Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Moving into new territory: differentiating resume writing from academic prose

New ground indeed. Don’t mean to make the title sound scary for risk-adverse people but, for seniors, moving to “resume style” takes a bit of getting used to. The same style which has guaranteed success with your profs will prove to be a turn off with employers.

So, here are some tips to earn employer commendations in the best form possible, namely an interview:

1. Though your profs might be willing to devote 20 minutes to your grad school quality tome, don’t count on more than 20 seconds from an employer. So, what do you want him/her to notice about you in 20 seconds?

2. Think thesis sentence in different form. Every paragraph needs one, right? Usually right at the beginning of the paragraph. Purpose: to covey the intent and direction to the reader. Well, resumes need a similar focus. I call it “your good stuff”, i.e. what’s unique about you and will add benefit to the organization. And it needs to be right near the top. That’s why resume formats vary from one person to another….because everyone’s “good stuff” is different. One person’s might be their stellar academic record while another person’s might be their accumulated experience.

3. I’ve known some accommodating profs who might let an occasional spelling error slip by or grace the writer by red penning corrections. Not so an employer. Spelling error and typos = the kiss of death. Your resume will hit the corner wastebasket in no time flat and with it your hopes of employment with that company. So if you’ve squeaked through 4 years with no proof reading, now’s a good time to start.

4. Think short form—bullets and phrases—as opposed to complex sentence structure. Fits in better with the 20 second rule and another useful axiom, namely—keep the big, save the small. You don’t have to include all there is to say on your resume; hold back on the details until you get the interview. Unlike academia which at times values verbosity, resume readers value honed and pithy phrasing.

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 10/05 at 09:44 AM
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