Friday, April 8, 2011

Uncommon Resume Advice

by Sherry Cao, CAPS Marketing Assistant, and Laurel Mylonas-Orwig, Strategic Programming and Outreach Manager

Here at UChicago, we like to think of ourselves as outside-of-the-box thinkers. We fill out the Uncommon Application (supplement). We read the Uncommon Blog. And we spend the Uncommon Fund on things like a laser rave in Harper and puppies on the quads during finals (I'm pretty excited about that one). So, there's no reason that our resumes shouldn't be uncommon as well!

I’ve been doing some research about resume writing—as I continue to apply for summer jobs, I want my (and your!) resume to shine as brightly as possible. However, while we all know that a resume should be organized, easy to read and reflective of your past experience, you may not know about some of following tips (that just might help you get ahead):

  1. According to an AOL Jobs article, the number one resume mistake is only writing about past job tasks and not elaborating on what was learned or achieved from that task. The article suggests asking yourself questions such as:

    • What specific professional challenges did I face when I took this job?

    • Do I have specific performance goals? How well did I do against these goals?

    • What is my greatest achievement in this position? How did I do it?

    • What were results and benefits to me and the organization?

    By answering these questions on your resume, you will give the employer a clearer picture of what you have done and why you would be a valuable employee. The article also has several other helpful suggestions, so I highly suggest you take a look at it.

  2. This Forbes article outlines nine pieces of advice about what to include/leave off your resume. I’ll just list my favorite ones:

    • Don’t use heavy resume paper, elaborate designs and other embellishments.

    • Don’t include an "objective", or a paragraph summarizing your skills.

    • Don’t share information about yourself as a person—such as hobbies and memberships.

    This article also says that you don't need to keep your resume down to one page, but until you've got a couple years of experience under your belt, you probably should.

  3. The last segment of this US News article answered a question that I’ve always had about how long to leave experiences on my resume. They advise that you keep a “rolling four-year tableau—the resume should always reflect the accomplishments in the most recent four years.” Also the first comment, unfortunately, has applied to me; Eelynn Lee says that grammar and spelling errors are “quite common”. Asking others to proofread your resume before submitting it for a job is always a good idea, and remember that spell check is your best friend--but won't catch everything. (Editor's note: It's especially important to remember that spell check will not catch words where the misspelling is a real word, but in the wrong place/context. For example, I once saw a resume for someone who had experience as a "Pubic Account Manager". She did not get a call for an interview.)

  4. Finally, I recently came across this AOL Jobs article about one typo that you should make on your resume. As you may have noticed, we favor "resume" on this blog over "résumé". This is an accepted spelling, but, of course, not strictly correct. However, in the age of online resume submissions, it is generally a good idea to omit the accent marks. The reason for this is that many database programs convert documents to plain text, which strips out text flourishes. That turns "résumé" into "r?sum?", which looks very much like a typo. To be on the safe side, unless you're submitting a PDF or a hard copy, leave out the accents. The French will survive.

I hope you all learned quite a bit about your resume writing—I know I did. If you’d like more, click on the article links or, better yet, make an appointment here at CAPS at (773) 702-7040!


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jean said...

I am glad i came through to your blog, most i read is about resume tips without mentioning common mistake so you have a great post here. Thanks for sharing

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