Image from Pexels.

Image from Pexels.

Everyone should have a résumé (also known as a CV—curriculum vitae). It comes in handy when you’re applying for that internship, or when you want to brag to your friends about how extensive your experience is. But great resumes/CVs take a bit of work.

1. Polish Your Resume

This is absolutely crucial. You can have a great résumé full of lovely work experiences and your undeniably extensive community service hours, but it has to be pretty. This is not to say that your CV must include flowers and smileys in the margins; rather, quite the opposite. It should be simplistic, basic, and limited to black, white, and maybe blue. It shouldn’t look cluttered, so leave spaces in between lines.

Why is making it appear aesthetically pleasing important? Well, the contents are indubitably what matters, but people judging you based on your résumé are probably going through lots of other ones, and you should at least do them the courtesy of making yours readable. They’ll appreciate your neatness.

2. Keep it Short and Sweet

Some experts (yes, there are résumé experts) say that nowadays, people with positions like CEO or something else just as ridiculous probably have a long history of important experiences that should be listed on résumés extending beyond a page. However, that does not apply to most people. Your résumé should not exceed one page when using one inch margins and 11 or 12 point font. In the end, it matters that you put your most important and relevant accomplishments on the paper, rather than putting everything you’ve ever done.

3. Keep It Relevant

I basically have a different résumé for everything I apply for. You have to keep your CV relevant to whatever it is that you’re applying for. This is a bit tied in with keeping it short and sweet in that you should omit what’s unnecessary, and keep your most relevant and impressive bits. Especially if you have an objective (which you should), you’d want to specifically cater it to whatever you’re applying for. And if you have experience in a law office, you’d want to keep that when you’re applying for a legal internship, while getting rid of that time you worked as a trainer at the zoo.

4. List at Least One Reference

It gives your work experience more credibility if you can list a reference for it. Talk to your boss or your mom or whatever (you probably shouldn’t actually list your mom on your CV) and ask him or her if it’s okay to put his or her contact information in your CV. And if you don’t want to list a reference, you should at least say something like, “Reference available upon request.” That is, of course, if reference is actually available upon request.

5. Keep a Little Ambiguity

The majority of your CV should be straightforward and say exactly what you did for that job or how you volunteered or whatever. But when it comes to something like, say, getting an award, you can be a little ambiguous. Don’t lie; that’s not what I’m advising. For example, I have an award named after me. So what I do is, I list the award, and I say where I got it. And I don’t say anything more. Sometimes, employers or other interviewers will get curious and give you an interview just to ask you about it. If nothing else, they’ll at least ask you questions about it, which can be sort of a conversation mover. I mean, wouldn’t you ask me why I have an award named after me?

Happy resume writing!

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  1. Bharani on February 3, 2014

    Another important aspect is to ensure that your resume is well formatted and easily readable. Bad resume design could ruin your chances of landing an interview.

  2. Aida Guhlin on February 3, 2014

    I’ve always learned CVs and resumes as different pieces. Your CV for your long list of experience that you tend to keep available on your website or upon request and your resume what you frequently tailor to the job application. Just a thought!

    • Richard Peay on February 3, 2014

      You are correct. My thought process was that while it is true that CVs are much more detailed and often used for applications to educational institutions rather than jobs, in the context of high school students and early undergraduate studies, the two can be used interchangeably.

      • Aida Guhlin on February 4, 2014

        I understand that, but I would just worry that perhaps using them interchangeably would confuse anyone who is for the first time having an introduction to the concepts in the future.

  3. JanusRising on February 4, 2014

    Number one should be like, in all caps, because it’s something that the students are going to have to be dealing with pretty much throughout their high school, college, and post-grad life. SPELL CHECK EVERYTHING, PEOPLE. In my most recent job search about a year ago, I had sent about five resumes off to different companies when I realized that I had made a very minor formatting mistake. I felt awful, so I can only imagine what it’s like for people to have a glaring spelling error on the front page.

    • Lily Herman on February 4, 2014

      Great point, JanusRising! I made a similar mistake when I was applying for internships during my freshman year in college (super embarrassing to find out that I left a letter out of my email address…).

  4. Amanda Huebner on March 16, 2014

    Why do you have an award named after you?

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