Best CV/resume resources
August 14, 2013 7:58 AM   Subscribe

Writing a resume is tricky business. Make one mistake and it gets thrown into the dustbin. Are there any (free) resources and tips for how to write and design a well-written, eye-catching resume (particularly for (a) school administration and (b) design jobs)?

I am also very interested in hearing tips from your own personal experiences and prefer them to textbook advice.
posted by omar.a to Work & Money (21 answers total) 45 users marked this as a favorite
omar.a: Make one mistake and it gets thrown into the dustbin.

One thing that has always helped me deal with the anxiety of writing a resume is the knowledge that the kind of people who bin a resume for one typo are not the kind of people I want to work for/with.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:07 AM on August 14, 2013 [4 favorites]

For design jobs, do NOT over design. Being able to show good design sense with one type face (using different weights), one color (black or dark gray) and perfect spacing is much more impressive than huge blocks of color and meaningless pie charts or huge name and weirdo columns. You don't need anything more than maybe a horizontal line. Maybe. A good designer should have a simple, clear resume like everyone else, just in a PDF and a step or two above the traditional resume design-wise using the same elements. I can't stress this enough.
posted by milarepa at 8:09 AM on August 14, 2013 [3 favorites]

I've worked with resumes both professionally, and just helping people out:

All verb tenses must match -- past tense for jobs you no longer hold, present tense for a job you are currently in -- and all punctuation must be consistent. Quadruple-check for this.

Use Month/Year (or Year/Month) to date your jobs. Don't include the day, and don't only put the year. "2011-2012" could mean "1/1/2011-12/31/2012" or it could mean "12/31/2011-1/1/2012." Usually it is close to the latter. Employers know that trick well.

Everyone likes numbers, hard or soft. Quantify anything and everything you can to your benefit: revenue, efficiency, whatever.

Any URL on your resume should be as short as possible. None of that stuff. Anything you link, figure out a way to make it concise enough to be typed while looking at.

Leave your GPA off your resume unless it is somehow relevant to the job, or if your university is brand-name enough for a high GPA there to actually mean something to someone.
posted by griphus at 8:09 AM on August 14, 2013 [3 favorites]

Oh, and this is a contested point, but I would leave off the "objective" and "interests/hobbies" sections off unless they're de rigueur in your field.

Anything that would go into "objective" should be in the cover letter. If you left room enough for hobbies, you have room enough to expand on what you did at your previous jobs, which is a lot more important than letting people know you like stamp collecting and racquetball.
posted by griphus at 8:12 AM on August 14, 2013 [8 favorites]

The first person reviewing your resume will only spend about 6 seconds looking at it - not long enough to find a typo or missed comma. So don't sweat that too much.
posted by Coffeemate at 8:28 AM on August 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

I think people stress way too much over a resume. The primary job of a resume is to get you a callback for an interview. Most people will look at it for about 20 seconds and decide you are not qualified, or you are. Likewise, the job of the cover letter is to get them to look at your resume.

So design it with an eye to making sure the stuff you want people to see is impossible to miss in 20 seconds. What that stuff is can vary for each job you apply to.
posted by COD at 8:32 AM on August 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: All of these tips are great.. Are there any that are specific to school administration jobs (in addition to design jobs)?
posted by omar.a at 8:35 AM on August 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've never worked in a public sector job, but I have heard that they can be almost anal retentive about keywords, skills, and experiences matching the job requisition. So if the ad calls for 5 years public school admin experience in a school with 75% free lunches, a masters degree, and certification in X, make sure you use those exact words in the cover letter and the summary at the beginning of the resume.
posted by COD at 8:42 AM on August 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

To expand on COD's advice a bit: the rule of thumb is that everything that is in the stated job requirements/qualifications should be reflected somewhere on your resume. Not verbatim, but completely unambiguously.

The people who will be considered for the job are the people who have demonstrated themselves to be the most qualified. Your goal is to make it as simple as possible for the reviewer to put the job requirements and your resume side-by-side, and quickly check off every requirement on the resume itself.
posted by griphus at 8:50 AM on August 14, 2013 [3 favorites]

For anything CV/resume/job search/interviewing-related, you want to start reading
posted by blake137 at 9:01 AM on August 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

I agree with leaving out the objective, since your first-level objective is obviously to get the job. That's what the resume is for.

