For the next few weeks I will be doing a series for recent grads called Getting a Job. I want to cover things that are imperative to know going forward after graduation. Chances are you didn’t learn these things in school, and/or your career development center at school sucked.
The Resume: A 10 step crash course
1. One Full Page. Hopefully you’ve had some good internship opportunities during your time in college that you can put on your resume, but you still don’t have enough experience to merit your resume being over 1 page. If you’ve got over a page, you’ve got too much fluff (BS), if your under a page it looks like you have no experience. If you are under a page, be sure to add relevant school projects as experience. If you’re over a page, most recruiters won’t turn the page, plus staples snag the other resumes in the pile which makes your 2 pager annoying to begin with.
2. Bullet Points. No one wants to read a paragraph about you, so help make recruiters jobs easier. Think of bullet points as catchy headlines. You want them to jump off the page and make the reader get the idea, but also want to learn more (by calling you in for an interview).
3. Strong Action Verbs. Start your bullet points with an action verb, not “I.” When you say “Developed a comprehensive database to ensure…” the “I” is assumed, and Developed jumps off the page. In the example, “Developed” is a strong action verb, it says that you are proactive, yes, it could have used “Made” instead of developed , but Made is too passive. Use words like Monitored, Created, Examined, Coordinated, Collaborated, Maintained, and Managed.
4. Formatting. There are many ways to do this, and arguably none is better than the other as long as it looks good. Below is my preference.
Contact Info (can be on separate lines, or same, depends on space)
TITLE (Education, Experience,…)
Title/Role/Major Date -Date
Bullet Points (at least 4 per best/relevant experience, 3 or maybe 2 for less relevant.
5. GPA. As a general rule of thumb, if you made above a 3.0, put it on your resume. If not, don’t.
6. Affiliations. Chances are you were involved in organizations on campus and you volunteered. Include them, it looks great on a resume, that IS why you initially did them right?
7. Other/Interests. This is where you need to humanize yourself. If you made a 4.0 at Harvard and were super involved on campus, that’s great, but on paper you’re an overachiever without people skills that I don’t want to hire. However, if you tell me that you are an action sports junkie, or an accomplished ballet dancer that makes you a more interesting person that I would want to work with. Plus it provides great ice breaker conversation in interviews.
8. References. Don’t include this section on your resume, and especially don’t put “Available upon request,” that’s just stupid. If it’s not on there, and they want them, they will ask for them anyway. And if they are on there it’s rude to your references because you never know when or if to give them a heads up that a call is coming. Have a separate page that lists references when you go in for the interview. If they ask for it, you can provide it and give a heads up to your references.
9. Contact Info. You’re an adult. cooln3rd1986 isn’t going to cut it anymore. Try to get your name or initials from an e-mail service. If not, consider buying your name or last name as a domain and setting up free e-mail like Joe@yourelastname.com/.net/.us It is very simple to purchase (I prefer GoDaddy.com, be frugal there are always coupon codes for them, and avoid any extras, you just need the domain). Then read about Google Apps and sign up for free e-mail using your domain!
10. Edit Edit Edit. Your resume will always be a work in progress. Before you apply for jobs, send it out to as many (qualified) people as possible and ask them to critique it, not to pass it on. If no one says anything, that does not mean it’s good. Tell them to nit pick and be mean, but remember not everyone provides good advice, so don’t feel obligated to accept it all. You can even send it to me and I will be honest ( daniel at this domain.com). As a bonus, by doing this and asking for advice, you are building your network and can send it back to them and ask them for more help in finding a job!
I hope you found this crash course helpful, obviously I did not include everything, so if you have additional pointers please leave them. My resume is always a work in progress too!