I am really, really glad I never pigeon-holed this blog and made it all about writing or reading or cooking or whatever because today I have a specific target audience I want to address and I am hoping those of you in the working world can jump in on this conversation with your own thoughts and opinions as well.
I recently had the lovely opportunity (and I am saying this with all seriousness) of sorting through hundreds of college student resumes provided in application for a summer intern position I will be mentoring/managing. I’ve also been reviewing resumes for some open positions in my department – I will not be managing these positions but our department is collaborative and many of us are consulted when important positions need to be filled. In reviewing this multitude of resumes, I thought I would share some advice. Please note while I am honored and excited to manage our summer intern, especially since we all at one point needed someone to take a chance on us and this feels very pay-it-forward, I am NOT in human resources, have absolutely no HR experience, and this advice is solely from one working professional to a hopeful working professional, sort of in the vein of your friend who’s not a doctor giving medical advice.
My top resume tips for internship and first job seekers
- Assuming you are in college, put your education at the top of your resume. No work experience is going to be weighted more than your chosen major and relevent coursework. Including your G.P.A. is great – don’t worry if you don’t think it’s where it “should” be. We don’t get overly hung up on them.
- Unless you are applying specifically for a graphic design job, do away with the fancy resume formatting and make your resume as straight forward as possible – I received so many resumes with dizzying amounts of design and I really had to suppress the urge to automatically put them in the “no” pile for irritating me.
- If you have a liberal arts major like English or history or religious studies and you have absolutely no experience, volunteer or otherwise, in the field you are applying, including an objective at the top of your resume is a very good idea. Taking a moment to explain why you want an internship with my office demonstrate this is a thoughtful choice of yours and not something you are doing while totally freaking out that you are never going to get hired anywhere, ever. An objective really helps contextualize why you are seeking “real world” experience. For the rest of you…
- you probably don’t need to put objectives at the top of the page, especially if you are going to write sentences like “my objective is to get a job that benefits my charming personality” or “my objective is to get an internship that will lead to a well-paying job with good hours.” Well, of course. That’s my objective, too.
- There is absolutley no need to fancy-up your work experience. For instance, if you are a waitress at Claddaugh’s, you don’t need to say one of your tasks was “resolving client disatisfaction with product through consultation with management.” You can just say worked as a server – we get it. We all worked as servers in the past.
- Stick with one page. No, really. Stick with one page, at your age. No, REALLY. Stick with one page, no matter how badly you don’t want to. Stick with one page. Really.
- If you maintain a personal blog and include that on your resume, make really, really sure it has content you want your future employer to see. I think some people would recommend cleaning up your facebook page and twitter accounts too but personally I don’t have the kind of time to cyber-stalk you that doesn’t matter much to me.
If you land an interview, wear a suit, even if you think it doesn’t jive with who you are. You probably won’t have to wear a suit every day for the rest of your life but wearing one to an initial interview is tremendously important. DON’T wear open-toed shoes no matter how much money you’ve invested in your pedicure. Don’t wear an over-powering perfume or cologne, especially during allergy season. Do be yourself and not who you think the company “wants” you to be…as long as you are honest about yourself, your work and your background and approach the work with a little bit of humility you will be just fine.
Those are my initial thoughts for the newest group of rising college seniors looking for a full-time job in a semester or a year…anyone else have any advice they care to share? Or perhaps you disagree with me on one (or more) of the points?