You know you need one, but why is it so hard!? We’re talking about the resume, of course. There’s something about boiling down your experience into one or two pages that gives even seasoned professionals a case of writer’s block.
Take It Down to Basics
- Personal information: your name, address, phone number and/or email address. Employers are not entitled to ask about your marital status, age, religion, cultural background or political affiliation.
- Career Objective: helpful when you’re just starting out, but not essential. The objective statement sums up the type of position or career you are looking for.
- Skills/Qualifications: also helpful when you’re just starting out, especially in a functional style resume.
- Education: start with your most recent attainment level. If you’re not quite finished your program, include your expected graduation month/year.
- Experience: work experience, including part-time, summer jobs and internships. If you don’t have a lot of experience, include volunteer experience or extracurricular activities that demonstrate leadership skills, responsibility, teamwork, etc.
- Other: include any scholarships & awards, presentations, conferences, memberships and certifications.
- Interests: not essential, but if you do include interests, keep them professional. “Partying” may sound funny, but it won’t appeal to a prospective employer.
Showcase Achievements, Yes – Exaggerate, No
Writing a resume is about balance. On the one hand, you want to show a potential employer that you have the education, skills and attitude he or she is looking for, and you want to stand out from the crowd. If you downplay your experience and skills, you might get overlooked. On the other hand, you don’t want to sound like you’re exaggerating—this can lead to a backlash.
There is a happy medium. You definitely need to showcase your achievements and talents, but you also need to be honest. It’s okay to brag, it’s not okay to exaggerate.
If you’re stuck, seek help. High schools usually offer resume writing resources. You might also ask at your local library, regional college, employment agency or community/band office. The internet is a huge resource for advice, templates and samples—Google “resume tips”
And Then There’s the Interview
Sending out your resume and getting called for an interview is something to celebrate. It means you impressed the potential employer, and now they want to meet you. Employers look for several things during the interview.
- Self confidence: good attitude, head up, eye contact, well-groomed, appropriate dress
- Good communication skills: speak clearly, show interest, know what you want to say, be willing to answer and ask questions
- Well prepared: do your homework about the company, know its key projects, products, services and competitors, read latest news items on company