O, Look! It’s Résumé Time!

1 Mar

Image Credits: Resume T-Shirt by BlackBirdTees

Today, jobs are hard to come by, and landing an interview has become quite competitive. Many college students or recent grads may find themselves needing to update that résumé they made as an exercise their junior year of high school (or needing to begin writing it in the first place). Here are some tips that will make your résumé polished and professional, along with examples of résumés gone wrong from JobMob.com:

1. Know your limits.
If you have 15-20 years of work experience under your belt, than it may be acceptable to have a more extensive résumé. Recent college grads, on the other hand, should limit theirs to one page. According to the Purdue Online Writing Lab, employers only take 35 seconds to look at the résumé. It is a little too self-promoting to assert that you deserve more time than that if you do not have much work experience.

Real-life blunder: A candidate in Maine submitted a nine-page cover letter followed by a four page résumé. Whew!

2. Stick with the traditional format.
Start with academics, and then proceed to include work history and applicable skills, followed by humanitarian work (a better way of saying volunteer work) if there is room. Keep the formatting simple and easy to read; don’t try to get too creative or liberal with it. Remember you want to provide a brief overview.

Real-life blunder: A candidate wrote his résumé as a play—Act I, Act II, etc.

3. Write your résumé in reverse chronological order, beginning with the most recent career-related achievements or accomplishments.
Note—career related. Keep the information on your résumé germane to the field in which you are applying.

Real-life blunder: Under “job-related skills,” a candidate applying for a web design job wrote “can function without additional oxygen at 24,000 feet.” Ok…
Another noted that he could “say the ABCs backward in under five seconds.”

4. Leave high school behind.
Unless you were accepted into a special honor society or were valedictorian, it is not necessary to include high school on your résumé, and you should omit high school completely after graduating college.

Real-life blunder: A candidate wrote on her résumé under achievements “nominated for prom queen.”

5. It’s all Greek to me.
Definitely leave out any involvement in a fraternity or sorority… please! Despite what your buddies may say, it does not help you appear well-rounded or more of a “team player.”

Real-life blunder—averted! : My PR Applications professor Barbara Nixon pointed out that you should explain any organization containing Greek letters, or else employers will most likely assume it is a fraternity or sorority. For example, I am a member of Phi Theta Kappa. It is an honor society, not a sorority!

6. Keep everything professional and classy.
This means e-mail, too! When presenting your contact information at the top of your résumé, it is helpful to also include your e-mail. However, make sure you use an address that will not embarrass you or make you seem downright unprofessional.

Real-life blunder: A candidate listed an e-mail address with quite the interesting username—“pornstardelight.”

7. Finally, have someone proofread your résumé.
As you may have learned in a composition class, even the slightest error can alter (not altar) the entire meaning of a sentence. Don’t fight the red squiggly lines! You want your résumé to appear polished. Too many errors may make it look like you rushed through creating your résumé, or they may just make you look incompetent.

Real-life blunder: A candidate wrote, “Am a perfectionist and rarely if if ever forget errors.” I think it is safe to assume that is not what she meant. Another wrote, “Answered phones, filed papers, responded to customer e-mails, and took odors.” Let’s just hope for his own sake that is not what he meant!

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4 Responses to “O, Look! It’s Résumé Time!”

  1. ertelg March 2, 2011 at 7:40 pm #

    Great blog! You have a lot of great things to say and very useful advice for all of us who are looking to find good jobs! It still makes me sad that all the extracurricular I did in high school will not matter in a year or so, but it gives us the experience that we need. I never thought about not putting something something about a frat or sorority, since we don’t have to worry about that at SEU. And to think people work SO hard to get in them and do work for them. Keep up the good work!

  2. acostadini March 27, 2011 at 3:21 am #

    Good blog and great tips! I loved how you put real-life blunders for every tip. That was such a great idea and extremely funny to read. Sometimes people amaze me. I really liked what you wrote about sticking with the traditional format. I was wondering if I should be creative in that area or not and I think I will just stick with the regular resume. Thanks for the tips!
    ~Ariana

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