WHAT IS A RESUME? AND WHY DO I NEED ONE?
- Your resume has only one function: to initiate a conversation with an employer.
- It is a simple, clear, concise document that shows that you have the basic education, skills and experience to qualify you for a specific job.
- One resume does NOT fit all. Every field is different. Every applicant is different. A generic resume does not help you. Your resume can only reflect you and your experience.
- There is no cookie cutter way to write them. So get help! The challenge is to effectively put your experience into the context of the employer.
- It must be technically perfect. No errors.
- It must present information that is specific to the reader.
- It must be organized in a way that easily guides the reader through your education and experience and addresses the needs they have for someone to successfully work for them.
HOW DO I BEGIN WRITING MY RESUME? Get help: There is no generic resume that fits all needs. Every professional field is different. Each has nuances to the language, style and examples they use that are credible. Find someone who can help you craft a document that is the most appropriate to your field and effective for your job search. Clarify what you want to do: You must know what you want before you can write your resume. Not the title of your next job but the function, behaviors and lifestyle that will be satisfying to you. Think about the skills you wish to use next, the issues you wish to address, the type of colleagues and clients you wish to work with every day, and the environment that will give you energy. After clarifying those needs THEN you will be ready to write a resume. Use a career counselor to clarify your story. Focus: The resume is about you but written for the reader. What do they most need to know about how you fit into the position they are seeking to fill? This is putting your experience in their context. Use language that reflects the work you are going to do not what you did in the past.
- What education, skills and experiences are they seeking?
- Can you demonstrate through your skills and experience that you have what they are seeking?
- Write clear, concise, active, quantifiable descriptions of your experience using bullet points.
Length: This can vary between fields but one page is typical for undergraduates. Some fields, like the hard sciences, teaching and the fine arts require a CV or curriculum vitae or simply a longer resume to accommodate relevant experiences.
WHAT IS IN MY RESUME? Identifying information or How will they find you? The following information is placed at the top of your resume. Remember that the resume is of no use if people can’t find you!
- your full name;
- your current and permanent address (if applicable)
- phone numbers (including area codes and designating a cell phone)
- email address (make it professional and permanent)
- web or blog sites if they are professional in nature
Objective or Why are YOU getting this resume? You do not need an objective on your resume. Your cover letter will do a better job of putting your resume into the context of the employer.
Related Experience or What have you done that prepared you for this job or internship? Organize your experience so that it is easy for the reader to discern the experiences from your past that are most related to the position for which they are considering you. To help the reader, group all of your paid and unpaid experience relevant to the position you seek together in group. Related Experience means that it is related to the employer and position. You can be even more specific with the title of this section (e.g. Media Experience, Research Experience, Teaching Experience, Finance Experience, Business Experience, etc.) if your experience allows you to cluster it around a skill or topic.
Education or How have you prepared academically for this job or internship? Begin with your most recent educational experience and work backwards. You should include…
- Degree with major(s) NOTE: you can only receive the Bachelor of Arts degree from DePauw University. Even if you are majoring in a science. DePauw does not grant the Bachelor of Science)
- Name of university, city, state
- Date of graduation (only the year unless you are a December grad)
- Minor, if applicable;
- GPA (cumulative);
- Significant Coursework (optional) - include if your work experience is limited and you want to emphasize specific courses, special assignments and/or research projects which directly support your objective. The general guideline is to list 4-8 courses. Refrain from listing courses that can easily be inferred from your major, minor or degree.
Other Experience or What else have you done that is interesting but not directly on point for the reader? Again, to help the reader, you are grouping other interesting and helpful experiences that are not directly on point for the employer together in a category. You do not need to provide full descriptions but rather pick out the one or two skills you used that are most relevant to the employer.
Ideas about your experience…
- Paid vs unpaid: No one cares if you were paid or not for your experience. For most college students the most sophisticated and responsible positions have often been unpaid.
- Think about your summer jobs, campus jobs, volunteer experiences, co-curricular activities, sports, music, etc.
- Use strong, effective action verbs to describe your job responsibilities, accomplishments and skills.
- Use numbers to quantify results or responsibility (i.e. state number of people you supervised, size of budget you oversaw, percentage of sales you increased). Give readers a sense of scope, pace and volume of your work.
- Work experience is important at this stage of the game; don't omit jobs like waiting tables, lifeguarding, babysitting, working in construction, painting houses, etc. They speak volumes about your work ethic, interpersonal skills, problem solving, and teamwork.
- If you have worked to pay your college expenses, be sure to indicate the percent of school expenses you earned. Appropriate action verbs include "financed," "earned" and "paid for.”
Activities and Honors
- Placement of this category is determined by relevance to the job or internship you are considering
- .This section is very important to most employers!
