The Perfect Resume, IMHO pt. 4: Resume Template

9 02 2011

I’ve been lazy.  Winter months took over, depression from the weather began to sink in.  I avoided writing.  Moody and feeling useless.  But to get out of my rut, I’m back.  A huge thank you to Kaitlyn Cole from for this mention and to Will Hsu (if you want to hire a great new grad, he’s your guy – contact me for info) for giving me the big kick in the pants I needed to post.

I conducted some interviews today and my goal was to understand their skills, their accomplishments, and how they got to where they are.  I’m always impressed with the interesting things that people have done in their lives.

Which got me thinking about resumes again.  Really.  How do you pique the interest of the company you want?  Assuming that the interviewer is going to ask you probing questions anyway, how will you draw them in?

My sister asked me for my opinion on a resume that she found that was organized by skills.  Under… say, the “Analytical” section, there was a block of text so dense that my eyes started to water.  It got me back to thinking about that 10-second review.

It sounds so non-progressive, but I was taught to write old-fashioned resumes where it listed sections on Education, Work Experience, Awards, and Extracurriculars with a few bullets under each section.  I actually have a really hard time breaking this format and reading resumes that are not organized this way.  I can’t find anything I need.  I don’t know where they learned the skill or if it’s a recent or past experience.  I’m just confused.  You don’t want to confuse a recruiter or interviewer when they look at your resume, right?

So I gave a sample resume before, but I really just want to drive home that the formatting is often overlooked but super important.   Here is the structure I used on my own resume.  Thanks to all the career advisors that helped along the way!

NOTE:  This probably is only really helpful for new and recent grads.  Experienced resumes (for general business roles), shouldn’t be much different.  Engineering and Science resumes are not my area of expertise, guys!  Sorry… the skills resume format might work for those roles, but I couldn’t tell you.

Contact phone, email


State your objective here


Bachelors of Awesomeness, Field of study,  MM/YY (date received)
Academic awards or distinctions or anything else you want to call out.


Most recent company 1, City, State
Job Title , MM/YY – present

  • Biggest achievement (show results with numbers where ever possible)
  • Second biggest achievement
  • Daily duties that are remarkable or worth calling out

Previous company 1, City, State
Job Title, MM/YY – MM/YY

  • repeat above

Previous internship company 1, City, State
Job Title, MM/YY – MM-YY

  • Just 1 bullet or no more bullets because I’ve been working so long.  Depends on how much more you have to put (and length of the resume)


  • I think I had like one a long time ago.  So I listed it here with the date MM/YY.  You can also list it below and just re-title Extracurriculars to Extracurriculars and Awards (always lead with awards).


  • Org name, Member of the org. that I’m in #1, Date received or MM/YY – MM-YY
  • (you can skip the section above and also put them here)  Awards for talent, merit, academics, or general awesomeness, MM/YY received
  • Volunteering, MM/YY

HOBBIES:  blogging, dancing, yoga, general awesomeness

If you guys spent just 10 seconds reviewing a resume in this resume format, would you be able to quickly grasp my accomplishments in one page?  Just a side note:  I couldn’t move my dates to the right side of the page, but I’d have them aligned there in the experience section.

Draw in these companies in with a shiny object (like results or productivity) and then let them ask you about the rest in your interview.  🙂  You can do it!

P.S. My company is hiring.  In case you guys didn’t see the memo!


10 bad habits you need to shake after college

12 12 2010

Cross-post from

When Tim Handorf from contacted me to say hi, he also shared with me this fun 10-bad-habits list that I just had to cross-post here for those of you who missed it.  Channeling my inner Jenny Blake, it’s time for a list blog.  I wish that someone had given me this list when I graduated from college.  It would have saved me a lot of pain (it was embarrassing when my manager said to me: “Stef.  Not a morning person are you?”)  Read on.


