Penned with Zen: Ten free tips you wish you heard before writing your resume
Published: Friday, September 20, 2013
Updated: Friday, September 20, 2013 01:09
There are three things I check myself for when applying for a job. Clean teeth and mouth, check. Upbeat attitude and nice one-liners, check. Latest version of my killer resume, check. It’s hard to get all three going together, so thankfully I just have the latter ready when I roll out of bed and browse job postings.
It’s a very revealing process to summarize your life’s work just to get a job. Having taken two technical writing classes at UNH and listened to three lectures from our very awesome Career Advisor Jason Whitney from University Advising and Career Center (UACC) in Hood House, I have some tips on how to stand out amongst the unwashed masses. Cut this column out and tape it next to your computer while you trivialize your life to 300 words.
List a couple of specific classes or skills. You majored in hospitality management? How convenient, so did the other 50 applicants for this job. By putting down a few relevant classes, employers scanning resumes will not have to decrypt through the text to see if you have background relevant to their industry. Put down that “International Wines and Beverages” class you have been bragging about getting drunk in. It’s totally as impressive as you make it sound.
ALWAYS keep to one page. People are lazy, and your potential employers are no exception. Going through 87 applicant resumes in a morning, and they see they got a novel from you to read? They put it to the side and say they will give it a proper read when they are done reading the other 86 applicants that clearly read the instructions of “keep to one page, please.” Three weeks later, they toss it out because it’s gotten too soggy to serve as a good coffee mug mat.
Practice brevity, and add white space. Again with the laziness. No one is impressed with your discovery of margin and font adjustment. When someone in human resources (HR) sees the little squiggles of your size eight font text, they know that what they are about to read has not been critically edited.
Do you know what looks impressive on a resume? White space, the negative space between paragraphs. Only your resume is going to go through to the next round when HR subconsciously likes the right-side wave pattern you made with your white space.
Put down ANY extracurricular activities. When you are applying for a job, people want well-rounded folk. Show that your life is interesting! Your lead standing in your Final Fantasy Football League? Put it down as “team sport participant.” Spending four consecutive hours in our dining halls? Say you are a “locavore promoter.” That blog you contribute articles to about your experiences with drugs and prostitution? Write down “regular writer for refined tastes website.” I’m looking at you, ThoughtCatalog.com writers, typing about how hard your life is with men and cocaine.
Customize per job. You know that go-to pick up line you use when you meet a cute girl at a party? She’s already heard it word-for-word from the three other girls you have used it on. Just like friends after a night out, companies of the same industry share notes on the champs and chumps they have met. Try to make each pick up line, er, resume, unique to each job posting; people tend to notice the quality in effort.
Job purpose/statement. You just sent your brilliant resume to the company of your dreams, and HR says hire this guy. You go in, ace the interview, and realize afterwards you just got a completely different job in the same company that you applied for.
Make your resume sound more official and make it perfectly clear why you are sending in your resume so you do not have to point out to your employers’ mistake in the awkward exit interview.
Show your online presence. You know those witty tweets of insight you posted last night out? And remember that one time Ke$ha retweeted it out of context? Employers want to see that sharp humor. List your Twitter account, along with other indicators of your triumphs etched on the Internet.
Being serious for two sentences, get your LinkedIn profile together. If you do not already have a well-crafted LinkedIn profile to show on your resume, you will look more outdated than your mom.
Start sentences with ‘buzz’ words. There is a handout booklet from UACC that has a full page of words you should start sentences with. Yes, they even organize it by type of work. Yes, it makes your job experience sound so much better using these words. No, “possimpible” is not on there. That only works for Neil Patrick Harris.
‘Suggest’ references. Putting on the bottom of the page “will submit references upon request” is a crucial step to show potential employers how experienced you are and how much people like you. You know who’s a good reference to use? Your mom. Everyone knows her.
Put your contact information at the top. Just because you sent your resume in by e-mail does not mean HR will go digging through the company inbox to find it. You and another guy might be equally qualified for the job, but his resume has his cell phone number, mailing address and smoke signal system on it? He’s totally getting messaged before you.