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What Is a Takeaway Résumé and How Can It Help You?

Having trouble crafting your resume? Try making the "takeaway résumé" to enhance your applications and show what you've learned. Here's how to do it!

Résumés are an essential part of applying for jobs, colleges, and scholarships. They organize your experiences, convey your accomplishments, and are required for most applications. Traditional résumés detail information about what school you go to, what jobs you’ve had, and what organizations you’re a part of. They summarize what you did and when. But I’m here to talk about an alternate form of a résumé called the “takeaway résumé.” In a nutshell, the takeaway résumé should be a running log of specific skills and experiences you’ve gained from your jobs, classes, or clubs with examples. Traditional résumés focus on what you did and not what you learned. The takeaway résumé focuses on what you took away from the experience—what you learned or gained. This is what adds value. It’s not a traditional résumé, and it’s not the final product you’ll send to employers, but it’s an extremely useful tool you can use to prep for interviews, write cover letters, or add detail to your real résumé.

The difference between traditional and takeaway résumés

Here’s what a traditional résumé might look like:

Sales Associate

  • Maintain constant presence on sales floor and address customer needs
  • Sign customers up for marketing lists
  • Process customer payments

And here’s how a takeaway résumé differs:

Sales Associate

  • I learned effective interpersonal skills by dealing with difficult customers.
  • I learned how to use a combination of evidence and persuasive argument techniques to convince customers to sign up for mailing lists.
  • I learned computer and technology skills when working with a point of service register system, as I often had to troubleshoot problems on my own.

Related: Infographic: What Skills Should You Put on a Résumé to Land the Job?

How can a takeaway résumé help?

Many scholarship applications or interviews ask what you learned from certain organizations you’ve been a part of or which class has been the most impactful. A takeaway résumé can help you answer questions like these. It’s invaluable when it comes to applying to colleges and scholarships, and it’s never too early to start yours. It can also help you stretch your résumé if you don’t have much job experience. Instead of thinking about your required chemistry class during sophomore year as learning about stoichiometry and balancing chemical equations, think about it as what you really took away from the class. Did you learn how to communicate and collaborate with a team on a lab? Did you learn how to carefully document and explain your work in a lab notebook? These skills are relevant, and they’re a lot more meaningful to a potential employer or college than simply listing the class on your résumé.

Related: Tips for Writing a Cover Letter With Little or No Work Experience

Starting a takeaway résumé now will save you the headache come senior year when you’re trying to remember everything you’ve done over the last three years. Start doing this as soon as your freshman year, and writing your résumé will be a cinch!

Use your takeaways to your advantage! Find related scholarships with our Scholarship Search tool.

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About Chrissy Ramakrishnan

Chrissy is a sophomore Statistics major at the University of Wisconsin–Madison who loves all things Wisconsin, ice cream, coffee, and dancing no matter the occasion. A self-proclaimed college application and financial aid nerd, she thoroughly enjoyed taking the ACT and hopes to get her PhD in Education Policy so she can stay in school forever!


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