infamousod's ULTIMATE RéSUMé GUIDE vol. by popular demand

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Joined May 3, 2007
Before I begin:
If I've contributed nothing else of value to NT (which is likely, in fact I probably owe NT for all the bandwidth I've used and not clicking on ads)hopefully this will make up for it. I've put a good amount of effort into this and tried to be as specific as possible while making it applicable to thegeneral audience. I'm a graduate student (Van Wilder status) who has had numerous adventures into the world of human resources including career fairs(hosting and attending), student career centers, resume workshops, and just general mingling with recruiters and managers. I also read quite a bit on thesubject. All this information I take with a grain of salt, meaning I always seek new ideas and keep them in mind but don't hold any specific method to bethe right one or the best one, I take ideas from all of them and combine them into what I feel is the most effective combination. I am not going into specificsabout what to write on your resume, this is meant to give a basis for what makes a good resume.

***Many fields and industries require certain formats or standards for their resumes (or CVs), including teachers, engineers, programmers etc., make sure youlearn and understand those conventions before writing your resume. This is meant as a general guide.***

Pay attention because the sections are labeled for easier reference.

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Essential DO'S and DON'TS

If you read nothing else read this. Regardless of your experience level, the job you're applying for or anything else these are absolutely essential:

- Do not lie. Ever. There's no real need for it and whether you believe it or not recruiters/managers often do call references and verifyfacts. You will find it is actually much easier to explain the skills and experience you have and apply it to the job you're applying for than lying.
How Business Schools Catch Liars - http://www.businessweek.com/bschools/content/aug2008/bs20080826_375103.htm

- Do Spell Check. If you allow careless mistakes on the one sheet of paper that represents you employers will figure you will be equally ascareless on the job. Spell check and proofread it when you're done, wait, and then proofread it again. It is extremely common to have spelling errors and(especially in my case) to mess up the dates on a job or whatever. Have someone else proofread it as well. A lot of employers automatically trash a resume witha spelling error.

- Don't use the same resume for everything. Each job has a different job description and a different thing the employer is looking for,write a fresh resume for each one to make sure you are emphasizing the skills necessary for that position. Also, believe it or not recruiters talk, and if theyfigure out you sent out the same resume and just changed the company name, you're basically done with both companies.

- Do focus on organization. You are cramming a lot of information onto one sheet of paper, it needs to be very easy to read and

- Do put yourself in the employer's shoes. Employers get dozens, hundreds or thousands of resumes, you're one in a potentially largestack and you need to be conscious of the situation. If an employer has to read hundreds of resumes in a day they will likely spend only a few seconds on eachone and make a split second decision on whether to keep or trash it. If they cannot find the keywords or skills they are looking for right away, you'redone; they don't have the time nor patience to read your life story, you need to focus on catching their attention and get them to read more.

- Don't go over one page. Employers don't have time to be flipping pages, they want all their information right away. Unless a coverpage is asked for ***or your specific industry/field or situation calls for a longer resume*** you should not go over one page. One pageshould be plenty if you organize correctly. Generally, if you're in high school/college or just out of college you don't have enough relevantexperience to warrant 2 pages, internships and entry-level jobs type stuff. After that, play it by ear.

- Do stay relevant. Unless you're starved for stuff to put on your resume make sure you only list experiences, jobs and skills that arerelevant to the position. Again, the employer does not have the time nor patience to read useless information. Sometimes the experience can show character orresponsibility but if you have enough relevant experience the extra stuff becomes clutter, use your best judgment.

- Do Quantify. If you increased sales by 10% put it. If you managed a team of 15 people put it. Numbers attract attention and are easy to readif you phrase it right and in terms everyone can understand (make sure it's easy to understand or it'll be useless).

- Do be Consistent. When formatting your dates, text, font (size), etc. make sure you use the same tenses and bullets. Common sense usuallydictates what to do but in any case you should recheck your resume for consistency from top to bottom.

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NEUTRALITY: Gender, Ethnicity, Religion

I decided to put this higher up because it can be important and it's something you should always keep in mind when applying for jobs.

