I am no resume expert but I picked up a couple of tips and tricks back in the day that I am willing to share with my numerous dedicated readers. You might be saying to yourself “Who is this guy and why does he think he is even remotely qualified to give me tips?” This is a valid point, but, if you apply to the Orr Fellowship, I could be the person reviewing your resume and my tips worked out pretty well for myself. So just sit back and let my insightful resume knowledge engulf you.
In no particular order here is a sampling of my vast resume understanding:
- When putting your GPA on your resume go to a maximum of 2 decimal places. If you Major GPA is significantly higher than you cumulative GPA then list that as well (it needs to be obvious that that is specifically your major GPA)
- Don’t be afraid to include distinguishing experiences. This could include time studying abroad or brief descriptions of your more complicated projects/papers. Just make sure that these things fit in the natural flow of your resume and are not under or overstated.
- Do not include stuff from high school, unless they are so ridiculously outstanding that there is no way you could sleep at night knowing that potential employers had no idea how great you were in high school.
- Make sure your experience/work history is organized logically. Ideally these sections will flow chronologically because if you planned things correctly, each job/internship builds on the last one, hopefully leaving your most recent experience as the crown jewel on your resume. In addition to this, avoid time gaps in your employment.
- One of my biggest pet peeves is when a person just puts “selected” or “completed” said internship on their resume. If it is on your resume I know you worked there and eventually completed the job/internship/program. Your resume needs to be about what YOU have done and what results YOU achieved. No company is going to hire you just because you were selected to participate in a particular program. Companies want to see how you progressed trough an internship and the impacts that you made while there. Sometimes showing how you went about something is just as important as the results. Interviewers know that summer jobs/internships are typically not long enough to make any really significant gains, but they want to see that you have demonstrated the aptitude to get things done.
- Make sure you don’t sell yourself short or embellish your accomplishments. A lot of times it is plain to see that a person has done some pretty significant work, but their resume does not reflect upon these accomplishments. If you have done impressive things make sure it is known. On the other hand, people can tell if you are trying to make something appear more significant. You don’t want to claim more than you really did or use synonyms for every word.
- Don’t leave dangling words on a line. You should either add words or take out words so there is not just one word all by itself on a line. This is valuable space, don’t waste it.
- Don’t make a resume that is more than one page. I don’t care how good you think you are, at this point in time you have not done enough to merit more than one page. You only want to include the very best experiences that are most relevant to the position you are applying for.
- There needs to be a balance of good details without jamming some much in there that your resume looks squished and cluttered. You really want your experiences to POP OUT not be hidden in the mess.
- Be sure to have a good balance of activities and experiences. Companies, especially the Orr Fellowship, want to see that you are a well rounded individual that has done well in school, has had good work experience, has been involved in campus activities, has held leadership positions, and somehow finds time to volunteer.
These are just some of the resume tips that come to mind. I would have written more but frankly I got tired of writing. If you want to make sure you have good career opportunities and don’t end up like this guy then follow my advice.
Follow these guidelines and constantly revise and improve you resume. This is a never ending process but if mastered you will really stand out to all the companies that are hiring new grads, which will lead to you getting a great entry level job and, with any luck, ending up like this guy.
Until next month… This has been Skip Tokar (Special Thanks to Editor Bryan Watson)