I had the not-so-pleasant experience last month to go through a stack of resumes to pick another intern to work at my internship site. "Oh fun!" I thought to myself as I started, "Let's see how those people wrote their resumes, this will be interesting." Wrong I was. It was interesting, alright, but in a painful way.
Just as it goes in PR, when you write your resume, think like the one who WILL or WON'T use your information: The hiring manager. All of us have more or less a stereotypical idea in our head of what our resume should look like: Contact info, education, related work, related coursework, applicable skills. Thank you very much. Most of us, however, then forget the KEY words: RELATED and APPLICABLE. So we throw anything on our resume that we can scratch together and hope that it sticks.
RELATED, people, the keyword is RELATED
What I saw was rather pitiful. How can you apply for a public relations position and somehow think that being a server at a fast food joint is related experience? It's not even unrelated experience. It's barely any experience at all. It's a way to make some extra money. It's NOT a professional experience, leave alone related. If being a server is all you got when applying for a position outside the hospitality industry, you should join a campus organization that does relate to your desired work PRONTO and get involved. Put THAT on your resume. No one cares about McDonalds - not even McDonalds cares about McDonalds. They don't want to hire their servers for their PR department, they're looking for people who know PR. Yes, even the interns.
When a hiring manager looks at your work experience, they want it to say two things: I know what I want to do and I have some sort of experience with it. When you write your resume, take the word "related" quite literally.
THE THREE SECOND RULE APPLIES HERE, TOO
Even though it goes: I look at you for 3 seconds and then you end on the floor.
Make it easy on the eyes!
I was essentially looking over about 30 resumes, one worse than the other, and I started feeling really bad for those students. Because this was just ME looking at them, and I don't make hiring decisions. The biggest mistake almost all of them made were the simple things, such as not having your resume organized in an easy-to-read way. I ended up spending literally 3 seconds looking at each resume (it's not a lie, they really do spend 3 seconds tops!). If nothing special popped out right away, and if it wasn't perfectly easy to glance over it and get the gist, I discarded it immediately. And mind you- that was only 30 resumes! Imagine the big companies you really want to work for that get 500 resumes for a job!
C comes after B comes after A. You do know that, right?
Those resumes were all over the place, most of them starting with an objective, which is the most unnecessary thing ever. Your objective is to get the job. Duh. If you don't have clear headings and only important words highlighted, it's too much work to figure it out and no one will do it. When you opened THIS BLOG POST, did you scroll down to see how long it was? Did you read the bold headings first? Did they tickle your interest? Have you read the whole thing or did you fly over it? It's exactly the same with your resume. Your selling points better be bold (and that's your RELATED positions). Your headlines better stand out and be clear and your content under the headlines better reflect them. If it says related work, it better be so. And if it doesn't say related work, it may just be any work. But then you won't be hired anyway. All the resumes that had "student jobs" on there, I gave a smirk and put aside. Thank you. Next.
It's cut-throat, people, recognize it now. You are competing against hundreds and thousands of other people. If you can't even write your own resume right, how are you going to succeed out there in the jungle? "Good enough" does not exist! Scratch the phrase from your vocabulary entirely. Your resume is either excellent or it's trash. Learn it now, do it right, and be successful! Your resume is all they see of you - put it in a million dollar suit!