What's most important? Content or Design?

  • You can't separate the two, but I would put content as most important.
    • I recommend functional resumes over chronological resumes, although your functional resumes will have some chronological sections. To build a functional resume start with the job descriptions and use the required/desired qualifications as headings for the sections for your resume.
    • Pay close attention to the order of info. Don't use the standard order, ed/jobs/etc. Whatever is most important to them, put that as close to the top as possible, and then continue on with next important, etc.
  • Know yourself.
    • If you can't brag about yourself, ask someone else to do it and then put that in your resume.
    • Don't forget to list projects you've done while in school. These could be the very things that set you apart from the other people.
    • Be yourself. If you don't get the job my experience tells me it's probably best. If you don't match with the person on paper, you probably wouldn't work well together anyway. And there's probably a better opportunity down the road.
    • Don't get your heart set on the first try. You could even consider trying for jobs you don't want to get experience with the process.
  • Know your audience.
    • Give them what they want. If they want a toilet cleaner, don't put that you are a sanitation engineer. It's a fancier title, but they don't want fancy. Use the same terms that are used in the job description and show how you are/can do those things. Then if you have other things that you think would add to what they want list those after you have covered the things they want. You may have been the number one debate champion in the country for 20 years in a row, but if they ask for people who have good written communication skills, don't assume that they will automatically think that your reign as debate champion means you can write.
    • And don't make them have to look for what they want. They won't waste their time trying to find it anyway. You'll end up in the circular file.
  • Know your purpose. And even though your ultimate purpose is to get a/the job, your purpose better be to get through the initial gatekeeping mechanisms/gatekeepers or the ultimate purpose will never materialize.
  • Use models, but only for their intended purpose - to give you ideas. Not to just dump your info into. Never use a resume that looks like a Word template. It's a dead giveaway.
  • Make sure you get all titles, names, exactly correct.
  • Don't neglect delivery! Find out before you start putting anything together how you will need to deliver your resume. Some places don't even want a resume nowadays, but require you to provide info into their online systems. So you need strategies for navigating that type of task as much as you need a good hard copy document.
  • Once you get your document ready, email it to as many people as possible to check how it's coming out on the other end.
  • Use pdf or plain text formats.
  • Spend time talking to people who hire and find out what they see, what they like, what works for them. And if you ever get the chance to be part of the review process for hiring, do it. The experience of seeing first-hand what others do well/poorly is invaluable.
  • Use only one font!!!! Some I would suggest: Times New Roman, Palentino, Arial, Helvetica. I've never known anyone who got a job because of the font they used and I've never heard anyone say they hired someone because of the font on their resume.
  • I wouldn't recommend going below 10 point font; 12 is better. Don't go bigger except maybe for a few headers. It doesn't make any sense to use a smaller font to squeeze in more info if the text is hard to read.
  • Use bold to set things apart and avoid italics. Use white space to help the reader. There's no one answer for how to do this because which font you choose and how you place things will depend on the content, which should not be the same for every application. Get the content down first and then play with the layout to see what works.
  • You don't have to stick to one page. Decide this based on the needs/expectations of the audience. And with electronic documents, having more than one page is not as much of an issue.
  • Online presence? How far should you go? If you have talent in this area you could list your web address as part of your info.


Online Resumes

Resume vs. Academic Vitae ("course of life")

  • An academic vitae/curriculum vitae (CV) is usually required for teaching positions at the college level.
  • Just the opposite from a resume, a CV usually includes everything and will cover all the years in the profession as well as any other related experience.