When listing clubs/organizations, unless it is all you have or unless it was a major part of your life do not list that you were in the Young Republicans (orDemocrat) club or that you were in PETA or any other organization that may potentially alienate an employer. You never know who may read your resume anddisagree with your views. If you are very strongly convicted go for it but be aware it might cost you the job. The same may go for religion...it's theworld we live in folks.

If you are a minority and you feel that being so might help you get the job there are ways to drop hints. If your name is Rodriguez you may not need to.Joining the Hispanic Student Business Club or something like that will allow you to put a big "I AM A MINORITY" sign on your resume. Also saying youare a native Spanish speaker can be a big hint.

I always stay as neutral as possible to be sure my resume will be judged only on my qualifications.

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FORMAT

Templates: Resume wizard on Microsoft Word will guide you to a very basic and mundane resume that looks identical to everyone else's. Be bold. It does nottake a lot of skill with margins, bullets and bolding/italicizing text to make a unique resume that catches the eye but is not repulsive. Remember organizationand simplicity is the key, employers may only skim a few lines of the sheet and will need to be able to find what they are looking for immediately or they willtoss it.

Don't justify text, it can create awkward spaces between words, just keep everything aligned left.

WHITE SPACE
There are two schools of thought here. On the one hand a resume with pushed in margins and a lot of white space will make it look like it's empty and youcouldn't find anything to put on your resume. Conversely, putting .01" margins all around and cramming text into every possible space and eliminatingwhite space will make your resume look intimidating and cluttered. There's a delicate balance there which is why I prefer not to use templates, butit's also why novices should use a good template until they learn to achieve that balance.

Example 1:
The most common Microsoft Word template will do a good job labeling sections but will also leave a lot of wasted white space:




Example 2:
Labeling your sections like this would allow you to make better use of the space and still make it easy to read:


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SECTIONS OF A RESUME

There are some essential parts of a resume, these are some suggestions for sections but by no means is it necessary to use all of these. Find the bestcombination to display why you are qualified for the job in the simplest manner.

Your Name
Contact Information
Objective
Education
Extracurriculars
Relevant Experience
Philanthropy/Volunteering
Work Experience
Skills
Languages
Leadership
References

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RESUME FILLER: What to do when you don't have anything to put on your resume. There are separate sections below with a few tips regardinghigh school and college students.

Hopefully you are reading this long before you are applying for something not the night before you are handing your resume to someone. The key is to realizeyou have very little on your resume and start seeking opportunities to gain experience.

To make the most of your previous experience you need to take an inventory of how you have spent your previous 2 years. If you have very little to put on yourresume you are probably very young and therefore you don't want to have old information on there. Two years is a limit on this kind of information becauseif you're 17 it's not very flattering that you were a paper boy at 13. The objective here is to find any activities that show your character or showthat you are responsible, or at the very least that you are not a bum. Anything that shows initiative, that you attended regular meetings or were given somesort of responsibility can be used. This would include school clubs, community organizations, honor groups, church groups (see 'neutrality' section),helping your parents/relatives/friends at their work.

Some of these things are more impressive than others, but the point is it's better than nothing. A lot of times people underestimate how good a little workexperience looks even if it is seemingly insignificant; if you spent your summers helping your parent/relative run their business, no matter how insignificantyour role, it shows you didn't spend all summer playing video games and that you know what work is.

List and emphasize skills! If you spent summers taking apart your computer or learning how to sew list it. Again, it shows you have some initiative and arecapable of learning a skill or trade. If nothing else list references, neighbors or family-friends can be used as character references.

Reminder: don't lie.


Good little article on resume fillers and what to do when you can't find a job/internship. Plus it's about a University of Florida student

Link

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HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS

If you're looking to go to college join as many clubs and organizations as possible, preferably honor societies. Not only are these activities more funthan they seem, they help separate you from everyone else on college applications and provide great stuff on your resume. Making the honor roll or similarachievements are also good to list.

High school sports are also relevant on college applications. You were asked to follow directions and train for a competition, these are skills and experiencesthat look very good.

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COLLEGE STUDENTS

After your sophomore year you should no longer have anything from high school on your resume unless it's a very particular skill. By senior year you shouldbe eliminating sophomore year stuff.

Stay focused. The purpose of college is to learn and train for the real world. Have fun but realize that this is precious time to make yourself available topotential employers. Start right away to look for internships and other activities/clubs to get involved with so that when senior year rolls around you alreadyknow where you want to start applying and what career fairs you want to hit.

