More Art Than Science

I have been working at career services for 2 and a half weeks. One of the main services Career Services provides is resume critiques. These past few weeks I have shadowed various professionals helping current students and recent graduates with their resumes. There was a veteran student looking for full time work, a recent graduate looking for research opportunities, and a student who was looking for a career change. One thing that I can say is that no one resume critique is the same. Besides a few things that stay continuously constant, such as always including your name, address, and telephone number, every resume is different. Overall I have learned that a resume is more “art than science”. What does this mean? That there is no scientific formula on how to create your resume. There are many ways to tailor it to your specific needs and there is no concrete solution. You and your friend could have the same major, be involved in the exact same activities, and have the same job experience, but can end up with two very different resumes. Here are some other things I have learned since I have been at career services, some may seem obvious, but hopefully some will be helpful to you.

1. The PROVE IT method. Many times on a resume a person might write something such as “I assisted with the school’s annual fundraiser” as one of their bullet points on their resume. But what does this tell the potential employer? Not much. You need to elaborate. You assisted by doing what, handling customer questions, giving out brochures, etc. Also what was the outcome? Did your school raise a significant amount of money, if so quantify. Numbers jump out on a resume. This is what has been termed the prove it function. Do not just list what you did; explain what skills you used to do it and how it was successful.

2. Be Top Heavy. Everyone has heard that the amount of time spent on a resume is at maximum a half a minute. To use this to your advantage make your resume top heavy, that means putting the most important experience on top because that is what the employer will see first. So for example your first bullet should be where you put your most important, significant, and relevant job experiences and skills. This will be the first thing the person reviewing your resume will see, once he or she reaches the 3rd bullet point their eyes will start to scan instead of actually reading.

3. Action Verbs. You want to start off every bullet you have with an action verb. It grabs the hiring manager’s attention and gives them a clear view of what you actually did. The use of verbs like organized, developed, analyzed, and coordinate can be very powerful.

4. Delete the Fluff. Typically, if you are an entry level employer your resume will be one page. Do not waste this space. It is very important, and you need to fill it with experiences that are relevant to your job or internship search. So even if you might be extremely proud that you won your town’s annual pie eating contest it has nothing to do with that Accounting internship you are applying for. So delete the fluff. High school education, irrelevant experiences, and personal interests have no place on a resume.

5. Style Matters. When creating your resume you should make it a point to keep the formatting style neat, clear, and organized. Human resources are reviewing a lot of resumes per job, so you want to make sure yours will not be difficult to read. A cluttered, messy, and unorganized resume can land straight in to the no pile. So have someone else read your resume and see if it they can read it easily. This can help you determine if your font is too small, if you need to reorganize or even fix your margins.

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