Your resume is the first thing a potential employer will see. Make it tell a story that conveys information as opposed to just conveying information. Distinguish yourself by giving extra thought to the bullet points on your resume.
The best resumes show details instead of lists of responsibilities. For example, one person was involved with her sorority in college. She noted how she “coordinated a fund raising campaign that raised more than $10,000 for cancer research, breaking school records.” This really stands out, while most resumes might simply list “President, XYZ Sorority” or “Organized events through sorority.”
Potential employers want to know what you did quantitatively, when possible. If you worked at the campus bookstore, tell the reader how many customers you served, how many hours you worked, how many promotions you earned, and how many staff you managed. Highlight any special distinctions such as longest-serving campus bookstore student employee or received employee of the month award for positive attitude. These distinctions also help your potential employer to ask questions. One resume I saw stood out because it highlighted how the applicant worked his way through college with a full-time job.
Consider using the space where you list skills to highlight a story about your career and what makes you special. A list of the computer programs you can use, or that you are “skilled in research and writing” doesn’t say much, but a story about how your undergraduate research was published in a journal that only takes 1% of submissions would be much better. If you started your own business, be sure to list it and give details about what you learned.
Use the education section to tell a story. Most resumes say the college, the year, the major, and the GPA. Especially for entry-level and 1-3 years out of college, consider using this space to tell your college story. Did you receive a scholarship? Did you take special coursework? Were you a campus activist who overcame hardship and advanced liberty? The potential employer wants to know this, even if it was not a specific position.
By telling a story, I don’t mean in paragraph form. Andrea McCarthy is right when saying that whole paragraphs are too long to read. You should tell your story in the bullet points that go under each job heading. Don’t just give information – give your story.
Roger Custer is Executive Director of America’s Future Foundation
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