Hi Hoya Gateway Blog Readers!
Allow me to introduce myself – my name is Sarah Hluchan, I’m a 2009 graduate of what is now known as the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown, a federal practice consultant for a large consulting firm, and a proud volunteer for Hoya Gateway. I’ve spent a lot of time looking at resumes – I’ve been involved in a mentorship program for college students who want to learn about consulting, and we use resumes in those selections, I’ve reviewed resumes to staff projects at work, I’ve helped numerous friends with resumes, and of course, I do resume reviews for Hoya Gateway.
Writing a resume is a daunting task – you’re being asked to set forth your qualifications on a piece of paper to communicate your skills and interests to potential employers. That’s a lot of pressure riding on one piece of paper.
(And yes, especially while you’re still in college, it should, in fact, be one piece of paper. I only recently expanded mine to two pages and I’ve been out of college longer than I like to admit).
Therefore, based on my observations, discussions with career counselors, colleagues and a variety of sources, I present to you…
5 Things Your Resume Needs Right Now:
1. Verbs. This is the big one. Verbs tell me what you did, specifically, and what skill sets you have used professionally. It doesn’t need to be fancy but it does need to be specific.
Some of my favorite resume-verbs: Wrote, researched, trained, developed, led, edited, crafted, analyzed, implemented, presented.
Be specific (I can’t stress that enough) and show off your achievements. Employers want to know what you’ve done and what your experiences look like – and how those skills can be used for their company. Also, lead with your verbs (don’t use pronouns, they take up valuable space and anyone reading the resume knows it’s you doing the action).
2. Numbers. These go with your verbs and provide detail and context for your accomplishments. Whenever you have exact numbers, use them! For example:
Good: trained staff on new IT procedures
Better: trained ten staff on new IT procedures
Good: wrote and researched articles for organization’s blog
Better: wrote and researched three articles per week for organization’s blog
Good: managed budget for campus organization
Better: managed $45,000 budget for thirty-member campus organization.
3. Consistency. Pick a format and stick to it. Use one font (maximum two, if you use different fonts for your headings). Use consistent style. If you’re bolding the names of organizations you’ve worked for – bold all of them (also, include locations). Make sure all your headings match – size, style and font. Basically you don’t want anyone reading your resume to be distracted by your formatting – the information should be front and center, not the fonts.
5. Printable formatting. In today’s digital age, it’s easy to forget that a resume will actually exist in hardcopy. Whenever I interview prospective staff (or meet with Hoya Gateway students), I like to have their resume in front of me for quick reference (and whenever I’ve been interviewed –for client engagements or otherwise – they’ve had a copy of my resume out!). Therefore, it’s important that your resume look as good on paper as it does on the computer. So print before you send. Some people convert their resumes to PDF files, which can sure up the printing formatting (eliminates the chance that whoever’s printing it opens it in an old version of Word) but be sure to have an editable copy available upon request (IE to send to a Hoya Gateway alum!).
And the one thing it *doesn’t need*:
Don’t waste space on “references upon request” – anyone looking at your resume assumes this – if you list a job on your resume, I assume that you’ll give me the information to contact them, should I ask. (And how to select and properly use references is a whole other blog post in itself).
Questions? Want someone to review your newly revised and updated resume? Contact a Hoya Gateway volunteer and set up an appointment for resume review!