Friday, February 22, 2013

Holy Résumé, Batman!!

You've checked every classified ad and scoured every job search site and you finally found a job that's perfect for you. The only thing left to do is submit documentary evidence of your job-worthiness. That's right - I mean your résumé. As the company supervisors, my best friend and I were entrusted with the task of reviewing emails from potential employees. After coming across a few of the same faux pas in almost every résumé I read, I decided to put together some to tips on how to successfully launch your job-seeking missile. So, before you submit that résumé, read on. 

Formatting Fails
Save the crazy, nearly unreadable fonts for another project. You're going to want to make this one as legible as possible. What you believe to be eye-catching may be an eyesore for someone else so play it safe with a normal, non-offensive font. If you use • for one bulletpoint list, don't switch to + for the next. Even individuals who aren't sticklers for formatting may notice such a pattern change and be super annoyed by it. For me, inconsistency in capitalization is a major issue. If you list your job title as "Assistant Customer Service Manager" in one section, stay with that. DO NOT use "Assistant customer service manager" for the next job title. Again, not everyone may be disgusted by it like I am, but they could find it distracting. The thing you want readers to focus on is the content of your résumé not the way it's constructed. 

Don't Over Do It!
Write a résumé that sounds like you. Once upon a time, when I used to love to write poetry, I read an article that advised against attempting to write like an eighteenth century author whilst living in modern day society. This concept can be applied to any type of writing unless you are, in fact, composing a period piece in which case the use of thou, thee and thy is perfectly fine. Since we're talking twenty-first century résumés here, just write like you. Being formal is great, but don't try to mimic some form of formality that you've overheard from other people and don't normally utilize in your own speech.

Introducing... You!!
I came across a work experience section yesterday in which the applicant made detailed bulletpoint lists explaining what each company did instead of what his duties were during his time with them. Because we're looking for a candidate for employment not acquisition, I'm only interested in what you did. If I'm curious about the company you worked for, I'll just Google it until my curiosity is completely satisfied. Another thing that can fail to make a great first impression is the cover letter. I'm not really into them. I'm a pretty smart girl so I know not everyone out there is a "highly motivated, very experienced self-starter" and I don't like reading those same buzz words over and over in every cover letter we receive. Just introduce yourself. Who are you? Why are you applying for this job? Give potential employers a brief (very brief because they will be reading your résumé later... hopefully... fingers crossed!) description of your "extensive experience". For example, "two years customer service experience" will do nicely. Let the hirer decide if that is extensive or not.  Also, avoid listing "skills" that are more opinions than facts. Go with "55 WPM" in lieu of "extremely fast typist". Again, the employer will decide if your skills are sufficient for their needs.

Get Smart!
If you have trouble with basic grammar, do something about it! Having a friend look over and correct your misguided résumé is awesome, but you need to understand where you went wrong. After you're hired based on your ghostwritten résumé, what then? Eventually, your employer will find out you're not the grammatical genius they thought you were and the consequences could cause you to be out of a job.  There are plenty of books as well as online resources that can help you obtain a better grasp on the English language. Find them and use them. That way, in the future, whether you're composing a résumé or any other document, you're doing it properly. 

Adjust for Your Audience
If we were all cavemen, we'd be forced to etch our résumés into stone tablets. If we wanted to modify what we'd written, we'd have to whip out the hammer and chisel and pray that our slabs don't crack. Luckily, through the miracle of technology, we can change our résumés anytime with the backspace button and a few keystrokes. If you're applying for a certain position, tailor your résumé to suit that position. Don't fabricate. Simply highlight the skills and experience that pertain to that job.

I am not a English major by any stretch of the imagination and I am not an expert on the résumé writing process. I'm simply sharing with you my thoughts on how to avoid having people (like me!) who read your résumé, file it in the rectangular receptacle. Best of luck!

<3 n

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