10 Bad Habits You Need to Shake After College

Posted on November 29, 2010 at

After college, some of the things that you once thought were cool may not fit into your lifestyle anymore. More than likely you developed some bad habits during your college years that you just can’t seem to shake years later. As we approach the new year, it’s a good time to put an end to your bad college habits now and forever. Here are 10 bad habits you need to shake after college:

  1. Going to bed late: Going to bed late is one bad habit college grads can’t seem to shake very easily. Going to bed at 2 am and trying to get up at 7 am for work will most certainly cause some problems. Not only will you be sleep deprived, but you may not be as productive as you should be at work, and you could weaken your immune system. So, if you’re a night owl at heart, do yourself a favor and try to get to bed at a decent time so you aren’t worthless the next day.
  2. Sleeping until noon: Sleeping until noon on weekends or, gasp, on weekdays is no longer cool to brag about. Now that you’ve graduated, you shouldn’t be sleeping as much as a baby like you did in college. Plus, if you have a job (and want to keep it) this isn’t even possible on the weekdays. After college, your weekends are supposed to be spent doing adult-like things, so unless you were up all night working on your portfolio or planning your next investment move, you should be getting up before noon.
  3. Binge drinking: Taking shot after shot and bonging beers just isn’t the same as it used to be. After college, a weekend bender will put you out of commission for the rest of the week and your body will most certainly hate you. In case you haven’t slowed down your drinking habits, now is the time to put the binge drinking to rest and, for once, drink responsibly.
  4. Late-night eating: If you’re still giving into Taco Bell’s Fourthmeal or McDonald’s Big N’ Tasty at 3 am, you clearly haven’t shaken your late-night eating habits from college. Chances are whatever you’re eating between midnight and 4 am will satisfy your hunger, but it isn’t going to be found on the food pyramid. As a responsible adult, it shouldn’t be impossible to resist late-night food binges, but if you must quiet your tummy, opt for healthy snacks instead.
  5. Promiscuity: This one doesn’t require much explanation. Hookups happen, but now that you’re out of college and things are less cloudy, it’s a good idea to get to know someone before you consummate the relationship. If you’re going to do the deed, be responsible and use protection.
  6. Unhealthy diet: If the days of Ramen noodles and frozen pizzas aren’t over, you may be in need of a new and improved diet. Unless you are exercising regularly, an unhealthy diet can really start to show in all the wrong places. Now that you’re making some decent money, you should upgrade from the 99-cent menu and go grocery shopping.
  7. Making excuses: No more excuses! You may have talked your way out of getting tickets, absences or failing a class, but now that you’ve graduated, it’s time to quit making up excuses for every little mistake. Excuses will start to catch up with you, so it’s important to take responsibility for your mistakes and use excuses sparingly.
  8. Wasting time: Countless hours were wasted in college playing video games, looking at Facebook and doing God knows what else when you had plenty of free time. Now that you’re out of college, these time wasters aren’t nearly as fun as they used to be, nor should you have time to sit on your tuchus for hours on end. Whenever you’re wasting time, something is waiting to get done.
  9. Irresponsibility: You can get away with being irresponsible in college, like skipping class or drinking like a sailor, but things have got to change when you graduate. It’s assumed that you’ve gotten irresponsibility out of your system and you’re prepared to take on more responsibilities like work and paying bills. If you’re like the average college graduate, you probably aren’t financially supported by Mom and Dad anymore, and this means no insurance, no allowance and no more free rides.
  10. Unemployment: There’s no doubt that the current economic climate has hindered many college grads from finding jobs within their field. However, there are limits to how long you can blame the economy and terrible job market if you aren’t trying your damndest to find a job. You may be holding out for your dream job so you can use your degree, but sometimes you have to find other work and gain more experience before you can get there. Some money is better than no money.

Stef – Word.  This one goes out to my new grad readers.  Yo, those video games at 2 am?  Nah uh.

Do you ramble?

8 08 2010

Have you ever gotten feedback from an interview where people thought you were just rambling or not answering the questions?  I feel like this sometimes–I have so many thoughts and I just want to get them out.  But in the process of doing so, I’ve often left the original question hanging.  Yes, *stands up* I can ramble.

I just finished a course, where I am learning to be a better public speaker.  What makes someone an effective public speaker?  Their tone?  Their pace?  Their presence?  Their entertainment value?  It’s definitely a combination of qualities and many youtube videos give tips and tricks.

As I was taking this course, I read article and article and watched video after video about effective ways of public speaking.  However, having presented every day for the past 365 days, you would think that I would have a handle on this.  I actually don’t.  I may have some fundamental strengths, but some of my public speaking weaknesses far outweigh the strengths.

