June 28, 2012

Preparing your Résumé is Like Dating

By: Claire Kittle

“A date is a job interview that lasts all night. The only difference between a date and a job interview is that there are not many job interviews where there’s a chance you’ll end up naked at the end of it.” -Jerry Seinfeld

Anyone who has known me for long knows I compare work—especially applying for a job—to dating. After all, the comparisons are many. And frankly, thinking of the application process (writing your résumé and creating your cover letter) like dating is actually quite useful. While the end goal of dating is a prosperous relationship, the end goal of the application process is for you to land a job. And the rules to follow are quite the same:

• Always tell the truth

• Be straightforward and don’t play games

• Show off your best attributes

• Just be YOU!

Keep these simple rules in mind as you move forward and you will be on your way to a job offer—and a stellar dating life.

The Résumé:

They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression. And so it goes with dating and résumés. You have about 10 seconds—30 if you’re really lucky—to convince a hiring manager that you are worth considering for the job. So let’s talk about how to make those precious seconds count.The layout of your résumé should be inviting and easy to understand.

Your résumé should have a clean format with as much white space as possible. You should use one simple typeface and avoid superfluous items, such as photos, colors, and tables. As a general rule, your résumé should be no longer than one page, unless you are an academic, public speaker, or prolific author, in which case more pages may be necessary to list your publications and presentations. With respect to content, there are two essential items for a résumé: education and experience. Everything else is subject to a good arm-wrestling match.

For education, which I suggest you put at the top of your résumé, you should include:

• University

• Degree

• Major

• Date of graduation

• G.P.A. (if it’s good—3.5 or above)

• City and state of the university (Did you know there are at least three Notre Dames in three different states?)

• Any notable highlights, such as student body president, student union board, athletic participation, major scholarships, etc.

For experience, which should come right below education, you should list all full-time jobs and relevant internships. As you move along in your career, you’ll want to drop internships as your work experience grows. For each role, you should include:

• Employer

• Job title

• City and state

• Dates of employment (Month, Year)

• Bulleted list of responsibilities and accomplishments that start with informative and what I like to call “sexy” verbs, such as build, create, manage, oversee, develop, analyze, author, strategize, etc.

Other good sections to include if you so desire are civic participation (volunteering, political involvement, college alumni groups, etc.) and special skills (language, computer skills, and relevant certifications).

Claire Kittle is the Executive Director of Talent Market. This post is an excerpt from the Institute for Humane Studies “Creating Your Path to a Policy Career” guide.

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