Look at the following two efforts at starting a résumé and see which you think would be more likely to capture the reader's interest:
I am applying for the Central European University, based on the reputation this University has in the academic community world-wide. I have also spoken to several alumni of your university. I am very interested in admission to the graduate program in Economics. I know that research programs in Economics are very diverse and this is the main reason why I prefer this university.
Recent Moldovan government figures show an alarming 40% increase in mental illness amongst young people in the last ten years. These figures are just one more factor that persuades me that my choice of a career in neuroscience was the right one, and motivates me to study further at Ph.D. level in this field in order to help combat this serious problem.
Sample A has several weaknesses:
- it is too general - one could insert the name of any university
- it does not mention any of the specific features of the university nor does it justify the flattering claim of a 'world-wide reputation'
- it simply says that the university has a good reputation and a range of courses - neither very original nor interesting for the reader
- it does not start by answering the question 'Why economics?' but immediately starts with the more specific question of 'Why economics at CEU
Sample B, in contrast, shows several positive features:
- it grabs the reader's attention with an alarming piece of information
- it starts with a reference to the real world, thus moving from the general to the specific
- it shows that the writer is aware of the link between academe and the real world and has a desire to put theoretical learning into practice
- it very succinctly expresses the link between the applicant's past studies, proposed studies and subsequent career