Not all resumes are created equal. There are short resumes, long resumes, confusing resumes, boring resumes — and your job as a potential employee is to try your very best to avoid all of these. It’s not an easy task, especially when putting together your resume for the first time.
So you don’t get overwhelmed, here are our top tips to perfect one of the most important documents of your life.
Identify Your Goals
When writing your resume, first ask yourself some essential questions: what am I using this resume for? What is my goal for this resume? What is the most important thing for the reader to know about me? Do they really need to know that?
Write these questions down and try to answer them the best you can, don’t overthink it! This might be your only chance to show your potential employer who you are as a person, so don’t be shy. However, keep in mind that there is a very fine line between giving too little information and giving too much information.
Once you have these answered, read them aloud to yourself or to a peer or family member. The more eyes and ears on what you have to say, the better idea you’ll have as to how you’re coming across. You can use these questions and answers to help gain a better understanding of what you’d like to include on your resume.
Keep it Simple. Don’t Overthink or Over-Design it
Once you have a general idea of what you want to include in your resume, it’s important to consider your overall aesthetic and formatting. This part is more important than you think and a hard one to nail down.
Generally, it is safe to assume that this is not the time nor the place to exhibit your creative freedoms. Simple, clean and easy to read is the key to getting across everything you want to relay to your potential employer.
Now I’m not saying it needs to be boring and uncreative. But things can easily be easily overlooked if there are issues with the formatting, file type, and file size.
A PDF-file is the most recommended amongst professionals, as it retains all of your formatting and style choices and can be easily opened on most devices.
If you want to add style, make sure it also accentuates your goals and highlights important information. You don’t want your resume to look cluttered and become hard to read with so many different font styles and sizes.
Make sure to keep your structure and style uniform and simple. If it’s easier, use a template from Microsoft Word. There are a lot of interesting, yet refined, options if you feel like you can’t come up with something on your own.
One of the biggest questions you could be asking yourself at this point is: bullet points or paragraphs? This can be quite the conundrum. Bullet points are best for short, descriptive phrases. A short paragraph (no more than 2-3 sentences!) can be useful if more of a fuller description is needed.
Content is King
It is key to have the right amount of content and the right kind of content on your resume. This is where we think back to the questions we answered in the first step of our resume drafting process. Be sure to reference these to make sure you stay on track for your objective.
There are five main sections you should be sure to include in your resume:
- Contact Information. You want to make sure all of your contact information is clear and most importantly, accurate. Put it right at the top of the page where everyone can see it. Next, most people include a summary or objective. This is a short paragraph and tells the hiring manager either what you are able to offer them or what you are looking for. Keep this short, sweet, and to the point.
- Work Experience. This is where things can get tricky as resumes will vary greatly depending on your work history. The work experience section of your resume is obviously very important, but not everything. It should list the names and locations of your former employers, your job title and the period of time you worked there. Under each job, add a couple of bullet points that highlight your main responsibilities and achievements. Be sure to focus on ones that require similar skills as the job for which you are applying. Many of you might have little to no work experience, and that is ok. List what you can — even internship experience — and move onto your education section. That’s where you might want to spend a little more time.
- Education. List your education qualifications starting with the highest-level first. If you’ve graduated from college, no need to include your high school information as it is no longer relevant. Be sure to include your degree, year graduated or intended graduation date, school name and its location. If your resume needs more content due to lack of work experience, try to include any clubs, extracurriculars, scholarly affiliations or volunteer work you might have done during your time in school. This is also where you might want to mention any honors or awards you have received.
- Skills: This section should include a handful of abilities that are necessary, or again, relevant to the job. Do you sense a theme here? Depending on the job, you may have different kinds of skills ie. computer skills, technical skills, interpersonal skills, etc. Do your best to decide and try not to overthink it. This applies to everything you put on your resume! At the end of the day, it’s your choice so choose wisely.
After listing your contact information, the other four sections can be organized how you think best shows your qualifications.
Certain creative fields may want links to portfolios and to see where you studied. Technical fields are more interested in which courses you’ve taken and the skills that you possess: programming, math levels, software knowledge, etc.
Lastly, share your resume with someone in a similar career or in the human resources profession. As a mentor, they should provide you with honest feedback from putting themselves in the hiring manager's shoes.
All of Global Experiences’ intern program participants (abroad and virtual) go through significant professional development prep before their internship. So sign up for an internship program with us and we’ll review your resume and cover letter to get you on your way to your dream career.