Building a resume can be scary. Where do you start? What is it supposed to look like? How are you supposed to remember all the stuff you’ve done? Where does it all go?
There are lots of great resources out there to help, but it can be difficult knowing where to start. When I work on a resume with someone for the first time, there are five things I mention early to set the framework before diving in. Hopefully these five pointers will help build your resume as well!
1. Every field is different.
This is very, very, very important. Different job fields have different expectations for what resumes should look like.
I know, that can be a bit startling, but it’s actually a good thing. Before, there were infinite possibilities for what your resume could look like; now you’ll have a pretty clear template to follow.
Begin with a quick web search. If you’re applying for a job in business, try looking up “business resumes.” It’s the same for any field, as well as basic resumes for entry-level positions or part-time jobs.
You can also ask a mentor in your field. He or she will know the specific expectations employers have and may be willing to share some additional trade secrets.
No mentor? Not a problem. The web search should be enough to get you started!
2. It’s all about you.
While it’s important to follow your field’s expectations, it’s also important to remember that your resume should embody your own style too. A resume is literally a physical representation of you. Yes, it includes your work experience, but it also gives potential employers insight into who you are as a person. I like to say it’s your personality on a page. I’ll show you what I mean.
Take a minute to look at the resume below. Think about the kind of person who would have a resume like this. What are some traits they may posses?
Click image to enlarge and zoom if needed.
This is a version of my Student Affairs resume. For the most part, it follows the standard of my field (two pages is okay), but I will be the first to admit I like to break the mold a bit. If I did my job right, you might have noticed the following:
- I’m creative
- I’m organized
- I’m an over-achiever
- I’m attentive to detail
These are all valuable insights to a potential employer. Further, my resume proves these things about me beyond my just saying them. You have a very short time to sell yourself in an interview, so use your resume to show off who you are.
For those worried that my resume has “too” much flare, I have this to say: it worked very well for me.
My resume speaks loudly of who I am as a person and employee. I think outside the box, like to press the limits, and don’t half-ass anything. If an employer doesn’t like those things, then I probably don’t want to work for him or her anyway. By being honest from the beginning, I avoid putting both of us in a frustrating situation later. You’ll have to decide how far you want to go.
3. Spacing, spacing, spacing!
As I just demonstrated, your resume represents who you are. Just as it’s important to look good for an interview, your resume should look good too.
It may seem small, but ensuring items are spaced appropriately is a big deal. Having an aesthetically pleasing resume shows you’re detail-oriented, strive for perfection, and take your work seriously.
4. You’re never finished.
Just because you have a resume ready to use tomorrow, doesn’t mean you’re resume is finished. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it’s never finished.
As you change, so too should your resume. You’ll acquire new skills, training, and certifications as you progress through your career. Keep track of them and update your resume regularly so you don’t overlook something later.
Eventually, you’ll have too much to fit. This is a good thing! When you reach this point, I recommend keeping a “working resume,” which includes everything you’ve done. This way you can review your “working resume” whenever you need and tailor future resume updates to specific jobs.
5. Don’t look at your resume on interview day.
This is more friendly advice than a tip for creating your resume, but I think it’s valuable. I’ve done a lot of interviewing for jobs and this was a mistake I made early on.
I would sit nervously gushing over my resume, trying to imprint the information onto the back of my eyelids so I wouldn’t forget anything. Big mistake. Next thing I know, my overly-anxious brain is finding error after error! I could have sworn there were no typos and that everything was centered, but there the mistakes were…screaming at me and telling me how stupid I was for overlooking them in the first place.
Needless to say, this isn’t a confidence booster. I spent the rest of the interview thinking about how bad I had messed up and worrying that my interviewers were judging me for my mistakes.
Did they actually notice? I have no idea. I didn’t get the job, so I wasn’t able to ask. Something I am certain of, though, is that it wasn’t the mistakes on my resume that lost me that job; it was the way I felt.
Obviously your resume was good enough to get you an interview, so why fret over it once you’re there? Review your materials the day before and avoid the frustration of experiencing this for yourself.
Remember, find out what is standard for resumes in your field and go from there. Make sure your final product embodies who you are; it speaks volumes as to the kind of employee you’ll be and interviewers notice. Also, make it pretty. Even diamonds have to be cleaned, so take the extra time to format your resume correctly.
Once you’re “done,” don’t stop updating. When you need to, start your “working resume” for reference later – it can be an invaluable tool. And finally, learn from my mistake and don’t look at your resume on interview day!
This isn’t everything you need to know about creating a resume, but it’s a really good start.
Have more questions or a comment? Don’t hesitate to contact me – I’m happy to help!
Thanks for reading, and GOOD LUCK!