You’ve grinded through years of meticulous study and research. You’ve had thousands of hours of practice and supervised work.
You’ve helped people from all walks of life with their mental health issues.
So what do you do when you’ve invested so much time and effort…
Yet you’re stuck in front of a blank screen. Unable to form a sentence. Waiting for your psychology resume to magically write itself.
How does one even begin to talk about their academic and professional history?
Is it really necessary to include absolutely everything you’ve done on your resume? Or you can skip some minor details?
Here is something we’ve found after years of consulting job seekers - many find it hard to summarize their experience. Even for those who write research papers for a living.
Talking about achievements gets tougher when we put the spotlight on ourselves.
There are those who shy away because they don’t feel like they’ve done enough to merit the position. By contrast, candidates with a long work history don’t know where to begin.
And when it comes to psychology, you'll need to thread a fine line. Between confidentiality and technical jargon.
We’re here to help you stay on track with your career! Keep reading to learn everything about how to craft a strong psychology resume.
Our encyclopedic resume guide will teach you
- The type of application you need to present, depending on the role you’ve chosen to pursue
- How to get noticed by hiring managers even if you’re a recent college grad or don’t have a Psy.D yet
- What resume format best suits your work experience and how to align it with the job description
- How to strike a balance between your education and your professional background
- How to reference your practical experience without divulging personal and identifiable information
- Important details to get right so you get noticed by recruiters
Looking for related resumes?
Building your psychology resume: how to convince recruiters you’re the perfect applicant
Naturally, the first thing on your mind would be "How do I write a psychology resume?”. But before we answer this question, we need to take a step back.
Because not every position or employer will accept a resume as an application.
Yes, depending on the career path you’ve chosen, you may need to prepare different application documents.
If you’ve decided to pursue a clinical psychology job or an academic role, you must write a curriculum vitae (CV).
Although in many cases the terms CV and resume are interchangeable, this is one of the few exceptions.
Employers who provide research-based positions want a more detailed review of your experience. Hence, the CV requirement.
But if you prefer to work as a therapist or a counselor, a one-page resume with your best accomplishments will suffice. Keep in mind, we’ll focus only on the resume in this guide.
Now that we’ve established which document you’ll need, let’s go in more depth about the application process.
There are plenty of resume format types out there. But there are only three you need to know about:
Which one is the best for you? It all depends on your circumstances.
If you’re an experienced professional, opt for the reverse-chronological resume. It’s hiring managers’ favorite because it has a traditional layout and it’s easy to review.
Why is this important?
Recruiters are flooded with resumes for various available roles on a daily basis.
As a result, they spend no more than 6 seconds scanning through a resume before making a quick decision.
Presenting your experience in a familiar format will make the job of a hiring manager easier.
And if you include certain details in strategic places, you'll boost your chances of getting selected. We’ll discuss resume arrangement and specifics later on in this guide.
For now, start thinking about which achievements you would want to feature on your resume.
But what if your work history isn’t as long or you’re career pivoting?
Then the best option for you would be the hybrid resume. This format provides a perfect balance between experience and skills.
While most psychology-related jobs are technically demanding, they also require an array of soft skills. And a big chunk of these fall into the transferable skills category.
Especially if you have experience working with:
- vulnerable individuals
- minority groups
- people with special needs
And if you have no work history at all? Well, there’s a template for this, too. The functional resume.
This one focuses primarily on your skills and educational background. But apart from those, make sure you mention supervised sessions. Or any pro bono work you’ve done in the past.
After you choose a resume format that works for you, it’s time for you to consider information placement.
A few key components is all you need.
As you can see, it’s very simple - there are five must-have sections. Anything else you add would be the cherry on top of a whipped cream pie.
Speaking of pies, let’s continue the analogy. You know that most pies are mostly sweet and you know what they look like.
Yet, what would happen if you take a bite and the taste is not what you expected? You would blame either the ingredients or the recipe.
The same goes for your psychology resume. You may have used the correct format, yet if your experience is:
- Not styled and formatted properly
- Doesn’t focus on the right details
So, what should you take into account?
Consider the interview questions in the table below. They will give you a rough idea on what recruiters want to see in a candidate.
Finally, some employers may ask you to submit your resume in an MS Word format. This practice was inherited from the academic and research circles.
That’s why before you start building your resume, check the job description. Verify which file type you must use.
If the description does not specify, we suggest opting for the PDF file type.
Because it preserves the structure and style of your resume. Regardless of the device or operating system recruiters are using to review them.
How to properly format the header of your psychology resume
Compared to psychology, you don’t have to jump through hoops to get this one right. After all, the resume header is a small box which contains your:
- Job title and qualifications
- Phone number
- Email address
- LinkedIn profile or a portfolio website
- Link to a bibliography (if you’ve published your researches)
Think of it as a business card you hand out to potential clients. It must be compact and to the point.
