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Resumes: What You Need to Know

The resume is an opportunity to market yourself to a prospective employer. It should be succinct, target an employer's needs, and distinguish you from your competitors. Before you get started, think about your strengths, weaknesses, personal preferences, and motivations. You should also consider the company's needs, who your competition might be, and your unique skill set. The best way to convince employers that you will add value is to show them that you've done it before.

Alumni Resume Book

Our Alumni Resume Book connects you with organizations looking for talent. Visit 12twenty (our recruiting platform) and upload your resume to get started. You should complete your Profile in 12twenty by updating your Background tab which contains information about your career experience, skills, preferences and more. Ensuring your Background tab is complete and accurate will greatly improve your chance of being contacted by an organization. Looking to connect with fellow HBS alumni? Upload your resume to the Alumni Networking Resume Book to kick start those connections.

Resume Makeover Using VMock and Aspire

Gain instant feedback on your resume and LinkedIn Profile

VMock is a smart career platform that provides instant personalized feedback on your resume and LinkedIn Profile to help improve aspects like presentation, language, and skills.

VMock Smart Editor tool will enable you to:

  • Receive an objective score on your resume based on recruiter criteria
  • Review line-for-line targeted feedback on your resume
  • Re-upload your resume up to 10 times to track improvement

Sign up using your HBS email address. Account requests are granted within 24 business hours. During holidays and winter break (December 24th – January 1st) turnaround time will be delayed until the CPD office reopens. Please note, we recommend you review your resume before considering it final.

Resumes: Sections, Templates & Examples

  • Contact details - Let others know who you are and how to get in touch with you. In addition to your name, you should list your mailing address, phone number, and email address. It is expected to be found at the top of the page. No need to include it on additional pages.
  • Professional history - Start with your most recent role and list in descending chronology. For each role, provide a sentence or two that describes the scope of your responsibility. Then in bullet format, provide accomplishment statements. To write an accomplishment statement, state the problem you encountered, the action you took and the result or impact of your actions. For example, "Led team in implementing a new general ledger package by providing expertise and encouragement, which contributed to a successful, on-time project completion."
  • Education - Spell out your degree so it will stand out better. It is not necessary to include your GPA or GMAT score. Do not list courses. Do list any leadership roles or study abroad experiences.
  • Summary/Profile - A great opportunity to tell the reader exactly what you want them to know. It should be 3-4 sentences in paragraph form following your contact information. Be careful not to load up on overused resume jargon and avoid listing previous jobs/education as it is redundant. Instead, focus on your branding statement, unique themes in your career path, and skills.
  • Key skills - Listing your skills is a great way for the reader to quickly evaluate your skill set. List skills that are relevant to your next position. For each skill, you will need a proof statement in the form of an accomplishment stated in the professional experience section. A good way to set up this section is in 2 or 3 columns with 3-4 skills in each column. The heading could be "Key Areas of Expertise" or "Core Competencies".
  • Personal/Interests - Only include if it helps tell your story.
  • Additional roles - If you participate in organizations outside of your professional employment, you may list these in a separate section. Headings are typically "Volunteer Leadership Roles" or "Community Service".
  • Licenses and Professional Certifications - If you possess a license or certification, these should be called out in a separate section.
  • Objective - No longer in style. Do not include in your resume.
  • References available upon request - No longer in style. Do not include in your resume.
  • Zip file of all resume templates (login required)

Chronological - This is the most commonly used layout. Recommended for a mostly consistent record of employment showing progression/growth from position to position. Not recommended for gaps in employment dates, those out of job market for some time, or changing careers.

  • Template 1 (login required)
  • Template 2 (login required)
  • Template 3 (login required)
  • Template 4 (login required)
  • Sample 1: C-Level Resume (login required)
  • Sample 2: Consulting to Operating Company Resume (login required)
  • Sample 3: VP with Long Tenure Resume (login required)
  • Sample 4: C-Level Biotech resume (login required)
  • Sample 5: Exec. Ed. with Long Tenure Resume (login required)
  • Sample 6: Financial Services Resume (login required)

Streamlined Chronological - This layout also shows progression from one job to the next, but does not include extra sections such as Summary/Profile or Areas of Expertise. Recommended for recent alumni.

  • Template: Streamlined Chronological (login required)

Chronological/Functional Hybrid Resume - In this layout, you can highlight your employment history in a straight chronological manner, but also make it immediately clear you have filled a variety of roles that use different but related skill sets. This is useful to provide a few accomplishments in the beginning to show a theme. Each role would also have specific accomplishment statements.

