By Deborah Vieyra
Constructing a fellowship application resume that stands out can be an incredibly daunting task. Your mind is likely abuzz with a swarm of questions. How do you know what to include and what to exclude, if you want your resume to leap from the page and into the minds of the relevant selection committees? How do you even begin to summarize your life up to this point in a one or two-page document? And then there are more specific questions you might have: Should you have one generic resume, or tailor it to each application? How far back in your life should you go? (I mean, do they really need to know about the Grade Two school play where you played second ladybug from the right?)
Your fellowship application resume is not very different from an elevator pitch, a means of showing why you are a good fit—in a very short time. As a general rule, the length of your resume should be determined by where you are in your career. The more life you have lived, the more material you are bound to have to share. If you are just graduating high school, you should probably not go beyond one page. (Again, that stellar ladybug performance is probably not the kind of detail they are searching for.) If you are mid-career, the committee will more than likely want to know a bit more about you. Think of delving into the past eight to nine years of your life and, unless very relevant, do not go further back than that. The emphasis should always be towards the succinct and away from the superfluous.
YOU are the subject of your resume, and if you want it to stand out from the crowd, YOU are the thing that is going to do it. Here are three ways to focus your resume so that the best possible YOU is seen:
#1 You as a person
While it may seem overwhelming, the truth is, writing your fellowship application resume is one thing nobody is more qualified to do than you. Think of it as an opportunity to tell your story, to pique interest about you and the past experiences that have shaped you. While it is a good idea to construct a generic resume that will be applicable to various fellowships, it is also worth considering certain tweaks that you can make that pertain to the specific selection criteria of the fellowship you are applying to. If it is an international fellowship, the committee will more than likely want to see if you are able to adapt to new environments. If you have previous experiences of breathing easy as a fish out of water, make sure to list them on your resume. Perhaps you have taken part in volunteer activities in a community that is not your own, learned a new language or hosted a student from another country.
#2 You as an academic
Whatever point you are at in your career, it is important to highlight your specific academic strengths and accomplishments. If you are mid-career, it is vital that you list any relevant publications, as well as any previous fellowships. Include any work as a teacher or teaching aide. It will not only show that you that you have experience in the classroom but will also display a capacity to operate within an institution. If you are just starting out, highlight any academic achievements that you have made to this point. If you have won any academic awards, make sure to note this distinctively.
#3 You as a professional
Of course, it is important for you to list relevant work experience on your resume. The key, however, is to ensure that everything you list is indeed relevant. You want this document to be eye-catching and easy to read. If it is overpopulated with details that have little bearing on what you are applying for, the selection committee may quickly get fatigued. Finally, ensure that your resume is properly checked for grammatical and spelling errors, that the names of all people listed are correct, and that your formatting is clear. If your resume is not proofread, your first impression may not be the one you want to last.
Before sending it off, think of your fellowship resume from the committee’s perspective. If you knew nothing about you, and you read your resume, what would your first impression be? Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Getting the perspective of the right people may add that extra sparkle to your resume.
With all this in mind, why don’t you search for a fellowship in ProFellow’s fellowship database and put your new resume to work? Good luck!
Deborah Vieyra is a Fulbright alumna from South Africa who completed her MA in Applied Theatre Arts at the University of Southern California. She now works as a writer, proofreader and performer in Vancouver, Canada.
© Victoria Johnson 2018, all rights reserved.