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Hints for Writing Your Resume/CV

For the purposes of applying to research training programs at the NIH, your resume/CV should summarize all of your experience, educational, volunteer, or work, that might help convince an NIH investigator that you would be a good addition to his/her research group.  The documents always begin with an "Education" section and end with "Publications" (if applicable).  In between, order your sections so that the reader will see those that are most important first.

Look over a simple resume. (This is a resume for a high school student, but can also be adjusted for those further in their education.)

Find additional samples of resumes, cover letters, and emails to NIH investigators here (scroll down to the end of the document).

Here are some concrete suggestions:

  • Pull out the dates so that we can see what you did when.
  • Don't include things that look like paragraphs; use bullets instead.
  • Begin each bullet with an active verb, present tense for current activities, past tense for past experiences.
  • Where possible, stress accomplishments. "Identifying" or "discovering" is much better than "studying".
  • Select section headings that emphasize things YOU want to emphasize: "Leadership" is far stronger than "Clubs and Leadership".
  • Order sections from most to least important for the activity to which you are applying. For SIP, that would mean "Research Experience", then "Teaching/Mentoring", then "Leadership", then "Community Service" or "Science Outreach".
  • "Honors and Awards" may not matter as much (or as much as you think).
  • Think seriously about whether to include "Technical Skills". Do this only if they are unusual. For example, being able to use Microsoft Office should not be included, but being able to use gene-sequencing software tools might be.
  • Explain terms. For example, don't just use acronymns for clubs and scholarships that may be unknown outside your school.
  • Omit the obvious. If you want to talk about running track, you don't need to tell the reader that you go to daily practices and weekly meets.

Remember, the goal is to present all your meaningful activities in a way easy for the reader to take in and in the shortest space possible. A longer resume doesn't "win".

For a much more detailed discussion of resumes and CVs, with multiple examples, take a look at the OITE Guide to Resumes and Curricula Vitae.