Jaime from The Prepary has written another amazing post tackling a HUGE topic… resumes. With the new year here and February coming right up, I know there are some readers out there thinking of starting the search for a new job or starting the application process for an internship. (I do think it’s always valuable to have an up-to-date resume on hand whether or not you are looking! You never know what opportunities might come up out of the blue.)
Jaime is a true expert in all things resume and career related (she has worked in fashion and finance industries as a recruiter and talent manager). She has seen it all!!! This is a great jumping off point to get you started on organizing and updating your resume and Jaime is available for personalized consulting, too.
Frequently Asked Resume Questions… Answered!
Guest post by Jaime from The Prepary
So excited to be back in the New Year answering your career questions. Last post, we covered cover letters (check it out if you missed it) and today, we’re going to tackle the resume. If I had to guess I’d say I’ve screened over 100,000 resumes over the course of my career, and have helped at least 100 clients turn their resumes from good to great (more info on working with me here).
There were a few common questions on this topic: how the resume should be organized, if it should be creative or designed, and how customized the resume should be for specific jobs. GREAT questions… let’s get started.
I generally recommend four main sections on resumes which may vary slightly depending on whether you’re a student, recent grad, or someone who has been working for a few years already.
1. Education details– if you are a student, this can be at the top of your resume and if you’ve had at least one post-grad job under your belt this can move to the bottom just above the skills section.
2. Work Experience (it’s called work experience but think of it more as “relevant experience”)– this section should be reserved for your most relevant work and/or internship experience. Any “side jobs” that don’t relate to what you want to do next can go in the additional experience section if it makes more sense there.
3. Additional Experience & Volunteer Activities– this would be reserved for campus activities, extracurriculars, and volunteer work. The only exception would be any of those things directly relate to what you’re trying to do next, in which case you might want to put it in the section above.
4. Skills & Interests– Interests are optional but I strongly recommend skills. Any programs (i.e. Excel, Photoshop) you have experience with and/or technical skills should be listed here.
Next up, a lot of people wonder how “designed” resumes should be since it’s becoming a trend to have infographic resumes, use lots of colors, and show a bit of personality. Not to be a downer, but I rarely seen these done well and when they’re not done well, they do more harm than good.
If you’re a graphic designer and showing off high level work (or paid for a high quality template) go for it, but make sure you never sacrifice the actual content and bullets describing what you’ve done. For the majority of roles, the people screening your resume care about the content of your resume, not how pretty it is… and most attempts I’ve seen at the “pretty” resume fall a bit short and are tough to follow.
So if you want to use an accent color, stick with one. Don’t go crazy on fonts. Keep it simple and clean. If you do go with a designed resume, make sure you have a word version as well. Usually the systems you apply through try to convert the resumes to plain text (so they can crawl them for keywords) so you’ll want a plain version for systems and a designed one for emailing and bringing with you in person.
To customize or not to customize:
Another great question was about the degree to which you should customize your resume for different roles. Customizing can be a fantastic thing to do. One way to do this is changing up what’s in the “Work Experience” section and putting the most relevant items there, while placing the others in “Additional Experience.” This ensures that the top of your resume (valuable real estate!) is dedicated to what the reader will find most impressive.
Another way to customize is by adding bullets that feel relevant to the job you’re applying to. For example, maybe you planned a small event over the summer – but since it wasn’t part of your core responsibilities it’s not on your standard resume. If you’re applying for an events assistant role, you’re definitely going to want to add it back in!
Bottom line: no need to go crazy with customization (especially when you’re early on in your career) but think about it logically, and if you know a few tweaks will make you seem like a stronger candidate, make them.
Hope this post answered your questions about resumes. If you have others, I’ll do this best I can to answer them by responding to your comments. There are also some helpful resume related posts in this section of The Prepary. Looking forward to tackling the next group of questions next month!