Résumé writing is not simply putting all of your achievements and jobs on a piece of paper and presenting those to a potential employer or an admissions officer. It should be the delicate and painstaking craft of showing what value you bring to their company or their program. It should be the craft of marketing yourself to a company or program, showing them that they won’t be taking a gamble if they hire you. A résumé that simply lists off your past jobs and descriptions of those jobs is not going to roll heads at any HR department, neither will a résumé that is clearly trying too hard by listing every single thing the applicant has ever done.
That being said, there is a way to write a résumé that will garner attention from employers and admissions officers alike. It requires a keen sense of what they are looking for, what you can bring to the table, and what your competition is like.
The length of a résumé can determine whether or not the person reviewing it takes it seriously. Chances are, the reviewer will be looking at many résumés for a single position, and giving them more work to get the full low-down on a candidate is not a good way of winning their affection.
If an applicant hasn’t graduated college or has very recently graduated college, and their résumé is more than a page long, then it is very unlikely it will be reviewed in total, and it is unlikely the candidate will be taken seriously. Similarly, a résumé should never be less than a page long, and be allowed to exist with dead space at the bottom. Even if it is just done by increasing the size of the font, the page should be filled by work, education, and skills.
A one-page résumé is all that is required for any entry-level application, and it should summarize experience, education, and skills from a relatively recent time-frame. A recent college graduate should have neither that they were the president of their high school debate team, nor that they were accepted to a week-long pre-college summer seminar during their junior year of high school.
The “Work Experience” section of any résumé should not only show the title of the job, name of the employer, location of the employer, and the time employed, it should also include a bullet-point or two showing what value the candidate added while in that position. Many applicants will simply list a description of the things they did while working at the company. This is not good résumé writing.
These bullets underneath a job title should not be job descriptions, but rather points showing what value the candidate added to the company during the span of their time there.
For example, this is incorrect:
— Organized and managed events with corporate partners and the community.
–Worked closely with coworkers, superiors, and community members.
This doesn’t tell your reader anything, other than the fact that you had a job as an events manager. Chances are they know what events managers do, and if they do not, they’ll ask you in the interview phase, anyway.
This is better:
— Streamlined event calendar processing system, improving efficiency by 50%
— Doubled annual community outreach gala attendance through paid marketing campaigns and direct mailing
This tells the reader that you actually added value to the company, can take initiative, and learned something from the position.
Most any résumé should have a skills section, detailing with which skills the applicant is proficient or fluent. It should show what kinds of skills the applicant can bring to the employer the minute after walking in the door. This means it should detail real, learned skills, like proficiency in Adobe Photoshop or with a programming language or copyediting, and not big-picture skills like, “people skills,” or basic, almost-universal skills like proficiency with Microsoft Office.
This should show what the applicant can do without requiring new training, and should be a high-impact section of the résumé.
All-in-all, the résumé should tell the employer that it would not be a mistake in hiring you, and that you won’t require a large amount of on-the-job training before you can start working. Without these ideas taken into account, there’s a good chance your résumé will find its way to the bottom of the stack.