Even if you never went to an Ivy League school, you still have the chance to benefit from a resume that is up to Ivy League standards.

The Office of Career Strategy at Yale University offers career advising, alumni connections, interview preparation, and career development resources for students and alumni. But whether or not you're actually attending Yale, anyone anywhere can gain from the professional job-hunting resources it freely offers to the world.

1. Resume accomplishment statements.

An accomplishment statement is a bullet or sentence in the experience section of your resume that quantifies your achievements and results from past work or experiences. Simply listing your roles and responsibilities is a good start, but Yale's career experts say employers want to know how you can contribute to their team or organization. Give examples of your impact and value by following this specific format:

Accomplished [X] as measured by [Y] by doing [Z]

2. Headings that highlight your experience.

Your work experience and leadership make up the bulk of your resume​, so pay careful attention to this section. Yale says to choose headings that best group and highlight your experiences as they relate to the position you are pursuing. With each activity or experience, include employer name, title or role, location, and dates affiliated. For example:

Microsoft, UX Designer, Redmond, WA, September 2015-Present

3. Readability.

The purpose of the resume​, says the Yale Office of Career Strategy, is to provide the employer with a clear picture of skills and achievements that are easy and quick to read. Make sure you are aware of font choice and formatting, and make sure the font size on your name is slightly larger than the rest of your text. Here are some specific tips:

  • Font size should be between 10 and 12 points; choose professional and easy-to-read fonts. Margins typically range from 0.5 to 1 inch.
  • Do not use pronouns (e.g., I, my, me, we, our).
  • U.S. resumes should not include personal information such as age, marital status, children, or religion.
  • Use reverse chronological order (most recent first).
  • While it is ideal to be succinct, people with advanced degrees can go beyond the customary one-page resume, but no more than two pages for master's students and no more than three for PhDs and postdocs.
  • Bold, italics, and bullets can be used in moderation to accentuate and break up content.
  • Resume should be visually appealing and easy to read.
  • Consistency is essential; if you italicize a job title and bold the employer name for one experience, make sure you do the same for all experiences.
  • Proofread several times to avoid spelling and grammatical errors, and do not use abbreviations or slang.

4. Strong word choice.

Avoid using passive language and personal pronouns when writing concise explanations of your experiences and activities. Instead, select an action verb when describing your accomplishments, completed projects, or problems you solved. Strong action verbs include:

  • Addressed
  • Administered
  • Bridged
  • Budgeted
  • Challenged
  • Consulted
  • Defined
  • Directed
  • Drafted
  • Founded
  • Helped
  • Influenced
  • Led
  • Managed
  • Monitored
  • Negotiated
  • Organized
  • Reviewed
  • Scheduled
  • Solved
  • Supervised
  • Updated
  • Verified

5. Quantified results.

Too often, bullet points on resume​s are focused mostly on activity descriptions, rather than outcomes. It is very important you numerically measure what your actions have accomplished, because quantified impact shows future employers what kind of results you can drive. Consider contextualizing your accomplishments as well--provide a baseline for comparison so recruiters can understand exactly what your achievements mean and how they matter. 

Remember, the reason you present a resume​ is to get an interview, not to be hired on the spot (although that would be a major plus). Says Laszlo Bock, former senior vice president of people operations at Google and current CEO and co-founder of Humu, "Once you're in the room, the resume​ doesn't matter much. So cut back your resume​. It's too long." Craft a concise and focused resume​ that prioritizes the most important information. Save the life story for later.

Published on: Oct 9, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.