How to write a kick-ass résumé

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THE PERFECT RÉSUMÉ—Be sure to pay attention to detail when crafting the perfect résumé. Employers won’t think twice about throwing it away if it isn’t prepared with care. Jackie Jahfetson/NW

Jessica Parsons

It’s time to discuss what some people dread, and others get excited for: résumés.

Whether you’ve been procrastinating and putting your résumé off, or you have 10 different ones saved on your computer, it’s time to get started or dig them out because next Wednesday, Oct. 16, is NMU’s Fall Semester Job Fair. The event will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. in the new Northern Center, and this guide will help prepare you to create a résumé that will have you feeling confident and ready for any event.

As you may already know, the purpose of a résumé is to summarize your experience, education and skill set in regards to a position you’re applying for. 

Most résumés follow a similar appearance, including headings for an objective, experience, education, skills, achievements, etc. To get started, a helpful tool to use is the templates found on Google Drive or Microsoft Office that have these headings laid out for you. Depending on which one you choose, there may even be a matching cover letter.

It’s important to understand that though most résumés reflect a similar look, yours should ultimately be tailored toward what it is you’re applying for. 

“It is hard to say what the most important thing is [on a résumé] because that would depend on the job one is seeking,” NMU English Professor Zhuang-Zhong Lehmberg said. “I’d say that a résumé needs to be well-written and formatted so that is would be easy for reviewers to access information.”

So instead of wondering if you should add a dash of color to your résumé, it’s first important to be consciously aware of what its presentation looks like overall. Ask yourself, is the correct information easy to find and does it look presentable?

“It depends on what you’re applying for. You want to show your reviewers that you’re serious about what you produce,” Lehmberg said.

Often times, résumés will get thrown out of consideration for little things that make a big difference. A 2018 survey conducted by TopResume—a hiring site—found that 70% of employers said that personal deal-breakers of theirs include missing contact information or an unprofessional email address. In fact, they didn’t even continue reading the résumé after that point. Additionally, a lack of interest in the position or lack of judgement and or attention to detail were also on the list.

“Careless errors. You don’t want to give the impression that you’re sloppy or you don’t produce quality work,” Lehmberg said.

What if you want your résumé to “stand out” but not in a way that it will get “thrown out?” Would “fitting in” with the others be better then? Well, you want to “fit in” because you want to show that you have done research about the job, but you also want to “stand out” because you want to demonstrate you’re unique, Lehmberg explained.

“It’s quite a balancing act. Doing thorough research about each job and the company/organization that is advertising the job would help,” Lehmberg said.

So now that you’ve produced the majority of the résumé, maybe it’s longer than a page. Is that acceptable? 

“It is okay for a résumé to be longer than one page if there’s substance for the length,” Lehmberg noted. “Reducing white space and using concise language would help fit everything on one page.”

Students should take advantage of those ready to assist at the Writing Center as well, Lehmberg said, adding that having the tutors offer feedback is always a good thing to do. 

NMU’s website under the Career Services tab is a helpful tool that displays a list of other career fair opportunities in Michigan, if you’re up for traveling and going outside of campus to find your place of employment. Examples include the Metro Detroit Career Expo, Media Career Fair and the Detroit Career Fair.

If you need more time, consider participating in February’s employment fair intended to prepare you for the summer from 1 to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020 in the same location. Additionally, there is the Winter Semester Job Fair from 1 to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, March 18, 2020. There are plenty of opportunities to build connections and your bridge to success.