Visit the career center, any good college has them and they are there to help you get a job. The college needs you to be successful so they can look good,those people are hopefully good at what they do and have all kinds of services to help you.

Get involved. Clubs and organizations, leadership positions, college council. All of those will make your resume shine.

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OBJECTIVES

The schools of thought regarding the objective statement is worse than republicans vs democrats. Although one near-consensus standard is that if you areattaching a cover letter the objective is superfluous and unnecessary.

This is probably the most confusing and misunderstood section of a resume. It's a great way for an employer to see what you're about quickly butit's also pretty obvious what you're objective is: TO GET THE JOB. Regardless, it's your chance to make or break your resume. The key here is to beas straightforward and simple as possible. You have approximately two sentences to state your case and entice the employer to read on. In most cases it'smore important to know what not to do in an objective.

This is a great case for writing an objective and a few tips for writing them:
Resume Objectives
Link

And for the general language and tone of the resume and objective this is a VERY GOOD article, definitely worth reading:
Tips for Humanizing Your Resume
Link
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EDUCATION

Easy section. List chronologically. If you're in college you can list your high school, after you graduate college it should definitely be off of there.You may also list any honors (cum laude, etc.).

Dates: You can list month/year or just year, being more specific never hurts though. If you haven't graduated yet list your expected graduation date. It isunderstood that you have not graduated yet.

Example:
University of Florida August 2006- June 2010

GPA and Test Scores:
It is standard practice to list your GPA and the scale (Example: 3.2/4.0 is a 3.2 GPA on a 4.0 scale).
Use your best judgment on whether to list your GPA. If you have a 2.1/4.0 you probably don't want to list your GPA. If you have a 3.0 you should assess thesituation, if you think everyone else applying has a straight 4.0 you may not want to list it, out of sight out of mind. Your resume is a place to liststrengths if your GPA is not a strength don't list it.

If you scored high on the SAT, GRE, LSAT or otherwise you can definitely list it. Make sure to also list the scale (ex: SAT 1200/1600).

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LISTING JOBS/EXPERIENCESS

Like I said I won't really go into specifics even though this is arguably the biggest and most important part of the resume. Just be sure to be consistent,quantify (as stated in Do's and Don'ts) and put the experiences in terms that are easy to read and understand. Human resource directors might not knowthe lingo or terms used in your previous positions.

When listing past jobs or experiences make sure they are relevant and have a purpose for being there. Say to yourself: this position is meant to establish thatI have experience doing this specific task. Using that mentality will keep you focused when you write the description.


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PHILANTHROPY/CHARITY/VOLUNTEER WORK

This is a great way to add something nice to your resume and shows that you are a compassionate person, etc. Employers like people with character. Do somevolunteering, it's good for you.

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SKILLS & LANGUAGES

This is probably my favorite section of a resume. It's your chance to list what really sets you apart. Everyone else has work experience and education butif you speak a foreign language or can type insanely fast and have some other rare skills that make you more valuable make sure to highlight them here. You canbe creative but remember to stay focused on what the employer wants to see

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REFERENCES

Don't put "References Available Upon Request" that's just wasting everyone's time. List them or don't.

Generally references are not needed unless asked for, there's usually not enough room for them on a resume. If you do list them, list their name, contactinformation and their relation to you. Employers want to know if they are calling a former boss so they know what to ask, otherwise it's a waste of time.

VERY IMPORTANT: Ask before you list someone as your reference. A lot of people don't answer their phone if they don't recognize the number...andit's sad but the person might have forgotten you, make sure they remember who you are and having something good to say about you (also make sure they arefond of you).

Article:
Do References Matter? The Pro's Don't Agree
Link
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This thread was brought to you by:



My Education


Businessweek, a great periodical that always has interesting and helpful articles for jobseekers on a variety of issues. Special section on their website.


WeFunk Radio on iTunes for getting me through the past 3 hours writing this. Hip Hop, Soul, R&B, Funk, mixes...groovy.
 
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Joined May 3, 2007
I realize yall probably want a nice thorough sample. I'll do that tomorrow, and maybe a cover letter appendix.


btw: The proper spelling is "rÃ[emoji]169[/emoji]sumÃ[emoji]169[/emoji]" ... too annoying to continually type on a web browser but absolutely necessary when sending e-mailcorrespondence to potential employers.
 
