So you’ve finished school…now what? Travel for a bit, go on to grad school, or start the ever nebulous job hunt. Now, that may seem terribly daunting, but if you’re prepared finding that perfect position isn’t impossible. First things first, you need a great resume.
The importance of a good resume
There are lot’s of things that make up a killer resume. Depending on the field you’re going into or the job you’re hoping to land there are countless aspects of your resume that need attention. For an employer, an applicant’s resume and cover letter are not only their first impression but also the only thing inspiring them, or stopping them, from scheduling an interview. It’s important to showcase your experience but more so to for shadow what you’re capable of. If you’re resume shows tangible successes, skills, and a pinch of personality-yours will go to the top of the employable pile.
Background on my resume
I made my first resume my freshman year of college and looking back, it is quite cringe worthy. However, it helped me land a handful of gigs. Making a resume is tough when you’re just starting out and don’t have a ton of experience but it’s definitely do able! I’ve helped a lot of my friends compose resumes and it’s all about piecing together the best information and presenting it in the best way. Even without experience you can include volunteer work, part time jobs, babysitting history and even scholarships you’ve received. A little extra attention to your vocabulary makes everything sound much more impressive than it really is.
Volunteered to clean up a neighborhood – say you were played a role in community improvement
Babysat for years – call yourself a nanny or refer to it as childcare experience
Worked at a retail store – call yourself an employee and customer service representative
Received a massive college scholarship – say you were an award recipient
When I first started out I had a couple of part time jobs, some hobbies, and a history of clubs. I added them all and started my first internship the spring of freshman year. Since then I have redesigned my resume a handful of times. I have a running CV with every little thing I’ve ever done and I tailor each resume based on what I need it for. Over the years I’ve not only racked up experience but I’ve also really honed my personal brand-both of which are reflected on my resume. I’ve taken anything I did pre-college off (unless it’s super important like my high school radio station or my time as a community art teacher). I’ve also gotten to a point where I can take quite a bit of my early experience off to make room for my most relevant positions. For the last year or so my resume design has stayed the same (including my personal logo, a specific color theme, and standard sections such as skills and profile) but within the last six months I have landed on a template that really works for me. It’s clean and organized yet still packed full of my work history. This can be seen on my resume page.
Tips for creating a great resume
- Edit your resume for each and every position: By adjusting your resume for the details of each position, you can highlight why you would be a great fit for the job and eliminate irrelevant things
- Proofread: Many employers will immediately toss out a resume at the first site of a typo. Plus, putting your best foot forward should not include misspelled words.
- Make sure it’s appropriate: If you’re applying for a data entry job, you don’t need to include a head shot. But, if you’re applying for a job in a creative field it’s encouraged to play with your design a bit or even add some color.
- Don’t say too much but don’t be vague: I like to keep each job description to a set number of bullet points (typically 3-4). That way you can include enough information but you don’t need to add unnecessary details
- Include tangible things like numbers and goals met: Be specific in what you achieved! Did you reach an impressive sales goal or grow social media accounts? Include those numbers! It’s also helpful to include things like readership (for journalists or content marketers) or attendees to events.
- Use cohesive language and punctuation: Make sure the entire resume is uniform. Either use bullets or full sentences but don’t flip flop between the two. Also make sure you stick to third or first person.
- Use active words: Instead of just vomiting up a job description, write what you actually did. Instead of “in charge of social media” say something like “Executed social media campaigns on all platforms”
Things to remember
- Keep your resume to one page. That’s just the standard and unless you’ve been working for decades you won’t need anymore space.
- Prioritize your resume content. The brain usually reads things in a Z formation starting from the top left, so should you include pertinent information near the top left (like your name and contact info). Also list your experience and accomplishments not only in chronological order but also order of importance.
- Hiring managers and recruiters will generally only look at your resume for about 7 seconds before making a decision to toss it or read further (then they will only spend about another 20-30 seconds on it). Make sure yours will be one that stands out in the pile. Use some color, distinctive header, or logo if you have one. But also make it clean and organized with enough white space for the brain to process the words on the page.
Your resume isn’t the end of the road. Your resume shows your experience and your cover letter shows who you are and what you can offer, but those two things only get you in the door! Check back for more posts on interview tips and how to create your own professional portfolio.