The Art of the Resume
Click on the job posting. Upload your resume. Hope for the best. That document is your introduction to a potential employer, and so it is no wonder that it induces so much stress for so many. Especially when research indicates that the typical resume is assessed or dismissed in an average of six seconds. How do you even go about making an impression in a tenth of a minute? Think of it as art – your resume is you on paper.
You want employers to see you as a valuable addition to their team, and you want to display that confidence concisely. Carefully select no more than three or four sections based on your past experience, such as “education,” “work history,” “training,” and “summary.” If you have a plethora of past experiences, carefully analyze and pick out the ones best suited for the job you are applying for. If you are an up-and-comer, confidently speak of the volunteer and educational experience you do have. Small volunteer roles and college courses are stepping stones to the roles that you one day hope to have on your resume.
Incorporate bullet points to elaborate on positions. Within three to five points, talk about accomplishments using specific numbers and data. For example, a tutor or teacher should include the number of students they work with. Like telling a story, start with basic, fundamental information in your first point, and elaborate by the third to fifth point. If you are applying for a role you have never had before, show how your previous jobs have given you valuable transferrable skills. Studies show that the verbs you have can greatly impact your chances – terms such as “first” or “hard” have a negative effect as they imply inexperience and lack of confidence. Focus instead on your strengths and skills in the present, as opposed to your history or future goals.
If you find you have littered the page with walls of text, such as my previous paragraph, add more white space. More words do not always equate to more ideas.
Blank space gives the reader, and your words, room to breathe.
As you craft your resume, it is easy for all of this to feel mechanical. Given how many applications end up in a recruiter’s inbox, the little idiosyncrasies that make you unique can also make you more employable. In my education section, my undergraduate degree is a necessary but nonchalant line of text – it has to be there, but it warrants little attention.
After university, I took a one-year post-graduate college program entitled “Children’s Media,” which focused on writing and production for children’s television. Those two lines on my resume – one for the program, and another to briefly describe it – have piqued the interest of many recruiters. I have been told by employers for schools, entertainment companies, and more that it was one of the reasons they brought me in for an interview.
For writing work, my resume includes two cartoon drawings at the top. They depict original characters from stories I have written, as drawn by my talented sister. Employers have also commented on these and spoke of how it got their attention.
These little unique touches must be true to you and what you are applying for. They must also have substance – flashy text or images for the sake of flashiness will get you nowhere. You should be enticing questions from the interviewer that apply only to you – questions that elaborate on your specific experiences and accomplishments. No matter how limited your experience is, it is yours and yours alone.
This should all be accomplished in no more than four sections spanning one or two pages. Take your time crafting your resume, and send it to you friends – preferably the brutally honest ones – for a second opinion. By treating your resume as a work of art, you can see all the one-of-a-kind experiences, skills, and quirks that make you a valuable asset for the position. Thank you for your time.
Giang, Vivian. “How To Write The Perfect Resume.” Business Insider. http://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-write-the-perfect-resume-2012-11
Shavin, Naomi. “Tips For The Perfect Resume And Cover Letter.” Forbes. http://www.forbes.com/sites/naomishavin/2014/07/16/tips-for-the-perfect-resume-and-cover-letter/#33cb28871638