Most importantly, it should be error-free. Check out for any typos, spelling mistakes or broken links.
Nothing repels hiring managers more than glaring mistakes on a resume.
2 psychology resume header examples
Have a look at the following sample:
What do you think? Which details would stand out most to recruiters?
The first problem here is the name abbreviation. Unless you’re a famous psychologist, who goes by a certain name, don’t abbreviate.
Secondly, Luciano has listed only his phone number. The recruiter may not be able to call each candidate personally.
Also, imagine you gave this header as a business card to a client. If they feel uncomfortable speaking over the phone, how else would they be able to reach out? Consideration is key.
So, include a second method of communication. Such as an email or your LinkedIn profile.
Just look at what a difference a few little tweaks in the resume header can make:
Notice that this time there is a title next to Luciano’s name.
Why does this matter?
While this seems like a minor detail, its presence means that the applicant is licensed. Not someone who’s merely claiming to be a Clinical Psychologist.
How to summarize your success story
So, what looks good on a psychology resume?
Achievements would be an obvious answer. But this is not enough. We need to dig deeper.
Let’s start with the purpose of the resume summary. Its aim is to succinctly explain:
- What your biggest accomplishments are
- Which famous clinics, hospital, schools or practitioners you’ve worked with
- Your strengths and skill set
- Any other relevant information which may grab recruiters’ attention
All in 5-6 short sentences.
This task is harder than framing your resume header. Yet, it’s not impossible.
Wait, what about the resume objective? Is it any different?
Slightly. There is one main distinction. And that is the intended user. With the first being reserved for experts and the latter to:
- College grads
- New industry professionals
- Individuals who switch careers
What’s more, the objective focuses more on aligning oneself with the company’s goals and mission.
This is the place where you link some of your valuable transferable skills to the offered role.
But what is an explanation without examples?
2 psychology resume summary examples
Review the resume summary below:
Sounds like a classified ad, doesn’t it?
This is because the text is written as if it was a telegram. The phrasing is stiff and rushed.
Being a board certified clinical psychologist who works with the police is definitely brag-worthy. But the text is vague and lacks the necessary context to make it memorable.
There are no references to specific projects and employers. Nor is there a proof of the personal qualities listed at the beginning.
What’s worse, this is where you make sure you feature your greatest achievements. And this candidate has missed their chance.
How do you prevent that? Take a look:
This summary is only one sentence longer than the previous example. Yet, the vibe is completely different.
This job applicant is:
- Knows what they are doing and has the experience to prove it
- Connected with key public figures
- Involved in charity and volunteer work
- Focused on their career development
Who wouldn’t want to hire them?
And if you’re writing a resume objective, make sure to mention how your experience relates to the job at hand.
Hiring managers want to know what made you career pivot. Especially if you’re coming from a different professional or academic background.
Your answer doesn’t have to be something long and convoluted. But you’ll have to get your point across. This will help you further down the road during the interview process.
How to refine the experience section of your psychology resume
The longer your work history is, the harder it would be to pick which parts to share. So keep in mind that you’re working with a limited amount of space.
You must fit everything within a single page.
How do you do that if the experience section is by far the largest one on a resume?
You use the correct formatting and phrasing. Each entry should have between 3 and 5 bullet points. Each summarizing your work contributions.
The best way to format the bullet points is to use the C-A-R method. The acronym stands for:
This will help you stay focused on the crucial details. And avoid overexplaining yourself. You don’t want to turn your resume into a research paper. Or worse, the DSM-5-TR.
Concentrate on your work’s results, not your duties and responsibilities. Remember to provide context and add data where possible.
2 psychology resume experience examples
Check out the sample below:
- Over 5000 young adults overcame addiction
- Decreased the cases of runaway children
- Introduced new CBT treatment methods
So many mistakes and missed opportunities!
Starting from the top, Luciano’s job title is a bit vague. He could have specified the type of counseling he does.
If your current job title isn’t as descriptive as the one above, there are two ways to fix this:
- Expand it. In Luciano’s case, he could have listed Group Counselor and Addiction Specialist.
- Detail your employer’s main business operations. A company description provides a good context when your job title can’t.
Keep in mind to include a corporate website. Usually employers display a portfolio of their work for brand representation purposes.
If you don’t have much experience or a personal portfolio website, this is a good way to show some of the work you do.
Last but not least in the list of mistakes, each experience entry needs to be rewritten.
The first entry is merely a statement. It doesn’t explain how Luciano was involved in the campaign. The result is there, but the context is missing.