I kind of like seeing hobbies etc. on a resume, if only for the fact that it gives an easy opening to start a conversational interview. I also look for someone who is passionate about things when I hire people; it's easier to remember "oh, the candidate who is a sailor" rather than "the candidate who types 78 wpm."
posted by craven_morhead at 9:13 AM on August 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Organizations vary, but at mine, any typo will automatically put the resume in the trash, and we absolutely will see it on a cursory glance. For some reason it's much easier for fresh eyes to see them than it is for the author. Have someone else proofread it.
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:14 AM on August 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

For school admin - I'm an academic librarian these days, but worked in independent schools for 10 years - my resume has a little space where I can give a very brief idea of the school. Two-column layout, with one being a quarter of the width or so, and the other being 3/4. The narrower column has something that looks like this:

m/Y - m/Y

grades 9-12
X students
X item library

And then the larger column has the usual stuff - school name, location, followed by bullet points of things I did there. I got feedback from several interviewers that it helped put what I was doing in better context for them. It only works if you can keep it very brief, and well-buffered by white space, so it doesn't bleed into the main bullets.
posted by modernhypatia at 9:42 AM on August 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Definitely read Ask a Manager!

I also agree to take off the objective (you can replace with a summary of qualifications). Don't need GPA (or SAT and AP scores, which I have seen, yikes!). Definitely tense agreement and date agreement. You really don't need hobbies and such - if someone is interested they'll ask in the interview.

One little typo is not probably going to get you tossed. What is a flag is when someone doesn't seem to have taken any time with their resume. I phone screened a woman recently, and I casually said something like "I see here you live in San Jose" and she said "Oh I moved so San Francisco about a month ago" - she had only submitted the resume a few days before, so it seemed unnecessarily lazy to me that she hadn't changed it on her resume.

Milarepa's comments about design resumes is great too.
posted by radioamy at 9:59 AM on August 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Remember the first person who sees your resume is an HR type. A fancy schmancy Design resume won't impress them and may in fact frustrate them. Save that for the hiring manager. Always have an easily read version available in Word format that you can email, print, or submit online. Most larger companies use an OCR system to parse the information and look for keywords. Always include all of the keywords from the job description. Never include graphics, tables, etc. Think of it as a score sheet. the system will only pop out the resumes that achieve a high score, the rest are also rans.
posted by Gungho at 10:02 AM on August 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Always have an easily read version available in Word format that you can email, print, or submit online.

Have a Word doc at the ready but for the love of god send PDFs to everyone unless they explicitly indicate otherwise.

Because of the differences in MS Office formats (esp. the recent doc/docx divide,) along with internal settings, proprietary plugins, or even a company using something that isn't MS Office, sending a Word doc by default is basically assuring that the person opening the file will see a garbled mess. Unless you really mess something up during conversion, PDFs look exactly the same anywhere they're sent, and can easily be made machine-readable. I think Acrobat does that by default now if you're converting from Word to PDF, even.
posted by griphus at 10:09 AM on August 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

I have worked in both school admin and design. If you would like me to review your resume and give you some feedback, memail me.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 11:08 AM on August 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Are there any (free) resources and tips for how to write and design a well-written, eye-catching resume (particularly for (a) school administration and (b) design jobs)?

Blues Sky Resumes has a free resume writing course (it's in an annoying format where they email you one tip a day for like two weeks or something, but it IS helpful and professional) and they have a whole bunch of sample design resumes on their website. I've used the resume writing course and it was pretty good.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 2:19 PM on August 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

I just read this the other day: Don't waste time on the tiny details of your resume. Don't sweat the small stuff!
posted by atlantica at 3:39 PM on August 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

I used to hire at one of my old jobs, and we usually just glanced over resumes to check the person's degree and who'd previously employed them. The cover letters were much, much more important to us since their entire purpose was to explain how the candidate's previous experience and future objectives made them the best fit for our advertised position. I would put less energy into the resume than I would into the cover letter.
posted by pineappleheart at 2:01 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you all for these wonderful tips and resources!
posted by omar.a at 12:16 PM on August 16, 2013

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