Monday, October 17, 2016

5 Things I Learned from Seeing 5 Resumes in One Day

Not my picture, but it was too pretty not to include.

Grab your shapeless cardigans, people, because fall is finally here! At the Career Center, the arrival of sweater weather and picturesque foliage is always accompanied by the arrival of students looking for resume critiques. Last week, I worked a few of our office's pre-Career Fair resume critique days, which are basically extended drop-in hours for students to get a quick 10-minute meeting with a Career Advisor or Career Fellow. I always love the energy of these days; usually a line forms before the critiques formally start, and the whole staff is on overdrive to make sure we see every student who comes in for a critique. In just over an hour, I saw five different students with five different resumes. While these resumes varied in content, format, and style, I found myself repeating similar phrases or themes to all five students. It seems like no matter what career someone is preparing for, there are some pieces of advice that everyone could benefit from hearing. Below are a few of my most popular tips for any resume:

1. Consistency is key. This might just be due to who I am as a person, but I often find that the first thing I address in a resume critique is format. Is everything properly aligned to the margins? Do all bullets begin with action verbs? Is every position structured in the same way? Students often answer questions like these with another question: what's the right way to format a resume? While there are certainly guidelines, a resume can be personalized to your preferences; so long as everything stays consistent, it will look great.

2. Keep a master copy of your resume that you tailor to each position. It may seem like the best strategy is to include every job, leadership position, or internship you've ever had on a resume. For most high-achieving Tufts students (particularly the upperclassmen out there), you may find that you'll quickly run out of room on your page. Rather than curtailing your explanations for each position, consider listing only the most relevant experiences, and expanding on them in more detail. With a resume, it's quality over quantity. (This also means you might be sending out different resumes to different applications - and that's a good thing!)
What you (hopefully) do not want to look like after writing your resume.

3. Be mindful of white space. This goes hand in hand with customizing your resume to keep it on one page. White space is something that we typically don't think about in our resumes, but it can go a long way in terms of readability and aesthetics. Simply put, you want enough white space to prevent the "wall-of-text" look, but not so much that your resume looks more like your essay due in two weeks (translation: nothing written, if you're anything like me). Keep at least half-inch margins, and be sure to have at least one blank line between sections and positions. Play around with your formatting a little bit to find what you think looks good.

4. Put a number on it. A quick addition to any resume is numbers - wherever you can. If you tutored a study group, how many people were in the group? How long was each meeting? How frequently did you meet? Quantification is one of the best ways to paint a vivid picture of roles and responsibilities that you've handled, and this will allow employers to get a more complete idea of what you're capable of.

5. Proofread, proofread, proofread. The last thing you want is for your beautiful, aesthetically-pleasing, well-written resume to be thrown out over a misplaced comma or misspelled word. Before you hit print, give it one last read-through for nothing but proper spelling and grammar. Or, even better, have someone else read it too - I hear there are a lot of cool, resume-hungry people in the back of Dowling...

At the end of the day, your resume is always a work in progress, and you should continuously and frequently update it. With a few subtle changes, though, you can maximize its potential to get you in the door for that interview.

Until next time,
Sean Boyden
Class of 2017