Your First Résumé: A Guide for Beginners

The following is a great example of how NOT to write your résumé. I may have exaggerated things a bit with “Joe Jobseeker’s” past work experience, but the other faux pas are unfortunately pretty common among amateur résumé writers.

After reading this through and seeing the many changes needed to make this résumé even remotely acceptable, take a closer look at your own to see if you’ve inadvertently made some of the same errors.

Let the learning begin!

This is Joe’s résumé. He spent about 10 minutes writing it and sprucing it up to bring it to what he feels is its full “awesome potential.” He’s a bit delusional. This résumé clearly needs a ton of help.

 

Page 2

1 Joe, first and foremost, your fonts are not consistent throughout the résumé. Formatting like underline, italics, and bold should be used sparingly. Also, the phone number is missing a digit, and the email address is far from professional.

2 Again with the crappy font. This is barely legible even at this large font size. Your objective is incredibly vague. Specify which industry you hope to get a job in.

3 Why is this entire thing centered? You need to make it line up on the left. The word “shoveled” is misspelled. Also, here come a few more fonts and bolding – ugh. Is this job even relevant? You were likely a teen when you did this job, and it doesn’t seem like you learned too much in the way of how a business is run from the stalls. Also, you can’t say that you fed slop to your boss. You can say “Brought boss his lunch” or something, but it still doesn’t seem appropriate.

4 Do not use an ampersand (&) in place of the word “and.” You’ve changed tenses with the third duty. Only your current job should be in the present tense; all past jobs should be in past tense (help customers vs. helped customers). Also, you shouldn’t say you were hired because your good looks helped you sell tires, even if it was true.

5 There’s a typo with the word “lined.” Use capital letters at the beginning of each line. You should leave “repeat” off because it seems like negative commentary about how repetitive this job was.

6 I believe you meant “groceries.” You changed tenses with the last two duties. Also, you should organize the order of your past jobs to be most recent to oldest. Managers want to know what you’re doing now, not what you did a decade ago (though they will read that far eventually, it doesn’t help your case at all to put the oldest jobs first).

7 Don’t abbreviate on a resume even if it is monstrously long and more than one page (like you did here: “w/” instead of “with”). Find other ways to make it shorter. Your last duty needs to be removed or changed to something a lot less specific like “Kept the customer restrooms clean.”

8 This font is much larger than anything else found in the rest of the document. I know you’re proud of your education, but it’s impressive enough without being in bold, size 24 point font. The year is formatted differently here than in the rest of the document. Also, the dash is different.

9 The way this section is written hurts you more than it could ever possibly help you. Those bullets when there are none anywhere else? Bad idea. Stay consistent. Also, format the sentences the same to say “I” in each statement or in none of them.

You should be as specific as possible about skills that you think an employer will see as vital. What kinds of computers can you use? What kinds of programs? Also, you don’t write “good,” you write “well.” I would suggest leaving this off completely if you don’t understand the difference.

Your disposition is not a factor on a résumé . It’s something they will notice during an interview. You can put that you are great at customer service perhaps, or that you can use many types of cash registers.

Overall Analysis: Where do I even start? The entire format of this résumé is boring and confusing. The margins on the page were obviously widened so you could put all of your contact info across the top, but then you skip two spaces between each job and completely waste space. This must be one page, but not with 1/2 inch margins and tiny font that kill a reader’s eyes. That said, following these edits will make this résumé a thousand times better. Then you can work on how to make your past jobs seem like great learning experiences instead of just what you had to do to pay the bills. But that’s another blog for another day.

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Importance of Networking

I’m a traditionalist. When, as a young lad, I set out to find a job I did it the only way I knew how: I looked for a “Now Hiring” sign in a store’s window, then went in and filled out an application. I got my first job that way. It worked for me once and if something works for me I stick with it.

After graduating college, I was a bit surprised to find out that most places who would hire a writer didn’t advertise that job in their window. Not that I blame them, most of those windows were several stories above the sidewalk so it didn’t make a whole lot of sense to advertise for jobs that way.

Obviously, a new strategy would need to be devised. Books needed to be purchased; words needed to be read; information needed to be obtained.

What did I learn? That networking was the number one way to find a job. According to the Federal Bureau of Labor, 70% of all jobs are found through a personal network

 

A network starts with family, friends, school chums – anyone you know who has a job and who is in a position to either inform you of an open job or possibly recommend you for a position at his or her company. But, the genius part is that it can extend beyond your immediate circle out to friends of friends of friends; expanding into a ripe grapevine of possibilities.

 

The power of this network lies within the personal recommendation. If a company values its employee and his or her work, then they’ll value his or her opinion when suggesting a new employee. Especially since their employee risks his or her standing in the company to make that recommendation.

You can also reverse the flow and allow this to work in your favor. Not only is that person in your network recommending you to the company, they’re recommending the company to you. Instead of taking up too much of your time researching the company, you have an insider who can tell you what it’s like to work there; what the people are like, how do the managers treat their employees, etc.

This information arms you very well for the interview. You’ll be able to answer questions with a focus towards the company and even offer ideas on how things may be improved.

There’s no downside to networking. It works for employers and for jobseekers. The key, then, is to build an effective network that serves you best. More on that later…