1,244
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Joined Jun 17, 2006
Thanks for all that - read up people, it's good info.

Here are my views on a couple things...

Originally Posted by infamousod

I realize yall probably want a nice thorough sample. I'll do that tomorrow, and maybe a cover letter appendix.


btw: The proper spelling is "rÃ[emoji]169[/emoji]sumÃ[emoji]169[/emoji]" ... too annoying to continually type on a web browser but absolutely necessary when sending e-mail correspondence to potential employers.
...really?I usually err on the side of caution and include more than necessary, but this just seems..excessive...

- Don't go over one page. Employers don't have time to be flipping pages, they want all their information right away. Unless a cover page is asked for or your specific industry/field or situation calls for a longer resume you should not go over one page. One page should be plenty if you organize correctly.

Eh...I'd disagree with this one.The first page is the most important obviously, but a two page resume is the limit I would use (not duplex, and whether ornot it's stapled is a bit of a mystery to me but I never staple mine). If creating any resume over 1 page, always include a header on each page...

WHITE SPACE
There are two schools of thought here. On the one hand a resume with pushed in margins and a lot of white space will make it look like it's empty and you couldn't find anything to put on your resume. Conversely, putting .01" margins all around and cramming text into every possible space and eliminating white space will make your resume look intimidating and cluttered. There's a delicate balance there which is why I prefer not to use templates, but it's also why novices should use a good template until they learn to achieve that balance.
This balance is ridiulously hard to perfect. Do a lot of experimenting. A word template can suffice at times, but I would never use one andI've heard people recommend job seekers never use these templates...I've heard of people rejecting resumes based on this alone.

Personally, I am not a fan of the second sample provided. It shows labelling well, but more whitespace is needed IMO in order to increase the readability ofthe resume. Blocks of text like the summary and the lengthy job descriptions make readability a pain and the resume even more intimidating, even if it is onepage.
LISTING JOBS/EXPERIENCESS
.....

When listing past jobs or experiences make sure they are relevant and have a purpose for being there. Say to yourself: this position is meant to establish that I have experience doing this specific task. Using that mentality will keep you focused when you write the description.

I like this...I never really thought about it that way. I'd say that when you fill in these past jobs/expereinces, relevance to the jobyou're applying for isn't as important as making sure there's a purpose for mentioning wht you do. You have to demonstrate a skill that youpossess. (If you say you're a good communicator in your summary, how is an employer gonna know? List osme experience where you have gained/improved thisskill).

Also, when filing in these experience, work on being brief. The job of your resume and over letter are more to catch the attention of the employer. Unless youhave stellar grades or did something phenomenal in your previous work experience, yoru resume (aka experience) alonewill not give you the job. You can elaborate on experiences in the interview if you've caught your emploeyer's attention.


Some miscelaneous things.... if anyone uses LaTeX, there are some great resume templates (not word templates) around..

If you submit your resume electronically, always (if possible) submit it in a PDF. Never a word document. You're asking for a formatting nightmare if yousend a word document. When I have the chance I sorta go overkill and submit and PDF and .doc file if the employer's requested a .doc. I've read oldrecommendations that say you should submit a PDF and a .txt file since a text file will be readable on any syste,m.



oh yea, use action verbs too
 
2,706
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Joined May 3, 2007
rÃ[emoji]169[/emoji]sumÃ[emoji]169[/emoji] is proper...I believe it's French for "summary"

Unless you're a working professional with 10+ years of relevant experience you don't need more than one page. Obviously the job and your experiencewill decide that but a lot of recruiters are annoyed by flipping pages, particularly at the internship/entry level recruiting.


thanks for the feedback.
 
10,942
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Joined Feb 22, 2008
I think I need help with objective part. All I want is a full-time job and that's all that listed. What else should be there??
 
1,976
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Joined Jan 21, 2003
anyone feel like making my resume better? I think mine sucks, since i havent gotten a call back in forever!
 
7,130
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Joined Oct 9, 2008
Great thread. Lots of good and useful info. I will be using this while I look for a more professional job after thesummer.


Go Gators.
 
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