Tips for Resumes

Before you click away because facing the professional world is dangerous, I have some questions for you: Do you have a resume? Have you gotten it reviewed? If you said no to one of these questions, then, this may help you.

A resume is the Sparknotes to who you are. Generally, resumes get 15-30 seconds of consideration which should make you wonder, what is the point? The point is, you have 15-30 seconds to get someone interested in you. Typically, resumes get you the interview and the interview gets you the job. If you want that job/internship/co-op/organization position, consider some of these points:

1. Do NOT use a template

I know this sounds counter-intuitive. It’s kind of like baking a cake without a recipe. You don’t need a pre-set template to start a resume. With the use of a word processing program, you can format your resume with some key controls: margins, font size, bold, and indentations. These are the ingredients. So, go make your cake. Ready, set, pause. Some things to note before you make your name a size 36-font are, the lowest margin size is 0.5 x 0.5, font size should be 10-12, and make sure there isn’t a lot of empty space. Now, go!


2. Professional headshot 

Throughout your years you may have heard that you need a great professional headshot. So, you get one and then ask: what am I going to use this for? Professional headshots are great when you are active on social networks such as LinkedIn or when certain applications require it. Regardless of whether you use that headshot so your face is staring back at you when you send your emails, remember, do NOT put a professional headshot on your resume. Reason being, this may lead to discriminatory bias. Plus, it takes up a lot of room on the resume.

3. Some pointers about bullet points

Bullet points are the creme-de-la-creme. They talk about what you did in a particular position whether paid or non-paid. A lot of individuals have difficulties formatting their bullet points because they get too wordy or they don’t have enough words. When it comes to writing bullet points, its helpful to format it with an action verb followed by a task followed by a result. Do you follow?

The action verb helps set the stage. What did you actually do? Did you manage a team? Collaborate with others? Tutor individuals? Counsel someone? With action verbs, avoid mimicking the position. For instance, if your position was a volunteer position, don’t start off one of your bullet points with volunteeredWe get it, you volunteered. Something like that is already implied. Similarly, don’t state that you worked. We get it, you were a cashier. So, you worked.

The task describes what you actually did. For instance, it describes the population you worked with and your role/responsibilities. In this area, you can also mention some of the skills you utilized. Examples include, communication, interpersonal, and critical thinking skills. Go beyond: I pressed buttons to make the cash register open. Or, I swept the floors. Or, I worked with this software program. Or, I spoke with patients. Paint a picture of what you were tasked to do or tasks that you did that weren’t explicitly stated in the position description.

Results answers the question: what was the point? Task= what? Result= so what? Why is what you did relevant? A major part to answering this question is reflection. For example, your volunteer work may have simply been filing documents at a local clinic. What’s so important about putting away patient files? A lot, actually. This may have looked like increasing production, demonstrating the ability to follow HIPPA, or helping with the ease of patient file retrieve. Have you been in a clinic that utilizes folders that maintain x-ray films, signed documents, etc. and it take an excessively long time to retrieve it? Hopefully not. But, why? Thanks to the organization done by employees/volunteers.

Bullet points are what you make it. Don’t get caught up in the jargon you used in that position. Speak in lay terms and tell us a story. A clear and concise one.

4. All experience is relevant

Google Logo

I know what you’re thinking. How will being a dishwasher at a local Mom & Pop restaurant help me work at Google? Answer: I’m not exactly sure, maybe you should reflect on that. The idea of getting a “normal” job is often times scary. It seems like a waste of time. Seems like it won’t help you achieve your goals. And, in all honesty, you just work there for a paycheck. Humble yourself. There are skills you can gain from every experience in any position you have had. Take the time to truly reflect on what you learned and how you can utilize the skills gained and apply it to the position you’re applying to. For instance, maybe your ability to avoid burnout when cleaning thousands of dishes can help you avoid burnout when a million things are being thrown at you in a constantly changing high-tech company. Think about it.

5. Review and revise

Regardless if you think your resume is the best resume, get your resume reviewed. It always helps to get a second opinion. This could be your friend’s friend, your neighbor, a guidance counselor, a career center (if your in school), or a colleague (ex. supervisor). Get your resume reviewed and utilize books and online resources to help you through the process. Then, revise where need be.

There is no right way or wrong way of creating resumes. It really is up to you and your style. Just make sure you start off on the right foot by letting your resume showcase a part of you. Happy resume building.

Disclaimer: The above information is based on my training and experience reviewing resumes. This may vary based on country, university, programs, job requirements, etc.

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