How to Write the Perfect Resume for a Fellowship Application

Aug 04, 2016

How to Write the Perfect Resume for a Fellowship Application

By ProFellow Founder, Dr. Vicki Johnson

Many fellowship applications require the inclusion of a resume, in addition to other items like a personal essay, project proposal, transcripts and recommendation letters. To create an effective resume for your fellowship application, it’s important to keep in mind the purpose that it serves – to provide a brief, skimmable overview of your relevant professional experience, education, skills and volunteer activities. In many cases, your resume will be the first thing the selection committee reviews. To strengthen your chance of making it to the next stage of the application process, your resume should be tailored to the fellowship and provide the exact information that the selection committee wants to know.

In the case of a mid-career, graduate study, research or post-doctoral fellowship application, it is ok to provide a resume of several pages because it is important to provide relevant information such as your publications, speaking engagements, and leadership and volunteer roles, in addition to your current and former jobs and education. If your resume is running long, edit your professional section to provide one short paragraph or bullet points under each of your current and previous jobs. Focus primarily on your positions within the last 5-8 years – jobs more than 8 years ago can be the title only. You should list specific and quantifiable achievements, not your job description.

If you are graduating senior or recent graduate applying to a professional fellowship, I suggest no more than a 2 page resume with experiences and skills relevant to the fellowship. Creating a long resume that includes babysitting, part-time barista jobs, one-time or very short-term volunteer activities, and lists of interests like running and reading are typically not useful and will distract the reviewer from reading your key academic and volunteer achievements.

For fellowships focused on international experiences and exchange (e.g., Fulbright, Cultural Vistas, Peace Corps), be sure to include and highlight:

  • Previous international experience like study abroad, volunteer positions and independent travel that was longer than 2 weeks
  • Experience working with diverse cultures, such as English language tutoring
  • Foreign language study and fluency
  • Examples, within your professional or volunteer experience, of your adaptability, flexibility, and self-sufficiency – if you have no previous experience living abroad, these experiences will strengthen the argument that you will thrive in a foreign culture

For professional fellowships for recent graduates (e.g., New York City Urban Fellows, Herbert Scoville Jr. Peace Fellowship) be sure to include and highlight:

  • Work, internship and volunteer experiences that demonstrate your success working in an office or on a team
  • Leadership experiences and skills
  • Volunteer roles that demonstrate your interest in public service
  • Academic coursework and papers you have written that are relevant to the discipline or focus of the fellowship – for example, if you are applying to the Herbert Scoville Jr. Peace Fellowship, coursework in international security and foreign policy is relevant

For fellowships requiring a self-designed project (e.g. Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, German Chancellor Fellowship), be sure to include:

  • Examples of professional or academic projects that you independently planned, executed and completed successfully
  • Research papers and publications that demonstrate writing and research skills
  • Examples from your professional or volunteer experiences of your adaptability, flexibility, and self-sufficiency – these can help demonstrate your ability to overcome challenges that you may face when executing your proposed project
  • Leadership experiences and skills

Dr. Vicki Johnson Headshot

Dr. Vicki Johnson is Founder and CEO of ProFellow, the world’s leading online resource for professional and academic fellowships. She is a four-time fellow, top Ph.D. scholar, Fulbright recipient and an award-winning social entrepreneur. She is the Creator and Director of Fully Funded, an award-winning online course and mentorship program for graduate school applicants seeking to find and win full funding. 

© Victoria Johnson / ProFellow, LLC 2016, all rights reserved.