Summer is right around the corner and perhaps, you’re looking for a change of pace or a summer job. Anytime you’re applying for jobs, internships, schools, scholarships etc. you have to create that dreaded thing…your resume. Nowadays, especially for students, the resume is replacing the CV because having only one-page to look at is much easier for whoever will be judging you as an applicant. Yes, it’s unfortunate to reduce all of your awesome experiences down to one-page, but we can do it!
- Target Your Audience
Often, you are writing a resume because you have a specific job in mind. Take the time to research what position and location you are applying for. This will give you clues about what they are looking for in applicants. For example, if you’re applying for a university, look at what program you are interested in studying or the culture of the school as it is described on the website. If you’re applying for a job or internship, read through the company’s website.
Most importantly, read between the lines of the job description. This will tell you what kinds of skills or capabilities they need for the work in that position. For example, if the job description says, “Assist with writing newsletter articles, press releases, talking points, development materials, promotional items, etc,” you know to highlight your skills as a writer and editor in your resume!
- Create Your Brand
Now that you know what the employer or admissions committee is looking for, think about what makes you the uniquely best person to fill that need. Your personal brand is the way that you want people to think of you as a student or employee. If you’re applying for a position in a different country than where you are from, you already have a personal brand as a a motivated worker, who thinks outside the box and can bring a fresh perspective!
Take some time to list out all of the experiences you have that relate to the job description. Now step back and try to draw connections between your experiences. For example, let’s look at a list like this:
- Writer for my school newspaper
- Personal blogger
- Social media manager for local business
- Web design for my dad’s band
This person’s personal brand might be a strong original writer and web strategist for small businesses.
- Categorize Your Experiences
Take your list of experiences and begin to categorize them based on what your resume audience is looking for. Remember that your resume will be looked at very quickly so the more organized it is, the more that the reviewer will be able to learn about you in a short time. Your categories should be based on both your experiences and the specific skills your audience wants. For example, if the position for which you are applying requires foreign language knowledge, you would want (and always should have) a category on your resume that is labeled “Foreign Languages.” The three main categories that should always be included on your resume are:
- Work Experience
- Relevant Skills
Then within each of these sections, you can create sub-sections based on your specific skills and experiences, such as:
- Foreign languages
- Web Design
- Less is More
At this point, you’ve done some really awesome brainstorming and have come up with all of the evidence that makes you an ideal candidate for this opportunity. Even though this is exciting, we have to take a minute and remember that all of this information is going to fit on one normal-sized page! No matter how many great things you have done that might all be relevant to the thing for which you are applying, a big part of your resume is its presentation. Specifically this means that it should not be cluttered to the point where the reviewer cannot find your personal brand. Look at your list and categories and think about which experiences are most relevant to the position and show the most about of what you are most capable.
For example, although it would be nice to describe the time you volunteered at an animal shelter, if it was a short-term commitment, you did not have a leadership role and the position you are applying for does not involve animals, it doesn’t need to be taking up space on your precious one-page.
- Reverse Chronology
Another way to pick your most important and relevant experiences is to think about what you have done most recently. The structure of your resume should be in reverse chronology, or going from the present to the past. The top experience in each category should be the experience that happened the closest to the date you are applying.
This is especially important as you get older and gain more awesome life, academic and professional experiences. For example, once you are in your third year of university, you should not be listing experiences you had in high school (secondary school) on your resume.
- Don’t Assume
When your reviewer picks up your resume, they should be able to quickly understand where you were and what you did. This is especially important for international applicant as education systems and known organizations/companies vary from country to country. With each experience you list, you need to both describe what type of work it was in addition to what you specifically did. Often when I write my resume, I assume that the reviewer knows exactly what I’m talking about and so I forget to clearly explain.
For example, say that you volunteered at a place called One World Plants and spent your time teaching young children how to garden plants using seeds from all over the world. Your first bullet point should incorporate a brief description of the mission and purpose of One World Plants with your specific role that you played there. An example might be, “Worked one-on-one with young children to learn about the processes of planting seeds from around the world at this organization focused on bringing global awareness through sustainable agriculture.”
- Use Action Words
Notice how in our hypothetical role at One World Plants we started our sentence with the past tense action verb, “Worked.” For all of your descriptions of each experience, use these past tense action verbs to start each bullet point or sentence. Your resume shows what you can do and therefore this style immediately shows your reviewer what you have done in the past that can contribute to what you can do in the future!
Here is a link to “185 Powerful Verbs That Will Make Your Resume Awesome” that you can use when writing your resume: https://www.themuse.com/advice/185-powerful-verbs-that-will-make-your-resume-awesome
- Be Consistent in All Things
If you’ve been following all these steps, you should now have almost all of your content for your resume! You have your experiences, categories, timeline and descriptions and now, it’s time for the fun part: formatting and fitting it all onto one page 🙂 This often takes getting creative with the use of bullet points, italics, bold font, different size fonts, expanding your margins, playing with spacing etc.
There is no one correct way to format your resume, but my main word of advice is to be consistent. If you are going to put a job title in italics, put all of your job titles in italics. If you are going to bullet point all of your description sentences, bullet point ALL your description sentences. Here is a sample format for a resume section:
Here we have different formatting to distinguish the different important components of each experience:
- WORK EXPERIENCE= the experience category in caps lock
- Association for Children= the name of the organization in bold text
- New York, NY= the location of the position in regular font
- Childcare Intern= the job title in italics
- June 2014-August 2014= the timeframe of the experience in right-aligned italics
- Supervised a classroom of 4-5 year olds at the Starry Sky Childcare Center in Chelsea. = the first description, using bullet points, starting with a past-tense action verb, giving a description of where and what the organization way
In addition, notice the use of reverse chronology and the creation of a personal brand!
- Know your punctuation
You’re almost there! Now’s the time to put those finishing touches on your resume. Is everything necessary capitalized? Do you have periods at the end of each statement? Part of being consistent is making sure that all of your punctuation is the same and complete.
- Stand out!
Your resume is all about showing how awesome YOU are; so don’t be afraid to stand out! Start by putting your name really big at the top (and your contact information), so that your adoring fans can reach you. Then, read through all of your experiences and add details to emphasize the amazing things you’ve done. Bragging isn’t always welcome in conversation, but your resume is the perfect place to show off your accomplishments.
Inspired? Ready to start? Want some help? Click here!
If you’d like to see an example of my resume, send me an email!
I look forward to working with you to get that dream job, internship, scholarship…