Perfecting a Resume: My Experience

Over the past three weeks, I have been working on perfecting my resume. I am starting to apply for summer internships, and I wanted to make sure that I am marketing myself correctly, so I asked many of my peers, professors and advisers for feedback. I have met with dozens of people, and I have gotten a whole lot of advice.

I'm not yet an expert, but here are eight of the things I have learned:

  1. You have 30 seconds to grab attention. Be concise, but get your point across.
  2. Show what you can do for the company, not what they can do for you. Your educational experience isn’t always their top priority. Hiring decisions will not be based on the reasons that someone wants a job. They are based on qualifications. One professor suggested that I replace my “objective” section with my “qualifications.”
  3. Stay away from adjectives that everyone else might use. Saying you are creative is not original (or creative). Google, “words to avoid on resumes” and you will find dozens of words that you thought were amazing. Think harder. Or just use a thesaurus.
  4. I learned this one on my own, but it’s pretty obvious. Don’t repeat adjectives. Don’t say that you are efficient more than once. You only have 30 seconds to impress someone. Why would you waste time repeating words? It also gives the illusion that you have a limited vocabulary. You don’t want that.
  5. Job descriptions shouldn’t be too long. They should be as specific to your industry as possible. For me, I need to play up the promotion, customer service, and sales experience that I have. I wrote out many duties that were irrelevant to positions for which I am applying. One professor suggested that I reduce my job descriptions by 20 percent, which helped to evaluate which information was most beneficial.
  6. Research valuable skills within your industry. According to my professors, writing and communication skills are high priorities for companies. I should highlight my writing and communication experience.
  7. Don’t highlight a skill won’t set you apart. I learned to “NEVER write Microsoft Office on your resume!” Everyone knows Microsoft office. Again, you don’t to waste the 30 seconds. Let them focus on a real strength.
  8. Make it look really good. Especially if you are applying for a creative position. Design is really important, so make sure you love the way it looks. You should also be prepared for it to be viewed electronically. Make sure it looks nice on screen.

A professor of mine described resumes as “trendy.” After listening to all this feedback, I fully agree. You will always get a different opinion, and lots of times one person contradicts the next. This is why I advise that you ask for as much feedback as possible. Ask your artistic friends to look at the design. Ask your smart friends if there are any grammatical errors. Ask your not-so-smart friends to tell you if anything confuses them!

Everyone has something to say, and most people will say it. You don’t have to follow everyone’s advice, but you do have to listen.