity, and learning how to be crisp and concise.
I am putting together this article, because this information isn’t really accessible to a lot of students. I had to stalk multiple people on LinkedIn, attend workshops, and have multiple seniors and peer review my document for feedback — and then I arrived at something I could send across during applications. To do my part in ensuring that everyone at least has a starting point while drafting their Résumé, I have written this primer.
Why 1-Page CVs?
This article by Indeed.com is a good read — but briefly — hiring managers have extremely less time to go through each individual profile, so it’s vital to prioritize and highlight your engagements in a way that showcases your creativity and bent of mind. Furthermore, as undergraduate students, on the cusp of our careers, 1-page is appropriate for us.
I used this template here, while making my own Résumé. I’ll now take you through the specifics of making each bucket, and tailoring it according to your needs.
I) Academic Qualifications
The entire table is pretty self explanatory — fill in the necessary details and you’re good to go. In the Remarks section, you can specify any of the following things:
1. Your Rank in your Batch in School/College (Eg: 2/180 students or alternatively, in the top 10% of students)
2. If you don’t know where you stand in your class, you can highlight your top grades (Eg: 9+/10 GPA in 10/12 subjects)
3. Specify the division you passed with (Eg: First Division with Distinction)
These are some possible things you can state, the key is to know how to frame it with regards to your academic performance.
If you’ve done any specific certifications or diplomas (eg: FRM, CFA) this would be a good place to include it in.
I clubbed Academic Qualifications and Achievements under one bucket at the suggestion of a friend — and it’s a good idea that saves space too. Under this, you’ve an opportunity to detail the following:
- Your Scholastic achievements — any scholarships you received, if you were recognised for your academic performance (awards, roll of honour), Olympiads, etc.
- You can state any subjects you received distinction/highest possible grade in during your undergraduate years.
- Try to also state the number of people you received a particular award in the pool of — for example, AIR 10 in XYZ Exam out of 40000+ people.
Internships are an important part of our profile, since they’re the only workplace experience we’ve been privy to as students. However, not having internship experience or having what you deem ‘less’ than your peers is also no problem — your CV is judged on the basis of various elements. Try to emphasize the ones you think will stand out more.
Writing about your experience at internships is a tricky part, especially if you haven’t received tailored job descriptions from the HR at your organisation or your placement cell. I will refer to some techniques that you can adapt -
1. The STAR Method
2. PARADE Method
Things to Remember
1. How did you bag the position, state the number of applicants you bagged it out of (1 out of 3 in 600+ applicants pan India).
2. Use Industry Specific terms, but ensure that the hiring manager of the firm you’re applying for is familiar with them too.
3. Talk about the impact of your project in quantitative terms, as much as you can. Mention any software, or skills you used in relation to your role.
4. Include the final result of your work — any publications, usage of a financial model you made, recommendations that were actualized, etc.
5. Write about any letter of recommendation, note of appreciation, extension/ pre-placement offer from the organization you received.
If you can, also include a line about about the organisation and it’s work. All of this is A LOT, and the need to summarize everything in around 3–4 lines seems difficult, but once you visualize and breakdown the specifics, you’ll be able to go from there!
III) Research Projects
This can include any research apprenticeships you’ve undertaken, as well as any papers you’ve authored as a student. I myself talked about the paper I co-authored as part of my department’s undergraduate research fellowship.
Approach this like you did with internships — specify the Project, your individual responsibilities (literature review, survey collection, data cleaning), try to quantify it as much as you can (Eg: Responsible for cleaning 10+ datasets), and state any particular software you used.
State the publication/journal name, the ISBN number, or any specific achievement that the research accrued, including possible prizes at Research Paper Presentations.
IV) Positions of Responsibility
Positions of Responsibility are a great way to spotlight your leadership, team building, as well as problem solving skills. You can include your work in your college department and societies, but also your work outside of that — for instance, I talked about my roles at the largest student newspaper in India, as well as at a literary magazine, since it emphasized the depth of work I’d done, over a long period of time.
Some points to keep in mind that’ll help you draft:
1. Quantify your role and contribution as much as possible (yes, this is a recurring theme everywhere) — for instance: Led a team of 20+ writers to produce 10 long form articles; Spearheaded increase in audience viewership by 200%; Raised funds worth INR 20000; Elected by a student body of 150+ members
2. Be as specific about your role as possible. Don’t just write Editor in Chief at Panorama, write Editor in Chief at the College Magazine of XYZ College. Context matters a lot, be sure to lay out everything in a comprehensive manner.
3. In case you’ve multiple PORs and are confused on which one to integrate, you can also attempt at clubbing them under one bucket. Don’t add more than 4–5 PORs, and focus on the ones during your undergraduation.
4. Talk about the new things in particular you introduced, the impact it had on your peers. Mention if you’ve received any letter of recommendation, or token of appreciation at the end of your tenure.
V) Extracurricular Activities & Achievements
Extra curricular (or co-scholastic) activities, are another way to highlight your endeavours in your student life. They’re an excellent way to showcase your creativity, aptitude and skills across non-academic disciplines, indicating a holistic profile.
To begin with, you can divide your engagements into two or three buckets. For instance, I made a bucket about Community Service, in which I detailed all my major engagements + achievements in the field in the last few years. You can do the same for a range of activities, including sports, photography, finance & strategy competitions, as well as creative writing. You can also talk about any languages you’ve learnt, make sure to specify the level (A2, B1) or your proficiency (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced).
Following this pattern is a great way to showcase your commitment, as well consistency towards a particular interest. It also serves as a way of putting to paper your journey of honing your skills, which is always a good thing to talk about!
Provide links to your portfolios, publications embed inside the document itself. Remember to (again) quantify everything you can — for example: Won an International M&A case Study Competition out of 2000+ participating teams. Be specific with your role (eg: Team Leader, Director of Affairs) and at last, arrange everything chronologically, with the latest endeavour being on top of the bucket.
Points to Remember (last time!)
1. The entire document should be in the same font, font number and colour (black). I used Times New Roman, 9 pt throughout. Usually, 9–10 pt is a good range to aim for.
2. Use Action Verbs — here is a good list.
3. Highlight the quantitative aspects, and the important parts of all the buckets by bolding them. However, don’t go overboard with it.
4. Formatting is extremely important! Ensure everything is aligned properly, and re-read the document as much as you can to ward off any typos.
4. Write your Name, Email id, and Phone number on top of the table.
5. IMPORTANT: Make the resume and edit it in a Word Doc, but ALWAYS convert it into a pdf while uploading to a portal, or emailing it. Formats in Word tend to get disrupted in different desktops, but pdfs remain uniform throughout.
6. It’s always good to seek feedback from your seniors, peers, mentors, who can guide you how to fine tune the document even further.
That’s it from my side folks! I wrote this based on my own experience as an undergraduate at University of Delhi, and hence it might be limited in some ways — feel free to tell me if there’s something else I can include. Again, this is a very generalized format, but I hope that this article helps students to gain understanding of how they can kickstart the Résumé writing thing — and then tailor it according to their needs.
I’m available at email@example.com if you need to send anything across!