And here is a pdf of the “after” resume–what we’re calling the “professional” resume:
Let’s look at two major changes and one minor change.
1-You’ll notice that the “before” resume prominently features the candidate as a student.
“EDUCATION” takes up 10 lines–nearly one-quarter of the first page.
By the time this resume was written, the candidate had spent 18 of her 22 years as a student. At that point, how can you identify as anything but a student?
But when you leave college, you’re not applying to be a student; you’re applying to be a professional. And we know that when looking at resumes, recruiters’ eyes track to the top one-quarter of the page.
You don’t want the only thing the recruiter sees to be your student self. Your professional self has to appear somewhere in that top one-quarter of the page.
In the “after” resume, we see the “EDUCATION” section reduced by half and this amazing professional experience has appeared in the top one-quarter: Peace Corps in Tanzania. Now that’s showing off some real-world professional work experience:
The details of education that appeared on the “before” resume, such as GPA, Dean’s list, and special campus programs will appear either in other parts of your application–for example, your transcripts–or elsewhere in the resume, where you might want to highlight the specific work you did as a James Scholar rather than the vague “outside projects that enhance learning.”
2- There is also a second page on the “student” resume. Going on to a second page is becoming more and more acceptable; with so much information shared digitally, the concept of “the page” is becoming antiquated. However, it is widely agreed that a recent college grad should keep the paper resume to one page. Here is the content of the second page of this student resume:
Here again we see about 10 lines (one-quarter of a page) dedicated to listing skills. There’s no one right way to handle the “SKILLS” section on a resume. I’m not a fan. I tell my clients to illustrate how they use their skills throughout the document rather than listing skills at the end. In the year 2014, it seems like a safe assumption that a college graduate will be proficient in Microsoft Word and Excel. However, I also tell clients that you have to tailor each and every copy of your resume to the specific job ad. So if the job ad lists required skills, such as Microsoft Word and Excel, then you should probably mirror that with a “SKILLS” section that lists the required skills that you possess.
3- The other changes from the “before” to the “after” are subtle details. And that is one of the biggest lessons here: it’s all details–hundreds of little details that all add up to a compelling, professional resume.
A few of the details that you’ll notice here:
Decreasing the number of bullet points without eliminating the content–just increasing efficiency with words and adding quantifiable information wherever possible. In the before, we see 10 bullet points and no mention of Peace Corps:
Using past tense consistently throughout. In the before, you see the switch from present to past:
If nothing else, these “before” and “after” examples should illustrate the importance of having someone else look over your job search documents. You need a fresh perspective–someone who is not inside your head–and a second pair of eyes to check over everything.
For $25, I will review a single document, such as a resume, and provide general and detailed feedback. Contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Darcy Lear is a career coach specializing in job search documents, professional school applications, and interview preparation. For one-on-one support in preparing for your job search or to set up a campus workshop, contact Darcy: email@example.com