This article is part of our How to Apply series, which answers common questions about the application process and includes these articles:
How to Apply: Statement of Purpose
How to Apply: Letters of Recommendation
This post was updated in January 2023.
What is the Admissions Committee looking to learn about me from my résumé? In the application form, I’ve already listed my extracurricular activities and recent work experience. What additional context does my résumé add?
The Admissions Committee is interested in each applicant’s educational and professional history. While you have the opportunity to input your most recent professional and extracurricular activities directly into the application form, your résumé is an opportunity for you to expand on your background and provide a broader narrative of your interests and career trajectory.
How long should my résumé be?
Résumés should be 1-2 pages in length. While it can sometimes be a challenge to fit your entire professional and educational experience in one or two pages, this is an opportunity for you to tell the Admissions Committee the prevailing narrative of your experience. In particular, you might choose to highlight the work, volunteer, and educational experiences you’ve had that have led you to apply to divinity school.
What information should I include on my résumé?
The application form will ask you to provide the following information in your résumé:
- “A chronological list of significant positions held, paid or unpaid, with the most recent appearing first
- Any research, publications, fellowships or scholarships, academic prizes, honor societies, and other pertinent experience
- Extracurricular and service experiences in your local school or faith communities
- Any projects related to issues of diversity or social justice
- An explanation of any gaps in employment or academic history
Your résumé may also include academic prizes, fellowships or scholarships, honor societies, volunteer work, publications, research, and other pertinent experience. Any gaps in employment or academic history should be explained here.”
That’s a lot to include! But, importantly, we’d like to emphasize that you don’t need to limit your résumé to full-time professional experience. Please feel free to include part-time and volunteer work as well as other experiences that have shaped you and led you to apply to HDS.
That’s a lot to include! Is there anything I shouldn’t include on my résumé?
One thing you don’t need to include on your résumé is work that you did in high school; we’re more interested in more recent experiences that you’ve had.
Again, you also don’t need to include everything you’ve ever done. It will be much more manageable for you to aim to address the most important experiences you’ve had really well. If there is something important for the Admissions Committee to know (for example, you worked part-time through your undergrad or took time off to care for a relative) you should feel free to make note of it in your résumé even if it doesn’t warrant a full description.
How should the résumé be formatted?
Your résumé should be in reverse chronological order and separated into sections. At minimum, you’ll want to include ‘Education’ and ‘Experience’ sections, and you may want to include additional sections for your skills and interests. You’ll want to be careful, though, to make sure that you don’t have so many sections that your résumé looks choppy. You can avoid this by using the ‘Experience’ section wisely and including your work experience along with internships and volunteer work in it.
Your résumé should have a lot of white space. While it is definitely tempting to shrink the margins and reduce the font size to include as much as possible, this can make your résumé feel crowded and hard to read. Try to stick with 1-inch margins and 11- or 12-point font sizes.
Similarly, résumés with lots of color and graphics can look fun and exciting, but keep in mind that the Admissions Committee will be reading a lot of résumés at once. A traditional black and white color scheme can often be easier on the eyes. If you do choose to include a pop of color, make sure to use it carefully.
Finally, résumé formatting can be tricky, so we always recommend that you upload your résumé as a PDF to make sure that nothing shifts when we open it on our end.
We hope this information has proven helpful for you! If you have any further questions or concerns not addressed here, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Good luck with your application!