by Patrick Madsen
You’ve done a lot while in college… hopefully. Now you’re getting to the point where it’s time to develop a way to express your achievements, expertise, and anything else you want to tell a potential employer. In other words…it is resume-building time!!
I know it looks like it’s going to take a loooooong time to compile, but it doesn’t have to. I’m going to share a quick and painless way to pull together your first resume so you can relax—and realize what you have to offer an employer.
I break down resume creation into three main stages: brain-dumping, organizing, and structuring.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/joost-ijmuiden/ / CC BY 2.0
Ever heard of brainstorming? That’s pretty much what we’re doing here. Take out a piece of blank paper and begin to brain-dump… Just write down everything you can think of concerning college and outside activities and experiences. This includes the smallest thing—such as a class you enjoyed—all the way to the biggest accomplishments—such as the impressive internship you completed during your college tenure. The objective here is to take everything you can remember and put it down on paper so that you can see it. Don’t worry about order or organization. Just write!
The reason: Many people tend to leave off some vital information from their resume because they either forget it or think it’s unimportant. Don’t be one of those people.
Take out a fresh sheet of paper—oh, wait, you’re the Millennials, so open up a new Word document—and start to organize all this random information into sensible groups: Classes in one section, work experience in another, presentations in a third… you get the picture. Do this until all the random information has a home. But do not title these sections yet!
The reason: This is a pre-format for your resume. It allows you to clearly see what types of information you have available for developing a resume specific to an area you are interested in. Also, it makes life easier for the next step!
This by far is the most creative time in the process. Before looking at any resume formats or samples, think about WHY you’re making this resume. What type of jobs will you be using this for? What do you want to highlight? What key words from the job description are important for your resume? These, among others, are important questions when thinking about the structure of a resume.
The reason: You should be tailoring your resume each time you submit it so that you highlight those items that are the best fit to the job for which you are apply.
There are thousands of ways to structure a resume…and each field has areas you should concentrate on or aspects you should consider. This is where an expert or a good mentor (or a good website or blog, like ours) comes into play. Go make an appointment with an expert in your school’s Career Services office or talk to another career expert you know. Tell them what areas you’re considering sending out resumes to and gain some valuable tips and techniques specific to those areas.
So there are my first three tips to get you started. I have a lot more. So many, in fact, that I could fill up this blog for the next few years!
One last thought: Once you actually build your resume, send it to someone to review. In fact…send it to MANY people to review!
Patrick Madsen is the Director of Programs & Education in Career Services at the Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School. He manages the Programs & Education curriculum to include career advising services, speaker series, brand management training, and other events to help students prepare themselves for the world of work. His background includes a degree in Psychology from North Carolina State University, a masters degree in Counseling from East Carolina University, and a doctorate in Organizational Leadership/Student Affairs from Nova Southeastern University.