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I don’t think I need to actually explain how important it is to have a bangin’ resumé. It’s like dressing the part for an interview or first date – it’s a no brainer. But not all resumés are created equal. On average, recruiters spend 5-7 seconds (yup, 5-7) skimming your resumé, which you likely hopefully pour hours into perfecting. But no succinct job descriptions or creative personal branding will overpower a poorly structured resume design; an HR rep won’t get past that.
I’ve done quite a few resumé workshops here at Penn, and I’m lucky enough to have some super savvy friends and family members who’ve helped me facelift my own thus far. But a disclaimer: I am by absolutely no means an expert, so pleasepleaseplease leave your own best resumé-crafting tips for me below!
Let’s walk through a basic resumé structure and some ideas for each section.
- Above the fold. “Above the fold” is a web-term, boiling down to everything that you first see upon entering a website, before you begin scrolling. So, let’s make “above the fold” of your resumé everything that is seen before Work Experience: your name, all contact info (i.e. address, phone number and email), and education. What’s your goal through their skimming process? To be remembered – and for good reason. Make your name pop front and center, because hey – this page is all about you! I recommend keeping it simple and clear, like this:
- Getting Educated on Education. Start your Education section with your most recent endeavor, whether that’s college or high school, and work your way downwards. I de-clutter by keeping all relevant dates in quick parentheses behind each statement. Add a short bullet after each school listing with a few important points, like your GPA, study abroad experience, and any awards or major accomplishments (like being Valedictorian in high school or receiving a Presidential scholarship).
- Work Experience. I’ve found it to be helpful structuring this with a similar mindset as Education: dates in parentheses, followed by a quick bullet(s) thereafter. Personally, I like including a little italicized blip to briefly describe the place of work, especially if it’s not as well-known of a company name. Why make your recruiter work more, right?
- The bullets. This is the meat of your resume, so make it snappy! I recommend keeping each work experience’s bulleted list of duties and responsibilities anywhere from 3-5 bullets, depending on your length of time there and relevance to the new job that you’re now applying for. Start each bullet with an action verb in the past tense, unless you’re still employed at your most recent place of work. Like Education, start at the top with most recent and work your way downwards through history. Don’t be afraid to leave out a job if it’s ultimately not relevant to your new work aspiration! But be open-minded; flipping burgers might not scream “I’m the next Public Relations superstar!” to an agency, but if you always flipped with a smile and were known for stellar customer service, you could bring that to your PR game!
- Extracurriculars. This only holds true for high schoolers and collegiate, since you won’t have room on your page after a few great job experiences! Include a few key activities that dually showcase your interests and your leadership abilities, with a little description of each club – again! – to keep your recruiter from guessing what the heck “Kite and Key Society” means. (Hint: It’s UPenn’s student-run admissions group – who knew??)
- Skills. This is not where you say that you’re proficient in Microsoft Office – that’s not unique nowadays! Try to pinpoint your strongest professional descriptors and order them accordingly. My “Skills” start with “strong written and oral communicator” and progress all the way to “enthusiastic team player.” Remember: if you can’t answer the question, “Tell me about a time you were _____,” don’t put it on the list!
Quick tips for success:
- Especially while still in high school/college, keep it to one page (one-sided). Your career hasn’t even officially begun, so don’t overdo it!
- Less is more. Resumé-crafting is literally that: a craft. While you want to do a great job conveying your skills, past experience, and abilities, it’s like a first date – you should still leave something to the imagination! Don’t feel the need to tell your whole story through one piece of paper. Instead, be ready to build off of it and nail that interview!
- Tell a story. If someone spend ~30-seconds scanning your resume, are they going to look up and have a good sense of who you really are and what you can bring to the table?
- Be honest and know your story – inside and out. Hopefully this goes without saying, but don’t lie on your resumé! Especially if you end up in the running for the gig, people will check and double check and triple check your background and references. And, know – and own – your story. Don’t risk embarrassment if anyone calls you up to ask about your most recent job; be ready to build upon your bulleted descriptive list, just like you would in an interview.
What’s your best tip for crafting a killer resumé?
In other news, you have 5 days left to win $$$ to 9th & Elm, 3 days left to win $$$ to Victoria’s Secret, 2 days left to win $$$ to Walmart, and oh yeah – I turned 21. See you on the flip side of my Green Tea Mojito. Meaning Friday. And until then, enjoy my very first Ipsy Unzipping!