Friday, August 22, 2014

general résumé feedback

Most of you have great stuff on your résumés-- now let's talk formatting and basic strategy.

1. Your objective should be tailored to each specific opportunity.  (This means that your résumé document will be a template that you'll change slightly for each use.)  If you're submitting your résumé for a job opportunity, your objective should be to use what you know to do that job well.  Example: "To apply my skills and experience in [working with people] as a [customer service representative] at [ACME Corporation]."  The idea is that the sections in brackets are easily changeable for each opportunity without causing you writer's headaches each time you apply for something.  As many of you see on the résumés I edited this week, the same thinking applies for scholarship opportunities.  Example: "To apply the [Smith] Scholarship toward my study of [Biology] at [Harvard University] as I pursue a career in [medicine]."  NOTE: Please feel free to customize the objective and write it in your own voice.

2. Suggestion: use a single, simple, clear format for your employment history, school activities, and extracurricular/volunteer activities.  Example:

Teacher, Righetti High School (2006-Present)
  • Develop curriculum and provide instruction
  • Create and maintain safe, productive, creative learning environment
  • Guide learners through self-directed, interdisciplinary, digitally enhanced experience
Generally speaking, it's a good idea to stick to three descriptive bullets that each begin with a distinct, active verb.  If you have more to say, consider including it in a cover letter or saving it for the interview.  Whatever format you choose (some of you have equally clear styles), be consistent.  If you use italics/bold/periods at the end of phrases/etc. make sure to do the same thing in the same way for each entry.  Also, if you're still engaged in the job or activity (as in the example), use the present tense in your bullets.  If the gig is over make sure to use the past tense.  Remember: what looks like style to you may look like a DQ-worthy typo to the reader.

3. With regard to Awards, less is more.  Name the award, the organization that granted it, and the year you received it.  It's great conversation bait if you're interviewed, and if it's an Award the reader will assume positive things (and may even be subconsciously grateful for your conciseness).

Golden Warrior Award, Righetti High School AP World History (2012)
Scholar Athlete Award, Righetti High School Varsity Basketball (2011-2013)

4. Include the last section:

Available upon request.

You want your reader to know that you have this information if it's helpful.  Some of you already have terrific references; save them for when they're needed.

5. No one is perfect, so please proofread your résumé after you make the first round of edits and show it to at least a couple readers whose perspectives you respect.

Hope this helps.  I'm happy to look at future drafts, and I wish you the best of luck with your applications! 

Up Next: The Personal Essay.

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