In your academic and professional career you will NEED to develop a resume and a curriculum vitae (often referred to as CV). Most people know what a resume is, if you do feel free to skip ahead to the tips section. If not, its okay! I recommend reading on.
A resume is a document which incorporates your skills, abilities, education, and experience. You will need to develop a resume in order to get a job, most places these days require a resume along with the application you fill out for employment.
Whether you are applying to a job at a restaurant, coffee shop, or as CEO of a major corporation chances are you will need a resume, and the resume itself is an important part of your job search. The resume acts as the first impression with your potential employer. It is the first thing they see and therefore can be the deciding factor in getting the interview.
Here are some tips on writing a resume.
- Two things to keep in mind. Readability and relevance!
- Keep it simple and stay professional. Stay away from fancy fonts, logos and lettering. You want the information about you to be clear and concise. Your name up top, along with other contact information like address, phone number, and email. Make sure you have a professional email with your name and last name, and not the first email you ever made like email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Don’t clutter your resume, as already stated. Keep it Simple and Readable!
- Use keywords. “Power language,” or effective vocabulary when describing your job experiences. So have a thesaurus.com tab open! It comes in handy.
- Tailor resume to the position you are applying for. This is were relevance comes in. When describing your skills make sure they align with the requirements of the job description. Each resume you make should be different for every job you apply for.
- When writing on employment/experiences don’t flood the paper with every job you have ever had. Put down the jobs/experiences which align with the job you are applying for. Keep jobs that you have worked the longest at, because it shows consistent employment.
- PROOFREAD, PROOFREAD, PROOFREAD! Have someone you trust take a look at your resume. You may miss something. Having another pair of eyes take a look can catch that typo that your potential employer will catch.
- Lastly, do your homework. Research the company you are applying to. Look at their hiring processes, and what they look for in their employees. It is good to know some background because if you get the interview they might ask something regarding their company/institution/agency/ or wherever you are applying to experience in.
Try to keep it at a page, but depending on your experience it can be 2 pages. Remember we want it to be short and simple. Employers take about 7 to 10 seconds looking at a resume. You want yours to stand out.
Now for the actual tofu of the resume. You want to divide your resume into sections in order of importance.
Objectives? Should you include an objective at the top of your resume? Don’t know what I am talking about? Good! Don’t use them. Using objectives at the top of your resume is outdated. They don’t hurt, but they are not very useful either. You want to be expressing your skills, abilities, education and experience in your resume.
Depending on where you are applying to and your experience you may want to put your education up top or at the bottom. Like I said, it depends. Use your judgment. If you have more experience in the work field and not so much education wise then put it at the bottom.
When writing about your education, put your most recent first and list from there. So, include the degree itself, University, location, and the date or future date of completing the degree. For instance. Me! I am currently in a MA program. Here is how my section looks like on my resume.
As my resume has grown I have limited myself to using only sing my BA , and now I will just include my MA in progress.
You may notice how I put the the degrees in bold, and italicized the institutions where I obtained the degree. This is done to catch the readers attention as they skim through the resume.
Also, depending on the job you applying to you may want to leave some of your education out. You may be too overqualified for working at a shop at the mall or restaurant. I have a friend who graduated from Berkeley with a degree in Music and he could not find a job because he was too overqualified. When I am looking for a summer job I usually aim for Japanese restaurants since I have the most experience in these. I don’t always include my educational accomplishments.
Next, skills and abilities.
Here you want to list skills you think are applicable for the position. Usually bullet points where you briefly describe and emphasize your employable skills. These include communication, interpersonal skills, analytical skills, computer and technical skills, multicultural awareness and sensitivity, adaptability and leadership skills.
Here is an example of my skills:
And now! For the experience.
You want to list your experience by the most recent and most relevant according to the job you are applying for. You wouldn’t list that job you held that summer when you dressed in an apple costume and handed out apple soda to a teaching position right? Riiight.
List the position you held/hold, the company you worked for, the location, and the dates.
Over the summer I was looking for a restaurant job, since I have much experience serving, hosting, taking food orders and working cash registers. I wanted to tailor my resume to include all my experience doing this sort of work. Here is how it looked like:
As you can see, the position at my past jobs are in bold. As the reader skims the page, they will notice these right away. Not only do I describe what I actually did at the jobs like clean and take food orders, but actually described certain skills like using interpersonal communication skills to satisfy customer needs. You want to do this so it shows the employer that not only can you clean and set tables but also use your others types of skills which can be applicable for the position your applying to.
Remember to list and describe in relevance to the position you are applying to.
Lastly, references. Should you include them in your resume? Well this also depends on where you are applying to. Usually the employer will ask you for references, so add them on another page and bring in them into the interview if asked. Since your resume can have a lot of information, the references can take up a lot of space. Usually within the cover letter it is stated that you will be providing references upon request, so adding them on your resume is not very necessary.
Feel like you do not have anything to put on your resume? I’ve had the same problem. I could not find a job until I was 21 years old. It was hard because I had no experience and since I had no experience no one would hire me. Countless interviews. Countless rejections.
It can get tough, but do not give up! There are ways around this.
It is all about how you word it. You want to sell yourself.. essentially.
At the time what I did not know was that I have had a lot of experience, I had been a babysitter, a tutor, interned at a community family center, been active in my local church youth group as a leader.
It is just a matter of how you “sell” yourself. Selling your skills and abilities that is.
- degrees attained
- teaching experience
- published articles, books, essays
- employment background
- membership to professional associations
- positions held like on committees or boards
- community/volunteer involvement
- + much more!
The resume and CV are very similar actually but a CV can be long, I’m talking 20 pages long, and their format is a little different.
A lot of the same things still apply to the CV as they did for the resume. The top were your name and information goes, keeping it simple, and bolding and italicizing in appropriate places as well if you are using bullet points. Remember Relevance and Readability!
Unlike the resume, on the CV you do not necessarily have to describe everything you did in detail. A quick sentence should suffice. Along with the position you held, the place/company, location and date.
Also, the bottom of a CV you do include references.
Last note.. Don’t do any of this during your job interview!
My last tip is to make a Master List. Make document where you write everything, all the experience you have done. That way when making a new resume you can copy & paste the relevant experience in accordance with the job you are applying for.
Writing and updating Resumes/CV is not an easy task, and your first few might need a lot of editing. But do not be discouraged and do not give up! Seek professional help at your school’s local career center, ask your professors to look it over as well as your friends.