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Résumé Do’s & Don’ts

Since its creation in 1482 by Leonardo da Vinci, the résumé has grown to become one of the most important parts of any application process. Through this document, potential employers learn about an applicant’s prior work experiences, leadership positions, and other relevant information. Yet, as important as a strong résumé is, many students do not […]

Since its creation in 1482 by Leonardo da Vinci, the résumé has grown to become one of the most important parts of any application process. Through this document, potential employers learn about an applicant’s prior work experiences, leadership positions, and other relevant information. Yet, as important as a strong résumé is, many students do not know how to make one.

“I am not good at making résumés,” admitted Meera Khaira (’18). “It’s hard because I feel like I have an influx of items on my résumé. One side is completely full while the other has next to nothing.”

With so many factors involved, building a résumé can be challenging. However, our trusty college counselor Ms. Melissa McClellan has some advice for students trying to build their best résumé. So without further ado, here are some do’s and don’ts of creating a résumé.

DO: Use your resources to your advantage

A useful tool to get a résumé started is Family Connection. Under the “About Me” tab there is a résumé page where one can find a tool to help put their résumé together. 

“Family Connection orders it really well — it actually builds it for you,” Ms. McClellan explained. “There are also a ton of great examples online that I would recommend for anybody that is curious about how to write a résumé.”

Where Family Connection may fall short, there is always the rest of the internet. A simple Google search will compile a seemingly endless list of websites that will build a résumé for you with the information you enter. This method of building a  résumé seems to be a go-to  for many students.

“It wasn’t that hard for me to put my résumé together because I used resources and websites that did it for me,” Jessie Yearwood (’18) shared. “All I had to do was type in Campus Ministry, SRLT, softball, and things like that and it laid it out for me.”

Even though there are ways to build a résumé online, there is still more to know when it comes to content.

DO: Keep it simple

As far as format goes, there is no one design or layout that businesses or colleges will expect. However, though you have the freedom to go as design-crazy as your heart desires, it might not be in your best interest.

“You want something easy to read and organized,” Ms. McClellan advised. “There are different headings like education and work experience that you want to stick out so that people can understand what section they are looking at and what it’s about.”

Make sure to focus on organization over what color the heading should be. The design of your résumé will probably hurt more than it will help in the sense that a poorly designed résumé will make you stand out in a bad way. Let the reviewer focus more on the content of what is in front of them instead of trying to decipher the characters in the heading.

DON’T: Make it too long

According to Ms. McClellan, “A page is usually about right,” but “it depends on what you are applying for.”

There comes a point in a résumé where the reader begins to feel overwhelmed. While the reader wants to hear about your achievements, making the honor roll in third grade is not quite as important as the internship you did last summer. Pick which achievements are most relevant to the position you want and use those first. Avoid dragging on about things that are not as important. They will add to the length of your résumé without adding too much to the overall quality.

DO: Emphasize your strong points

Sometimes you will be told how to order your résumé. However, most of the time it will be left up to you. Determine which activities are most relevant and organize your résumé accordingly.

“I wouldn’t say that there’s one thing that is more important than the other [parts]” Ms. McClellan mentioned. “But, I think it depends on what you’re going to use it for.”

If you are applying for a position working with kids, it might be best to list your experience babysitting or tutoring first. If you are applying for an internship at a law firm, talk about your participation in programs that discussed similar topics. Whatever the position may be, make sure to highlight your experiences that most favorably relate to what you want to do.

DON’T: Fudge the dates or details

Many people will make aspects of their résumé sound a bit more impressive than they actually were. Though everyone is guilty of this to some extent, do not go overboard. Lying on a résumé is a major disservice to both yourself and those reading it. Additionally, those reviewing your résumé may try to verify some of the information you give them. If the dates or details fail to line up with what they are told by the person they contacted, they will doubt the integrity of your résumé as a whole.

A résumé is a highlight reel of all your best accomplishments and is used to help prove your capability to fill a given position. While it is really defined by what experiences you list, a well-designed and organized résumé will only help you put your best foot forward and show future employers or schools how prepared you are to excel.

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