One of the most important pieces of career “real estate” you’ll create are your resume and cover letter. Over time, your resume will evolve from focusing on your academic background to highlighting your professional experience. It’s easy to forget about your resume until you need it, but keeping your resume updated every few months can help as you network and find new opportunities even if you aren’t officially in the job market.
The resume is commonly misunderstood of as just a listing of experience and education - it’s really your career “story” on paper. The average reader spends 10 - 15 seconds reading a resume before making a decision on whether or not to connect with a candidate, so telling your story effectively and efficiently is crucial. While your resume cannot convey everything about your candidacy for a job (your cover letter is critical here), it provides a forum to highlight accomplishments, qualifications, and relevant or transferable skills.
There are some universal themes to keep in mind when creating or updating your resume. If you are interested in personal, one-on-one support with your resume, The Savvy Young Professional also has resources available to simplify the process while polishing your resume to perfection. More information is available on the Career Resources and Services page.
Getting Started: Top 10 Resume Tips
Keep the content to one page in length for your first five to ten years in the workforce, with the most important information at the top of the first page (education while you are still in school, experience once you are in the workforce).
Avoid writing “job descriptions” on your resume (e.g. a listing of activities for a job) and instead focus on accomplishment statements. The more quantitative your accomplishment statements are, the better. For example:
Job description statement: Created financial models to predict profitability of various business ventures and presented findings to the leadership team.
Accomplishment statements: Created a financial model that minimized the time required to predict profitability from 15 hours per business deal to 2 hours by writing code and creating a simple user interface. Presented findings of each deal to the leadership team, with 95% of my recommendations pursued by the company. 100% of these deals resulted in 12% or greater profitability for the company compared to the threshold of 9%.
Customize your resume for a particular company and job so that you highlight your most important skills and experiences. Make sure to use clear file naming to avoid version control when sharing your resuming.
Use simple and consistent formatting to draw the reader’s attention to the content. This includes consistent bullet points, font (black, Times New Roman), and spacing/indentation.
Avoid wasting space with statements like “references available upon request” or a listing of basic skills like Microsoft Office.
Highlight unique skills or programming knowledge if the job requires proficiency in certain applications or software (e.g. Adobe Photoshop).
Include information that demonstrates a pattern of excellence such as scholarships, athletics, and awards. This could also include selection data, such as “selected as one of two recipients for Scholarship X from over 100 applicants”.
Include information on professionally-related endeavors outside the workplace or academics such as clubs, philanthropies, or boards of directors. If you have a leadership role and/or measurable accomplishments through these endeavors, highlight this information in greater detail.
Enlist friends and family to review your resume for formatting, grammatical, and spelling errors.
- Print your resume on high quality resume paper (white or cream).