Besides writing how-to articles about desktop and server technologies, I also wanted to use this blog as a platform to give my opinion about various issues and topics ranging from technology to job searching to the challenges starting my own business. I decided to call these IMO (In My Opinion) posts and publish one per month on the first of each month.
Does Anyone Really Know How to Write a Resume?
When applying for internships and jobs, the first thing you are going to do before applying for anything is write a resume. The first resume I ever wrote was in high school, but it wasn’t a professional resume. We called it an activities resume because it showed off our accomplishments and provided colleges with a list of clubs and organizations we participated in during our high school years. I of course attended a workshop for this, and was given my first pieces of advice on how to write a resume:
- Keep your resume down to one page.
- A recruiter decides in approximately six seconds whether to toss or keep your resume.
- Make sure to highlight what you’ve accomplished.
I started to apply to colleges with a resume that followed this advice. I ended up getting accepted to the University at Buffalo, and ultimately decided to attend school there. By the end of the first semester of my freshman year, I knew I had to start applying for internships. But I also knew my “resume” from high school wasn’t going to cut it. By this time, I was working for the University at Buffalo as a student assistant in their central information technology department. I had also been hired to be the director of my high school pep band, and manage the social media accounts and website for the nonprofit organization Medical Outreach & Community Assistance of Western New York. Realizing I had enough experience to start building a professional resume, I started researching how to go about writing a professional resume. In doing so, I found out there was a lot of different opinions on how to write a professional resume. For example, in high school I was told to keep my resume down to one page. But multiple websites were saying it was okay to have a two page front-to-back resume, and to really be technical with your accomplishments.
This was all very confusing, so I went to a resume writing class. Ironically, this was of no help to me as the woman who ran the course gave advice that differed from my high school guidance counselor and what I read online. She said that a resume should be one page long, but you should NOT highlight your accomplishments. Rather, highlight how your accomplishments helped the place you worked for. I was frustrated and confused: one page or two pages? achievements or contributions? candidate profile or career expectations? These were the questions I needed to ask myself, and these were the questions that everyone had a different answer to. On top of this, I also had to consider the font and colors I was going to use (I ultimately decided on blue, yellow, and red for my colors and Arial for my font). I created my first professional resume, and started submitting it to various job sites. When I didn’t hear back from postings, I assumed it was my resume and not my work experience. But then again how would I know? It’s not like recruiters themselves provide feedback on your resume, let alone give you a pointed reason why they ultimately decided to keep or trash it. No, I’ve learned that with your resume you need to use your best judgement and ultimately structure it around the majority consensus of what a resume should be. Recruiters write blog posts all the time what they look for in a resume, but not every recruiter is the same and not every recruiter is looking for the same thing. Fast forward a few months and I had secured my first internship at a nonprofit organization Share Our Strength. Before my internship ended, I asked my manager Victoria what she thought of my initial resume when I submitted it. She said pointedly it was a mess, but she could see the potential in me based on how I worded my candidate profile. Unfortunately, not everyone can gather that just by reading a resume. But it is possible, and taught me that it’s not what is in your resume that is important but how you structure and design it to get the recruiter’s attention.
In my opinion, nobody knows how to really write a resume. But everyone knows how to judge one.