I’ve been updating my resume recently and thought it might be a helpful topic to cover if anyone is looking for improvement tips.
First thing that I found helpful when creating my own resume was understanding that the purpose of a resume is to have an easy flowing representation of yourself so a possible employer can quickly see if you’re worth their time. “Worth their time” sounds brutal but it’s the truth. You don’t know how many resumes are getting sent it and you need to stand out. If someone can look at your resume at a quick glance and decide they want to keep your resume for further investigation, then you’ve done your job right.
Obviously you need to have the credentials to get the job but format goes a long way. This is even if you’re just starting out and you might not have a lot of experience to list.
These are the basic sections I’ve used and have been recommended to me:
- Personal Information
- Academic Profile
- Selected Works
- Management Qualifications
- Job History
- Technical Skills
- Awards and Achievements
I’l try and provide a quick description of what each of these sections would contain…
This isn’t really a section as it is a headline. At the top of your resume you should include your name, address, phone number and e-mail. And make sure you choose a professional e-mail address, not one like beachbabe0231. You also want to make sure your name stands out the most… usually meaning bold and a lager size.
This section is where you can write a concise sentence (maybe 2) on what you are looking for. A typical example to format this would be:
To obtain a position in the field of ________ to build upon/to utilize my ______ and ______ skills/interests.
This is pretty simple. List your school, major/minors, GPA, and graduation date. Now this is one of those sections that could be retired one day. It might be nice to keep your school and degree but as college becomes years and years behind it probably isn’t necessary to keep your GPA, graduation date and things of that nature. This is a preference.
This is also a time sensitive section. It simply lists select classes that showcase apply to your work area.
If you’re in a field where you’d like to showcase your works this is an opportunity to list some projects. For example, I have a demo reel for some of the short films I created, so here I listed these projects here. I included the title of my shorts, my position, the date they were created and a short description.
Management Qualifications and Job History
I have put these two together because I would never suggest using them on the same resume. I would choose one or the other. Management Qualifications is a great chance to combine work and club/organization positions. For example, I combined my top two jobs related to my field and combined those with the leadership positions I had in my clubs and organizations. Job History is exactly what it sounds like, a list of the jobs you’ve had. It is important for both to list company/organization’s name, your position and the amount of time you were there (example: January 2010 - April 2012).
This is a quick and easy way to list out all the technical skills you have with different programs and equipment relating to the field you’re applying to. You can also list non-technical skills (such as communication time management, etc.) and certifications here as well. If you do I would reconsider your word choice for the title of this section… maybe Skills and Certifications… its up to you.
Awards and Achievements
Here you can simply list of no more than the top 5 awards and achievements you have been honored with. I say the top 5 because you don’t want over load. At the same time I don’t think 6 is going to make or break you if it’s a strong option. Make sure to list the title and the date on to which you were awarded or held the achievement.
You may want to include a few names, numbers and e-mails of people that you think would speak highly of you. Most of the time employers ask that your references are not the same as your past employer. I’ve included past advisers bosses from a job I did not list or are no longer with the company. Do make sure you ask permission to put these people on your resume before they get an unexpected phone call. This is not only to be polite and respectful but also so they don’t get caught off guard. You want them to be prepared with something great to say about you, not to have their first words be “Uhhhh….”
Interests can be a great addition to a resume that might need a little help to fill the page. It can also be a great conversation starter between you and a potential employer. They might see something they have in common with you and remember you for it later.
Hopefully this all makes sense and is useful for you. The overall format is up to your personal style. Graphic designers usually create something jazzy to stand out with their creative design, but most are simple black and white. Key things to think about is how you are going to separate your sections. Also choose your use of bold and italicize carefully. You don’t want your resume to look like a dalmatian with dramatic spots, but rather use it to draw the views eye where you want it. Also, another key piece of advice I was given was to put your strongest and most recent pieces on the top. For example, if you have help multiple positions in a club you might want to list your most important ones first even if the dates aren’t in chromatic order. Or maybe you want to list the multiple position you’ve help at your job starting at the top with your most recent, leading down to where you started. These choices can be important because it can be the difference from getting that second look over, or being put back into the big pile of other resumes.
Put your strongest presentation first, get past that first quick glance. Then they can later take the time to familiarize themselves with the your impressive details.