I’ve found that when I’m trying to persuade people to follow my idea, the delivery of my message is, perhaps, more important to the message itself.  When you’re in an interview, do you really take the time to make sure that you’re leveraging your public speaking skills and presenting yourself in the right way?

Here’s what I’m working on and some things that you should watch out for, as well:

  1. Fillers um… uh…em… you know?… right? – I once had a high school student tell me that I said “um” 17 times in an impromptu speech that they asked me to give.  The kid was a brat.  But the kid was right. I like to fill silence with sound.  When I am thinking out loud or not getting an active response from my audience, I find myself rambling and asking qualifying statements, like “you know?”.  To be quite frank, I’m shaking my valley girl nuances and trying to polish my language.
    The solution:  practice silence spaces in the form of pauses and phrasing.
  2. Tone and speed – Sometimes I find myself reverting back to “little Stefanie” voice, with a high pitched tone and upward inflection at the end of my sentences.  When I come to these points, I ask–why am I doing this?  I am usually rambling.
    The solution:  pause, practice slowing down.  When I slow down, the tone also drops several octaves.
  3. Diving into the content: Sometimes, I just start talking without an apparent purpose, but I’m just thinking out loud.
    The solution:  prime your audience to brainstorm or to think through the scenario with you. Then it’s not rambling, it’s thought process.
  4. Rambling – I talk a lot.  Pause.  Closing my mouth now.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Communicate with purpose: Thinking is not always a group process.  Take a moment to collect your thoughts before you speak.
  • Communicate with structure: An easy way to collect your thoughts is to create a quick structure for them.  What is the main point you want to get across?  What are the pieces of evidence or explanation you are going to provide to back up your point?  Is there an action or take away?
  • Communicate conscientiously: This is probably one of the most important take aways for me.  Think about your audience.  What is going to relate to them?  What is going to make them feel connected to you and what you’re saying?  Why should they care?

Keeping some of these tips in mind can keep you from rambling and repeating yourself in an interview.  It’s something that I wish I had developed at a younger age, but here I am.  Learning to speak persuasively and effectively.  Watch some of those public speaking videos and read the Toast Masters public speaking tips and practice speaking as they do.  I promise that it will help you in communicating your skills and qualities effectively to your audience.

Man, I could have really used this skill when I was interviewing.

Congrats Class of 2010!

14 06 2010

Congratulations, Class of 2010! After years of midterms, all-nighters, and late night junk food, you’ve made it! You are officially released into the working world to leave your mark.

But as you embark on this new time in your life, you’re faced with some of the hardest challenges our world has ever faced: a 9.5% unemployment rate in the United States (13% in California!); national bankruptcy in Greece and Spain; and the constant fluctuation of the Asian stock markets. The world as you know it is changing before your eyes and the years you were in school kept you somewhat removed and safe from these realities. But now that you’re faced with the real challenge of finding your dream career (or any career for that matter), the pressure is on.

For those of you who have lined up your first job after college, congrats! You can stop reading now. For those of you who are still searching, I implore you to stay positive. While I won’t have a magic solution to solve your problems, I hope that I can remind you of the ways to keep you moving forward despite setbacks. So here’s my advice to you, Awesome and Unemployed class of 2010:

Stay positive. When you hit the bottom, there’s no where to go, but up.

I am a firm believer in the kinesis of attitude. Finding your strength and staying positive during uncertain times can bring you the energy you need to stay focused and find creative solutions to your situation. It can also draw others to you. People want to help others that have a good attitude despite all their circumstances. Don’t give up on yourself. You have worked too hard to let economic adversity change who you are and what you’ve achieved.

Make small, attainable goals that lead to bigger ones.

When I first sat down with my brother to talk about building a resume, I saw the color drain from his face. The thought of doing something he didn’t know how to do (building a resume) and doing something he didn’t like to do (talking about himself) made him lose his confidence. I knew that if he didn’t take tiny steps to try, he wouldn’t be able to start. He didn’t realize it, but I began laying out small milestones for him, starting with the frame of the resume. In our next conversation, we moved on to filling in the details he already knew about his experience. Finally, he thought about what else might be missing from the resume (I will ignore the fact that he lost his nerve again when I asked how it was coming along, because he forgot that he had even started the resume!). With a few final touch ups, he had a great resume. But had he kept thinking about the goal, he would have stayed overwhelmed and unsure of how to approach the situation. Setting tiny milestones help bring you to larger goals. Don’t forget to simplify your tasks, especially if you dislike them.