- Being involved in extracurricular activities shows that...
- you have had to successfully budget your time
- you possess a wide variety of interests
- you have leadership potential
- you have earned recognition (awards, honors, titles, etc.) for your efforts.
- Rank your activities and honors according to which best support your job objective or demonstrate your ability to take positions of leadership and responsibility. If you have participated in many extracurricular activities, you may want to include only those that are most relevant to the type of work you seek.If you have held an elected or appointed position, make sure you include your title. You may also want to include a brief description of responsibilities and accomplishments.
Include dates where appropriate. Be consistent throughout the section.
Miscellaneous and Special Categories
- What other cool and important things does an employer need to know about me?
- Special Skills: examples include computer literacy, fluency and ability to read and write foreign languages. Location is determined by relevance to the career objective;
- International travel;
- Professional Associations;
- Licenses and certifications;
- Interests: include if space permits.
- What do other people say about me and my work?
- References are not appropriate on your resume.
- You may provide a list of names, addresses, phone numbers and emails on a separate page with your contact information at the top.
- If employers want references in different form they will ask you.
ORGANIZING YOUR INFORMATION Think carefully about how to best present your skills and experiences to an employer. You can choose how to organize your information so that it is to your best advantage. Keep in mind that you are trying to make this as easy as possible for the reader! Resume styles that work well for recent graduates are:
- Reverse Chronological
- Functional Skills
1. Reverse Chronological:
- Experience is organized in reverse chronological order, beginning with your most recent experience. Dates are displayed after the names and locations of employers. Emphasizes your recent or current job(s) and experience(s). This approach is most appropriate if you have limited pertinent experience or if your most recent work experience is closely related to the type of job you are seeking.You list your job title, name of employer, location of employer, year(s) of employment. A description of your skills and experiences is place under this information in a bullet-point list.
2. Functional Skills:
- Work experience is arranged in order of importance, regardless of chronological sequence. Names of employers are usually subordinated to job title or function, unless employer has an impressive reputation. Dates are inconspicuous.
- The best way to describe your work experience is to categorize each experience by labeling the function first (i.e. Program Designer, Research Consultant, Fraternity President). Each function is then briefly addressed by detailing responsibilities held, actions taken, and achievements or accomplishments attained.
- This approach is useful if you have work experience or job titles which pertain to the position being sought, but are not necessarily your most recent experiences. Focuses on your skills and abilities as opposed to when, where or how you acquired them.
- De-emphasizes dates, job titles and names of employers. Ignores whether your skills were developed in employment or extracurricular activities.
- This approach may be appropriate when the actual skills you've developed are more impressive than your job titles, employers or length of experience. However, make sure you do have these skills and that you have good evidence of them.
- Examples of skill headings or categories include: Communication; Leadership; Organizational; Quantitative; Computers/Information Systems; Training and Development; etc.
3. Electronic Resumes and Portfolios:
- An electronic resume is not just a PDF version of your resume. It is a new way to present your education, experience and work product. For example check out www.visualcv.com.
- The electronic platform provides you with a new way to expand on what would typically be listed in a hard copy resume. It is not limited by length or style. Most importantly, it can include examples of your work product.
- Tips for writing your resume:
- Be flawless. No mistakes. Ask for help proofreading. Read it backwards.
- Never use personal pronouns. It is obvious the document is about you.
- Be consistent with verb tense, abbreviations and construction throughout the document
- Be honest describing your experience.
- Use Microsoft Word. Not a preset program.
- Use Times New Roman 11 point font.
- Use ¾ to 1” margins all around-use white space generously. Make it easy to read.
- Use boldface, italics and limited underlining.
- Use simple structure to make it easy for the reader to follow.
- Print professionally on a laser printer using white 25% cotton bond paper.
- If sending electronically convert word documents into a PDF (brief instructions).
DEPAUW SPECIFIC ISSUES Q: How do I list multiple positions with the same program, living unit or employer? A: If you have multiple positions with one organization (like a program of distinction or Greek living unit) it is usually best to list them as separate positions (with the format from above). Lead with title, organization, location, date and then bullet point descriptions.
Q: How do I describe programs or activities that are important at DePauw but no one else know about them? A: Think about the context in which you are writing. What does the reader need to know about your experience? How can you write about it in a way that helps the reader understand why the program or activity is important to your doing good work for them? Try to make the descriptions behavioral, observable, and measureable.
Q: Should I use acronyms in my job titles? A: No! While DePauw may be the center of all acronyms, and we all know exactly what they mean, the rest of the world is clueless. So, SLAAC, ITAP, POD… all need to be spelled out. If you must use them then they need to be spelled out the first time they are mentioned with the acronym immediately following in parentheses. Help the reader understand your experience by being clear with your titles and descriptions.