Not all of us will get accepted into an Ivy League university. But for those of us who still want to benefit from an Ivy League education, listen up: Princeton University is spilling the secrets behind what makes a successful résumé. 

Career Services at Princeton University has prepared a résumé guide for both seasoned candidates as well as novice résumé writers. No matter what your skill level or amount of work experience, résumé writing is, as Princeton University calls it, a "personal undertaking."

Described as a "marketing tool that demonstrates how a product (you) meets the needs of a potential customer (employer)," the résumé is critical for landing a dream job. Here, according to Princeton University career experts, is what you need to do to craft a functional and effective résumé:

1. Be relevant.

Your job is to get an interview with this résumé--not list out every accomplishment you have ever had. Pay attention to the job description--what keywords, traits, or skills are repeated, and how are you reflecting these in your résumé? It's likely that your past experience will have transferable skills that are related to the position you are applying to, so make sure you make a good case for why you should be hired.

2. Make your résumé digestible.

Résumés should be easy to scan and digest in 15-30 seconds, says Princeton's Career Services. This means your content should be properly formatted, highly organized, and consistent in font style and size. 

3. Keep the reader in mind.

Be aware of who will be reading your résumé. Various industries and fields will prefer certain content. Princeton's Career Services says to note "differences in style, tone, keywords and content across industries and around the globe." You should also be careful to note if you need a CV or résumé. CVs are more in-depth when it comes to research, publications, and presentations, and will be important to craft when applying for academic roles. 

4. Use action-oriented accomplishment statements.

Be sure to liberally sprinkle action-oriented accomplishment statements throughout your résumé. Princeton Career Services suggests that to create an accomplishment statement, "Start with an Action Verb to show you did something. Then provide the Context for that action using quantitative and qualitative terms. Lastly, demonstrate the End Result of your actions to show the value of your contributions!"

Here are some examples of accomplishment statements:

  • Allocated $1,500 budget to promote annual National Coming Out Day rally, increasing participation 25 percent over previous year.
  • Coordinated three fundraising events for local shelters, raising $8,000 and greatly improving community awareness.
  • Collaborated with a partner to formalize a 400-page training curriculum, creating a structure that made the progression of material clear and logical.

5. Remember that résumé-writing is a process.

You won't create the perfect résumé immediately. Know that the process of writing a résumé can take several attempts and that it is best to get multiple pairs of eyes on it for review. Don't be afraid to edit and re-edit various versions of your résumé. (Princeton suggests saving PDF and .txt versions.)