Getting a Job: The Resume

14 08 2008

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,…)

COMPANY/SCHOOL                                                                                Location

Title/Role/Major                                                                                 Date -Date

  • Bullet Points (at least 4 per best/relevant experience, 3 or maybe 2 for less relevant.
  • Bullet Points…

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  It is very simple to purchase (I prefer, 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  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!

How I Impress Older Coworkers

4 04 2008

Coming out of college and entering the working world wasn’t much different from the transition between high school and college. As a high school senior I was a big fish in a little pond, I was awesome…then I graduated and quickly became little fish in the big pond of college. Now as a freshman in the working world I am once again a little fish in a big pond. Being back in this situation was intimidating, until I realized that my coworkers encourage me to learn more, and most are more than willing to facilitate the process, which is a drastically different attitude than my classmates had in college.Most of my coworkers are at least 10 years older than I am, and that puts me at an advantage. You see many of them had somewhat written me off as not understanding everything that I was doing, and while this was true and I did need help (who doesn’t?), I was able to amaze them away with 2 little things I keep up with.

1. I read the Wall Street Journal everyday. It is, hands down, the best newspaper around, and no one expects someone in their early 20’s to be reading it. Reading the Journal daily allows me to stay up to date on a variety of issues ranging from business to politics. Mary and I frequently inform our co-workers and bosses of things that are occurring in the industry in which we work, from bankruptcy of competitors to new concepts, and we can do this because we read everyday. It makes us look good that we not only know this relevant information, but that we are the one’s informing our superiors of it. It also allows me to preface talking points with “there was a great article in the Wall Street Journal the other day…”

2. I Polish my work. In many cases presentation is more important than content. If you know how to make boring things look more appealing then you are less likely to get questioned. Case in point, I maintain many spreadsheets at work, I also hold all of the backup information for them. No one has questioned me for backup information on the spreadsheets that are well laid out, easy to read, and easy on the eyes. However, I have been questioned numerous times on spreadsheets where I have made a formatting error, or it just isn’t as pretty. After I provide the backup (which proves me correct) I am told to fix the formatting. The bottom line is that if it is ugly, the content matters more, and having something pretty creates the illusion of credibility. As I said in yesterday’s post, that illusion becomes reality.

These two little things are simple to do allow me to stay at the top of my game and continue impressing those who I work with.

Edit: JRandom pointed out that I made it look like I might be trying to put one over on my boss.  I would like to clarify by stating that I never submit anything unless I have double checked all of my work.  I definitely understand the concept that you can’t polish crap, and I don’t, but I was trying to state that appearance and polish seems to give an extra level of credibility.