Passing by the bakery, looking for something to eat, I glanced at the window display and was instantly interested. Hello? Look at those cinnamon rolls! (enlarged below for your viewing pleasure) How could I not be drawn in?! Your resume is like a window display. The interviewer at your potential dream job will give your resume a glance–one glance–and they will either be drawn in to read more, and then interested enough to call you for an interview, or they move on to the next applicant. Believe me, having been on the hiring side of this process, that’s about how it goes. Here are some guidelines for the content of your resume that will make it more delicious on the eye….or something like that…
Education: If you’re currently in college, or graduation was less than two years ago, the school section of your resume will be pretty important. State the full name of the school you attended and include the location if needed (i.e. University of California… San Diego? Santa Barbara? Los Angeles?) State your gpa and class rank (if you know it and it’s moderately impressive), your major, and graduation date or expected graduation date. Those are the bare bones. It’s helpful if you can add a bullet point like “President of XYZ Club” or “Editor of Really Cool Journal.” Do not list all of your classes from every single semester; they will ask for a transcript of they want that much detail. Oh, and DO NOT put high school stuff on your resume. Unless you’re an absolute child prodigy and are still under age 18. That may be the only exception.
Work Experience: For many new associates, this section is a little short. Don’t freak out. You’ve only worked where you’ve worked, and done what you’ve done. Do not try to make yourself sound more experienced than you are. Interviewers have seen too much. You’re not fooling anyone. If , on the other hand, you’ve got 12 jobs the past 10 years, you certainly don’t need to list every single thing. Think about what is most relevant to the job you’re applying for or what impacted your life the most. Between school and work, there should be no timeline gaps on your resume . The interviewer should have a general idea of how you’ve spent your time the past five years. (For interviewing outfit ideas, heck out this casual office interview outfit or this interview suit).
Volunteer Experiences: If your work experience is lacking, this is where you can really shine. Have you been the leader of an organization? Have you volunteered for a project on a regular basis? Made an impact in the life of somebody else? The volunteer section can show your interests, skills, and passion in a more meaningful way than an “Interests” section could. Volunteering shows you’re a well-rounded person, that you’re interested in the greater good, and that you’re motivated by something besides money. Really? All of that? Yes! ALL of that! Sort of makes you want to volunteer some more, right? Serving others, always a good idea. As with the work experience section, if you’ve got hundreds of volunteer experiences, list those which are the most relevant to the position or you have a great story to share during your interview. (Another reason to see out volunteer opportunities–makes for great interview stories!) Plus, volunteering can lead to cool experiences like dinner with the United Nations or meeting new people you otherwise wouldn’t meet.
Templates for resumes may suggest you write a list of interests, leadership positions, internships, skills, etc. I’ve seen a resume be so broken down by headings and subsections that there was barely any content at all! Granted, for technical jobs, having a skills section where you list your coding expertise is probably a good idea. As some general advice, though, try to keep your resume as simple to digest as possible. Two or three sections should be ample enough to grab your interviewer’s attention.