Writing Resumes

posted in: Paperwork, People 0

The internet is full of templates on writing resumes, and every field seems to have its preferred formats. Still, there are some tips that apply to just about every resume.

  • The resume (and cover letter) are how you get an interview, not how you get a job.This is your chance to make the recruiter think that you look interesting enough for an interview.
  • Tell your story in a positive light, as your mom or best friend would tell it, without sliding into falsehoods (even by implication). If you get the interview, the interviewer shouldn’t be surprised when you start talking; if they are, they will wonder about the rest of your resume. Don’t say you know a lot about cars if that means you watched your buddy take his truck’s engine apart – you may get caught out by a car nut.
  • Similarly, don’t use a ghost writer; write your resume and cover letter yourself. It should sound like you, not someone else. Use all the help you can get, but use your own words. (If you must use help, don’t pull language off the internet – recruiters will probably recognize it. Find someone who knows what they are doing.)
  • If you are emailing a resume, especially if you have any formatting beyond returns, save it as a pdf first. That is the only way to be sure that it will look the way you think it does.
  • Include references if they are required or if one of yours is well-known in the field or locally. Otherwise, take them with you to the interview.
  • Always have some else proofread it! Misspelled words or poor grammar will count against you, even if the recruiter can figure out what you mean.

Recruiters are generally looking for a logical timeline of events, including education, experience and qualifications. A coherent story helps them make sense of your application. The resume should show consistency and some attention to overall layout. Beyond that, they are looking for an application that stands out in some (positive) way; if nothing else stands out, use good paper.

Writing a resume is never easy, but young adults have some additional challenges because they don’t have a workplace track record to showcase.

  • Resist the temptation to pad your resume. Recruiters will expect you to not have a long employment history, and it is ok.
  • Keep your resume to one page until you have a lot of experience.
  • List volunteer work and extracurricular activities – they can show commitment, leadership, perseverance, and the ability to work with others. Highlight them if they are related to the job. Explain briefly why they are relevant.
  • Include awards if they are meaningful and/or applicable. Making the Dean’s List is good, having the best cake in your culinary class isn’t – unless you are applying to work in a kitchen, in which case you should show it off (tastefully).
  • If you don’t already have a proper email (not cute or wild), then get one – and check it regularly while you are job-hunting. You can forward it to your usual account if that makes it easier. Be careful to use that same account when you email a recruiter; it is easy to use the wrong one.
  • Similarly, check your voice mail message to make sure it gives the impression you want. Check your messages promptly when you get them.