Creativity in scarcity.

There are numerous academic articles on how creativity comes out of scarcity. I like to call it being “scrappy”. I remember hitting the point in my life where the depression of being unemployed set in. It felt like there was nothing I could do to land the job I needed so badly for myself. I met with a mentor who suggested that I “walk in with more” than my resume. As I thought about this more, I really thought that I could do more than just talk about how I was a great fit, I would show them with real life examples. For my next interview, I decided to prepare a portfolio that showed off my different skill sets. I included examples of core skills and a snapshot of my schedule to show how I organize my life every day and how active I was. I did research for the company as if I was already working for them and added it to my portfolio. Then, I made sure that I used it as show and tell in my interview. Having visited many college campuses, I’ve seen many creative approaches to “walking in with more” than your resume. So what’s yours going to be?

Finally–Don’t waste a moment.

Being unemployed means that you have free time. Please don’t let your time go to waste. There are books to read, countries to visit, research to conduct, risks to take, people to help, and a life to live. Sitting and brooding over your situation doesn’t change it. It is toxic for your mental health. Enjoy life and do the things that make you the most passionate and alive. Find ways to incubate your skills and your sanity, so that when you finally do get the call from the employer, you’re mentally stimulated enough to have meaningful conversations with them and talk about all the amazing things you’ve been doing with your down time!

And with that, please, go out, and enjoy the summer. I wish you the best of luck!

The Perfect Resume (IMHO) pt.2 – Experience

7 03 2010

I apologize awesome folks.  Busy as always is never an excuse to neglect helping others.  So I’m back.  I’m here.  I’m yours.

You guys are craaaaaaaving this.  Based on the number of hits from part 1, I have decided to bring you part 2 to this series!  Let’s deep dive into the meat and potatoes of a resume.  The experience section. It’s one that gets a ton of variation in formatting and information, so let me help you understand how to start thinking about it better and organizing your story.

Here’s the thing about resumes.  A trained recruiter will probably only spend 30-60 seconds OR LESS reviewing yours before they make a decision about whether you should be passed on to interviews.

If you have 30 seconds to convince someone to give you a chance, you’re going to want to highlight your most important accomplishments in each role and prioritize these things as the first few bullets in your experience section.  Make sure that every word on the page is necessary and adds value to your story.  Even something as simple as dates in a role can show 1) commitment and tenure, 2) promotion rates, and 3) years of experience.  Because of this, it’s important to show both Month/Year that you started and ended each role.  Those little details and small changes can tell an employer a lot!

Let’s talk more about bullet points

If something’s not adding value, remove it or consolidate and demote it to the last bullet point!  Here are some questions you should answer in every bullet point under your experience section:

  • What did you improve in the company/role?  (Increased sales by 326%….)
  • What was amazing about this?  (…within one month…)
  • How did you do it?  (…by restructuring the sales incentive program to refocus on A, B, and C.)

What’s not included there?

  • I was amazing.
  • Fantastic.
  • Efficient.
  • Awesome.
  • Great.

Let the employer decide for themselves what is amazing, fantastic, and efficient.  You just state the facts about your contributions and what you did to elevate your past employer or role to the next level.

I also really dislike seeing 13481758 bullet points under each section.  Be concise – give 3-5 bullets that have more meaning.  When I see a resume with 3257109 bullets, I get frustrated.  Make it easy.  Synthesize your work by only including what matters.  We’ll interview you to uncover the other details on HOW you did it.

I love numbers!

Using numbers and metrics can also really help to show the speed, scope, volume, and impact that you have left behind.  Employers want to know that you have the basic analytical skills to measure the results of your work.  If you never tracked your work before, you should start!  No matter how well you do, nothing illustrates your achievements louder than numbers on a resume.

If your resume isn’t already formatted to consider these things I said above, revise it.  Then let me know if this changes how many call-backs you’re getting!

