This one-page document is the cornerstone of the search process. It should capture the activities and achievements that paint a clear picture of you as a potential employee.
Distill the Message
Your resume should be attractive and easy to read. Most employers initially review resumes for a half a minute or less. They will review it more thoroughly if it grabs their attention.
Your resume should be one page. Don’t list every activity in which you’ve participated. Focus on impact not tasks.
Pare down your resume to emphasize your most important skills and accomplishments.
Create a Narrative
Your resume should have an overarching message about you. Know what you want yours to be and make sure the information you provide showcases that message.
Think about what you want potential employers to know about you. That information should line up with your general objective and message.
Deliver the Message
Formatting is a key for cohesion. A resume can be organized chronologically or functionally, but either way, it should be easy to follow.
Use active verbs and vibrant language. Don’t repeat words or use passive verbs.
Every line counts so don’t waste space highlighting skills that do not differentiate you.
Use as few headings as possible. They make the resume more complicated and waste valuable space
The resume should make sense. You should have a way of connecting every demonstrated accomplishment back to your fundamental message of what you bring to the table.
Beyond skills, also emphasize stand-out traits. Is there information on your resume that demonstrates resilience, initiative, or patience? Choose examples that accentuate these traits in addition to your skills.
You should be proud of your resume. It’s the story of your choices and actions, believe in them. If you don’t, it will be very hard to convince people of your employability.
"Doug’s feedback was instrumental in taking my resume from a weak, easily forgotten list of schools and accomplishments to something that really stood out."
Create a perfect one page resume. In the early stages of your career, if it’s not on one page, it’s too long.
Start by writing down everything you’ve done or been a part of in the past 5 years or so. Go back even farther if you think it’s important. Don’t think about whether or not it’s relevant for a job. Did you write a thesis? Host a radio show? Have a crappy summer job? Lead an intramural dodgeball team to victory? Write it all down!
Now go back and review the laundry list you’ve created. Think about the story you want your resume to tell, your overarching narrative – find the items that easily weave into that story, flag the experiences that taught you the most, and the ones you most enjoyed – these should be the building blocks for your resume.
Organize your experiences chronologically (most recent at the top).
Describe the role you played, the results you achieved, and the skills you learned. Experiences you most want to emphasize should have the most content.
Play around with different templates and formatting options. Keep in mind that font size, tense, and structure should all be consistent. And make sure you’re leaving enough white space – don’t overwhelm the reader before they start reading.
Make it perfect – zero errors, zero typos.
Remember, this isn’t a one and done exercise. A resume is an evolving document, so keep tweaking, revising, and updating.
Even if you already have a working resume, this is a good exercise to undertake. It will allow you to rehash your experiences and accomplishments over the last few years, and reexamine how you’re presenting those to potential employers.
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