All opinions here are my own.
Looking through applications for our Spring 2013 features internships at Harper’s Bazaar, I’m on the other side of the interview table for the first time (to apply email firstname.lastname@example.org!). And skimming résumé after résumé through eyes still glazed over from long nights of formatting my own, I’m starting to figure out which of my mentors’ many commandments actually paid off on judgment day—and which were needless torture.
Of course not every individual, or industry, agrees on résumé etiquette. I’d recommend finding a book or website you trust to break those ties, preferably by someone who’s worked or hired in your field. (I have on my shelf Can I Wear My Nose Ring to the Interview? by Ellen Reeves.)
But a few tenets that have been passed down to me I’ve come to take as gospel and would endorse for any internship or entry-level job résumé. Read them below and take it up with me in the comments. BONUS! Email me your new-and-improved résumé at romy.oltuski -at- gmail -dot-com by Friday, December 14 at 12pm EST for a personalized once over.
Photo via Jenni from the Block
Keep it to one page.
Your résumé is a quick snapshot of your professional persona, which, if you’re applying for an internship or entry-level job, hasn’t been around all too long. And that’s okay—employers are just looking for competence and some experience to prove it, best done by listing your most impressive accomplishments and not burying them in filler. So your brief stint as an usher at your friend’s play gets the boot. And unless you’re pre-college or published a bestselling book before prom, what happens in high school should probably stay there.
PDFs are your friends.
Saving your résumé as a PDF is really the only way to make sure that what you see on your computer screen is what the hiring manager gets. Especially with a formatting-heavy document like a résumé, if the person opening your Word file has an older version of the program or a different set of fonts, your work of beauty could turn into a cluster of Windings. Plus, if you do make that dreaded typo, do you really want a squiggly red underline to be the one to point it out?
Your résumé’s job is to showcase you as the ideal candidate for THE job, not A job. In order to do that, it has to evolve from app to app. Read the job description and company website carefully, and tweak your activities, the order of your experience, and the style guide you’re using accordingly.
Pick a normal file name.
“Résumé36” tells me I’m at the bottom of your list. “Magazine résumé” tells me you don’t care enough to rebrand between Esquire and Seventeen. Go with something simple and just descriptive enough: include your name, the word “résumé,” and maybe the job title in question.
Order entries according to relevance.
List the most impressive and pertinent accomplishment first, even if it was three years ago and you’ve been teaching scuba diving in the Caribbean ever since. Your résumé is not a timeline; it’s proof that you’re a great fit for the job. The strongest argument comes first. Tangents that add flair can be represented by a few words in an activities section. And experience that doesn’t help your case doesn’t make it onto the page.
Help your format help you.
Résumés should be easily readable in a glance. Use italics, capitalization, bolding, and underlines to organize the page and make the important things—names of companies, schools, and organizations—stand out.
Don’t oversell yourself.
You want to establish that you’ll be great at what you do. But if your résumé suggests you think you’re too great for internship- or entry-level work, employers might be hesitant to hire you. If your last internship had you answer phones, write “answered phones,” not “managed interoffice communication.” Experience answering phones might be an integral part of the job, so be specific, and tailor to the role. Of course, don’t undersell yourself either.
DON’T MAKE MISTAKES.
Sure, typos happen. But they also disappear after fifteen rounds of copyediting. If you’re not sure whether winter has a capital or lowercase W, look it up; italicize when appropriate; be consistent with your comma usage. You get one page to demonstrate competence and effort. Don’t blow it on grammar!
What do you think of these tips? Email me your new-and-improved résumé at romy.oltuski -at- gmail -dot-com by Friday, December 14 at 12pm EST for a personalized once over.