The Perfect Resume (IMHO) – pt. 1

16 10 2009

I’m starting a series called “The perfect resume”.  It will take me a bazillion years to figure this out for myself, as well, but I’ll put some tricks that worked for me (and for others).  Let’s start with the basics:

What is a resume?
It’s a simple, easy to read snapshot of facts that illustrate your past experiences, affiliations and credentials for a role.  Let’s call out the most important part for me here:  EASY TO READ.  An experienced recruiter spends a whole of about 30 seconds scanning your resume for facts about you.  So a resume cannot be a brick of text.  It cannot be a 913751875 page memoir.  It’s a simple statement of facts that you’ve collected on your experiences.  Leave it at that!

Resumes should be objective.
It doesn’t matter how many times you wrote “awesome” and “effective” and “brilliant” and “successfully” all over your resume.  It doesn’t count unless you have the facts to back it up.  If all the facts suggest awesomeness, then you are a winner!

Numbers are good.
Numbers are facts that can show you are a winner.  If you made something better, where are the numbers to show it?  For example, numbers, like a GPA, can show you are bright or that you apply yourself and work hard.  Numbers like a % increase in adoption rates or sales for the month help.  But don’t make them up.  Make the best estimate you can and if you’re really just lost, don’t put them at all.  Recruiters and smart interviewers can sniff out fake numbers.  Fake numbers smell kind of like sewage.  yucky.

Who should review your resume?
The more the merrier.  Find a few people you trust and have them look it over for you and give you pointers and feedback.  Have them only spend 30 seconds on your resume and see if they extrapolate everything you wanted to get across about your skills, experiences, and expertise.

No?  Revise it!

Resumes are hard to write, but check out this one from or (I don’t know what the original source is).

I think it’s an okay example, but what might you change about it?

I think it’s an okay example, but what might you change about it?

Congrats, Lisa!

9 10 2009
Lisa on the Great Wall of China (with me in the background)

Lisa on the Great Wall of China (with me in the background)

This is my friend, Lisa.   Up until today, she was awesome and unemployed.  She graduated from UC Riverside this past June and spent the summer traveling only to come back to the states without a job.  Today, she’s got a great job lined up for her at an unnamed awesome company in Northern California (*cough* starts with a G, ends with an e).

In addition to having great experience and being bright, here are some of the great qualities about Lisa and the reasons she is truly awesome and deserves this role.

She has a positive and grateful outlook on life.
Do you know anyone that feels like the world should be handed to him/her on a silver platter?  Those people who demand service without delivering any?  I know a lot of people who think that they should have something because they are smart, attractive or come from a “pedigree” of successful people.  This is not Lisa.  When I told her that the position might be temporary, she said, “Stef, I don’t mind temporary.  I am so new and I really just want to learn and soak up the work experience.  I really don’t mind–I’m just happy to have the opportunity to try.”  She works hard, she’s humble, and knows that there are great things awaiting her in life.

She knows what she brings to the table.
Lisa is honest about what she actually brings to the table and has a genuine interest in helping to solve people’s problems with her skills & expertise.  A lot of candidates walk into a room and try so hard to impress the interviewers with their brains, brawn, money, whatever.  Lisa came as herself.  For better or for worse, she told them all about her experiences and let them decide.

She is introspective.
No one is tougher on Lisa than herself (except maybe her sister, Linda!  Just kidding, Linda 😉 ).  She has high expectations of her own performance and intends on delivering the right and best solution every time.  She is confident about her strengths and recognizes her weaknesses–and is honest about what she knows and doesn’t know.

She is courageous.
Lisa is a strong woman.  She is not afraid to say what she thinks and be strong for others.  When we were traveling together, we were being harassed by some men on the subway.  Lisa put on her “don’t mess with me” face and was ready to let them have it if they tried anything.  She also was able to maneuver others out of the way and take care of herself and her friends/family.  I love this part about Lisa–the loyalty and the willingness to fight for what’s right.

Perhaps I’m just running on about the many reasons I respect Lisa, but these are traits that also translate in an interview.  Don’t be afraid of understanding yourself and bringing your whole self to the table.  If you don’t know you, you won’t be able to tell anyone else about you.  So start being honest and letting them know exactly what excites you, how you operate, and what motivates you to do amazing work.