  • Template: Chronological/Functional Hybrid (login required)
  • Sample: Accomplishment Focus Resume (login required)

Cover Letter Writing

It is essential to send a cover letter with your resume to provide a recruiter with insight into your qualifications, experience, and motivation for seeking a position. The letter also conveys your personal communication style, tone, and professionalism. An effective employment letter should:

  • Be targeted and personalized
  • State why you are interested in the company
  • Explain how you can fill a need
  • Convey your enthusiasm about the opportunity
  • Suggest next steps for communication and action

Guidelines & Examples

Investigate your target company. What is the company's "breaking news?" What drives their business? What are their greatest challenges and opportunities? How can you contribute? eBaker can help with your research.

Outline your objectives using relevant information that attracts the attention of the reader.

  • Salutation Address the letter to a specific person. Capture the reader's attention and briefly introduce yourself. Mention the referral/company contact, if applicable. State the purpose of your letter.
  • Body Describe relevant information you discovered about the company. Discuss the position offered or the position you are looking for. Detail how your skills will benefit the company.
  • Closing Convey your enthusiasm. Anticipate response.

Pay close attention to sentence structure, spelling, and punctuation. Always print your letter to check for typographical errors. Have a friend, colleague, or family member review your letter whenever possible.

Cover letters are the place to briefly and directly address the gap in your career. For example, "I am returning to the workforce after a period of raising children." Then address your strengths, qualifications and goals. Emphasize your excitement and preparedness to re-enter the workforce now.

Response to Identified Advertisement (pdf)

Branding You

Resume writing tips  , creating visual impact.

A concise, visually appealing resume will make a stronger impression than a dense, text-laden document. Respect page margins and properly space the text. Learn to appreciate the value of "white space." Limit a resume to one or two pages but not one and ¼. Ensure content is balanced on both pages. A CV is typically longer because it includes additional sections such as publications and research.

Use Parallel Construction

Select a consistent order of information, format, and spacing. If one experience starts with a brief overview followed by bullet points, subsequent experiences should follow a similar form. Parallel construction—including the use of action verbs (pdf) (login required) to start all phrases—greatly enhances a resume's readability.

Always Proofread

Pay close attention to margin alignment, spelling, punctuation, and dates. Read your resume backward to check for typographical errors. (You will focus on individual words, rather than the meaning of the text.) Better yet, have a friend, colleague, or family member review your resume.

Use Action Verbs

Action Verbs List (login required)

Improve Your Writing

Common questions, past program resources  .

harvard cover letter template pdf

How to Build a Resume that Stands Above the Competition

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Examples of Resumes & Cover Letters By Major

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Browse top resume and cover letter examples by job, industry, format, and experience level. Every sample is created and approved by our team of Certified Professional Resume Writers. Resume categories include: Accounting/Finance, Art/Design, Computer Science, Career Changers, Education, Science, Health & Wellness, Management & Law.

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Write an effective Cover Letter: Tips and template | Hays US

Mastering the art of cover letters: hays template included.

2 min | Julien Clement | Report | Resumes & cover letters

A man in a suit looks into his laptop while writing on a notebook.

Submitting a cover letter to complement your resume can boost your chances of standing out to the recruiter.

Remember that a well-crafted cover letter should be concise , engaging , and customized for each application. Take the time to research the company, understand the job requirements, and tailor your letter accordingly. It’s an opportunity to make a positive first impression and increase your chances of landing an interview!

Download your cover letter template  

Here are some tips on drafting one:

1. Research before you start writing

You should have done this when creating your resume , but you’ll have additional opportunities here to make reference to the hiring company’s industry, culture and values.

2. Personalize it

Don’t copy and paste your cover letter for every application with a few minor adjustments. It’s worth taking the time to write one from scratch, since the reader will know when you’ve just edited a few words of the same cover letter that you send to everyone.

3. Start with a strong intro to hook the reader in

The first sentence will either grab the reader’s attention or lose it. Instantly tell your story and communicate how you’re the solution to the hiring manager’s problems, instead of the generic “I’m applying for the role of XXX.”

4. Mention whether you’ve come across this opportunity via a friend or connection within the organization

Maybe it was suggested to you because they thought you were a good fit for the role, or you crossed paths as an intern or an employee at one of the company’s suppliers or competitors?

