Extreme Makeover: Résumé Edition

Daily inspiration and advice for the ambitious savvy young professional

Extreme Makeover: Résumé Edition

This blog was written by Heather E., our campus ambassador from the University of Notre Dame. Heather has a  double major in business and psychology and will be entering her sophomore year in the fall.

We have all heard that employers spend 30 seconds or less looking over your résumé. It is their first impression of you, and it is a quick one. This is the reason that it is absolutely vital to keep your résumé as concise as possible. Your résumé should never be over one page, no matter how much you think you just have to include that other club position or job you held. Let me repeat that, YOUR RESUME SHOULD NEVER BE LONGER THAN ONE PAGE. I know it is hard because you have a lot of relevant information and because you are proud of your accomplishments and want to include them all. Trust me, it is to your advantage to cut it down. This is how to do it:

#1) Don’t include high school accomplishments after your sophomore year of college. This is pretty self-explanatory. By the time you begin your junior year, you should have enough college experiences to fill your résumé. They are more relevant, and they are what employers are most interested in. However, if you have a really outstanding high school accomplishment, like being a National Merit Scholar, feel free to keep it.

#2) Think of your résumé as a Greatest Hits album. That means only include the best of what you have done. Your résumé should be about quality over quantity.  Only include your most relevant and/or impressive accomplishments. This might include officer positions or work experience in the field related to your potential job. If there are things you are particularly passionate about, include them in conversations with your prospective employer. Employers can and will ask you about anything on your résumé, and it is important to be able to speak about those subjects at length and with sincere enthusiasm. Your excitement will be noted by your potential employer and will make more of an impression than merely a blurb on paper.

#3) Addresses are unnecessary. So are references. Including addresses for all of the places you have worked or attended school is a waste of space. The city and state is all that is necessary, and can be used in the “Chicago, IL” format. Professional references should never be included on your résumé. They should be kept ready on a separate sheet with a similar style and heading to your main résumé. They can be given to an employer upon request. Other unnecessary components include coursework (unless it is applicable to the specific job you are applying to and is not apparent as part of your major course of study) and your “temporary address” (just use your home address, as long as your parents check the mail regularly).

#4) Decrease font size. Although you use 12-point font for papers, it is really much too large for a typical résumé. 9- or 10-point font is more acceptable, with 8- or 11–point being the outside extremes for font size. This is an easy but often forgotten trick.

#5) Use a grid/column format. Too often, we stack all of our information on top of itself without employing the full width of the page. Designate a certain number of columns (usually 3 – 5) and fit your information into them. Consider putting your main headings (Education, Work Experience, etc.) in the first column and the relevant information beside it. For example, your first column might say “Education,” your second column would say “The University of Notre Dame” with information like your GPA and major below it, and your third column would have the Location (“South Bend, IN”) above your Graduation Date (May 2014).  Likewise, for your main heading, put your name in the first column and your information (address, email, phone number, etc.) stacked beside it. This easy to do with design software like Adobe InDesign, but is also possible to do with Microsoft Word.

On the other hand, if your résumé is looking a little bare, make sure you fill it up. You want to utilize one full page – no more, no less. Simply reverse a few of these tips to give it some additional length. If including coursework, addresses, or extra spacing between categories fills out a page without creating noticeable empty areas, then do it. Just remember that those should be the first things to go when you gain more applicable material.