I remember the day my resume was evaluated for the first time at a Portfolio Review Night. The year was 2008 and my resume bled red. Looking back, I don’t regret receiving the harsh evaluation because it taught me that one never stops growing. I’ve found it’s beneficial to keep an open mind during every new experience and while meeting new people as these instances have contributed greatly to my career development. A quote that resonates well with me states, "If you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room."
Your resume is one of the springboards of your career. The good news is you are in complete control with what is on your resume and how it looks. The bad news? You may need to face the red ink and realize it’s used to help better yourself. Over the last eight years, I’ve edited a myriad of interns, coworkers and friends-of-friends resumes to help them land their dream jobs. These are my top four tips to tailoring your resume for success:
Be aesthetically pleasing
Hiring managers receive numerous resumes for each position, and applicants are most likely using the industry standard font: Times New Roman, size 12. Have your resume stand out by making a few, simple changes. For example, in appropriate industries, using an accent color for your name can help your resume be more memorable. Research the company’s colors and style so you can tailor the design to the company’s look and feel. Keep in mind that you would not use the same formatting concept for a marketing internship at a young agency as you would for an administrative assistant position at a conservative law firm.
Clearly define where you’ve worked, what your responsibilities were and your employment dates. Make sure your timeline is consistent and clearly visible. I recommend left justifying the position title and right justifying the time you were there in reverse chronological order.
Don’t say you "handled" a client on all eight of your entries. Use words that clearly describe your responsibilities. For example, it’s better to say "managed budget and reimbursement coordination, arranged travel accommodations and oversaw data entry" than "helped with day to day operations for the manager and director."
If you send the same, generic resume to different companies for different positions, the hiring managers will not get a true sense of why are qualified for their specific position. Take the time to customize your resume for the specific job you are seeking. Look for key words in the job description and see how you can tie them into your resume.
Updating your resume does not have to be a daunting task. Choosing the right word choice and color palate, and being specific gives you a better chance of standing out from other applicants. If you are still in school or recently graduated, advisors are typically a great resource for evaluating your resume. Individuals who major in communications and English are also great resources to seek advice from. If you are no longer in school, have a trusted colleague or mentor help you enhance areas that need improvement. Don’t forget — the CPT staff is always available to guide individuals in any way we can.
For more information on resume and career tips, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Alexia Kammer
Business Development Specialist, NASBA Center for the Public Trust