Are you ready to start? Get your cover letter template here

About this author

Julien Clement VP, Eastern Canada

Julien has a Master in Finance and started his career at EY France. He joined Hays in Lyon, France in 2011 to help develop the Accounting & Finance desk. Then in 2015 he transferred to Canada, opening the Montreal office in Property and Construction. Julien went on to launch the A&F division in 2017, as well as other specialties including Manufacturing and Logistics, HR, etc. The following year Julien managed the permanent desk for Montreal and in 2020 for both Montreal and Ottawa. In August 2021 he got promoted to Regional Director for the Eastern Region and currently manages and leads our Montreal and Ottawa offices. He also has a strong background in Accounting and Finance, Property, Construction, and IT.

COMMENTS

  1. Harvard College Resumes & Cover Letter Guide

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    Cover Letter Writing Guide Getting Started A cover letter is an important component of your application package. The purpose of a cover letter is to highlight your accomplishments, projects, or skills that align with the requirements of the position. Writing a cover letter is an opportunity to convey special information that is not on your ...

  11. PDF OCS COVER LETTERS RESUMES

    RESUMES AND COVER LETTERS Your cover letter is a writing sample and a part of the screening process. By putting your best foot forward, you can increase your chances of being interviewed. A good way to create a response-producing cover letter is to highlight your skills or experiences that are most applicable to the job or industry and to ...

  12. Resumes & Cover Letters

    Cover Letter Writing. It is essential to send a cover letter with your resume to provide a recruiter with insight into your qualifications, experience, and motivation for seeking a position. The letter also conveys your personal communication style, tone, and professionalism. An effective employment letter should: Be targeted and personalized.

  13. Create a Resume/CV or Cover Letter

    Create a Resume/CV or Cover Letter. A resume is a brief, informative document summarizing your abilities, education, and experience. It should highlight your strongest assets and differentiate you from other candidates. Used most frequently in academic settings, a CV (curriculum vitae) is also a summary of your experience and abilities, but a ...

  14. PDF RESUMES and COVER LETTERS

    RESUMES AND COVER LETTERS Your cover letter is a writing sample and a part of the screening process. By putting your best foot forward, you can increase your chances of being interviewed. A good way to create a response-producing cover letter is to highlight your skills or experiences that are most applicable to the job or industry and to ...

  15. PDF Resumes & Cover Letters for Student PhD Students Graduate

    No part of this publication may be reproduced in any way without the express written permission of the Harvard University Faculty of Arts & Sciences Mignone Center for Career Success. 4/23. Mignone Center for Career Success Harvard University, Faculty of Arts & Sciences Cambridge, MA 02138 Phone: (617) 495-2595 careerservices.fas.harvard.edu.

  16. Handbook: Resumes and Cover Letters for Master's Students (from Harvard

    A comprehensive guide to the world of Resumes and Cover Letters, written and presented specifically for Master's students by the Harvard FAS Office of Career Services. Click here to access the handbook.

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    Use a 10-12 point font in a style like Arial, Calibri, Geneva, Helvetica or Times New Roman. Margins - Try to keep about 1" on all sides of the document, but edit to make your resume one page! Be consistent - If you put a heading in bold, make sure to put all of your headings in bold, etc.

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    See Sample Electronic Resume on page 44 Don't forget to include a cover letter in the body of the email too If you have your resume in a PDF file, you can also attach that with your email . The PDF version will allow the employer the opportunity to see your resume in an attractive format, utilizing bold and underlines .

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    Harvard College Paragraph Resume Template. Word (.docx) version. Download or make a copy to edit (do not request edit access): Google Docs version. Use this paragraph template to build out your first draft of your resume.

  23. Examples of Resumes & Cover Letters By Major

    Browse top resume and cover letter examples by job, industry, format, and experience level. Every sample is created and approved by our team of Certified Professional Resume Writers. Resume categories include: Accounting/Finance, Art/Design, Computer Science, Career Changers, Education, Science, Health & Wellness, Management & Law. View Resource.

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  25. The Only Cover Letter Template You Need To Easily Apply To Jobs

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  26. Write an effective Cover Letter: Tips and template

    Download your cover letter template. Here are some tips on drafting one: 1. Research before you start writing. You should have done this when creating your resume, but you'll have additional opportunities here to make reference to the hiring company's industry, culture and values. 2. Personalize it. Don't copy and paste your cover letter ...

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