The same goes for the second entry. Having fewer missing children cases is wonderful news.
Yet, how was the applicant involved? Did he do it single-handedly? How did he have access to these cases?
In contrast, the third entry highlights action taken. But it provides no context on why these new therapy techniques had to be introduced. Or how they were applied.
How can this experience section be improved?
Have a look at the sample below:
- Helped over 5000 young adults overcome addiction through individual and group therapy
- Partnered with local police department to decrease the cases of runaway children down to 5 cases per year
- Increased the organization's program completion rate to 89% by introducing new CBT treatment methods
What a difference, right? Luciano will certainly be getting an interview call with this entry!
Must psychologists include only soft skills on a resume?
Of course not!
Every job has its technical aspects. And as such, you must create a nice balance between hard and soft skills on your resume.
The ratio between the two will depend on the type of job you’re pursuing. If you’re gunning for a clinical or a research job, you may need to highlight tech tools you’re familiar with.
If the role is fixed towards helping struggling individuals, emphasize your social abilities.
How do you figure out the ratio though?
This is why we always recommend tailoring your resume to the job description. Carefully review what type of experience will be most valued in a candidate. As well as the accompanying skills.
Don’t forget, the most in-demand abilities will be closer to the top of the job description.
And if the role ad isn’t as descriptive, you may want to check the business website. Or reach out to company hiring managers and professional experts on LinkedIn.
How do psychologists reference their technical talents on a resume?
It’s difficult to describe your work when it revolves around confidential data. And you use most of your hard skills when:
- Conducting experiments and evaluations
- Handling and analyzing research data
So, how do you describe your hard skills without disclosing personal data?
Much like datasets in research papers, you must summarize. Feature the key findings and emphasize the impact and results of your work.
Just remember, hiring managers will always ask detailed questions about your technical talents. You may even get tested on some of them.
Don’t get tempted to include a skill only because it features on the job ad.
How to make your social abilities tell an impactful story
The trick with soft skills is that they are hard to measure. And employers want results, regardless of the industry.
But since you’re a psychology professional, you have the upper hand here. You’re the perfect person to put in words what many others find difficult to express.
The only catch is, you’ll have to think like a boss.
Employers want to see their business progress. They are all about opportunity, performance and revenue.
Make sure you speak their language.
Don’t know how? Here is how you do it:
Sure, the example listed in the first entry isn’t attached to a quantifiable result. Yet, it still displays personal character traits vital for the job.
As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words. Even if you don’t have related experience, sharing personal achievements like these matters.
Because they’ll prove that you have the mindset and the skills for the offered position.
So long as you have the desire to work in the psychology field, recruiters will consider your application.
But which soft skills are going to impress hiring managers? Take a look at the ones currently trending:
What role does your academic background play when job hunting?
A big one.
The level and type of your education will determine which positions are within your league. That is to say that you’re always capable of doing more than you think you can.
But acquiring a PhD in Psychology is very different from having a Psy.D degree.
While both are considered a doctorate degree, the requirements for completion are different. Both in the number of hours and type of work you must present to graduate.
Hence the available roles would vary. Counselors, therapists and clinical psychologists must be holders of a doctorate degree.
So pay close attention when reviewing job ads. Some of them may also demand a license in addition to your formal education.
But what if you don’t have a PhD or a Psy.D degree? You still have options!
You’ll be able to work in positions where you’re limited to applying general psychological principles. For example:
- Helping HR teams resolve workplace conflicts
- Organize team building activities
- Teach leadership and teamwork classes
Do you need to include certificates on your psychology resume?
It’s not a question of if. But of which certificates and licenses will make a bigger impact.
These will depend on your career development and job options.
You can always mention you’re working towards acquiring a specific license. Show you’re willing to grow your skill set.
Just don’t forget to check the validity of your documents before you add them.
What other sections would look good on your psychology resume?
Again, these will be determined on what the job description demands. If you’re going for a clinical or a research job, some of these would certainly get you noticed:
- Research papers and publications
- Association memberships
- State psychological associations
- Presentations and conferences
- Extra certifications and prizes
- Awards and honors
Yet, if you’re more interested in community management roles, the following are better:
- Tutoring and pro bono work
- Volunteer work
- Cover letter
- Relevant courses
Key takeaways: how to persuade hiring managers into hiring you
- Establish whether the job requires a CV or a resume
- Check employers’ file type preference before you start writing
- Review the job description and mark down what experiences and skills are considered valuable
- Make sure you include your job and license title in your resume header
- Boast your proudest moments in the resume summary
- Use the C-A-R method to highlight the benefits and impact of your work
- Strike a balance between your social and technical skills
- Confirm that your education and expertise match the job requirements