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 careeroverview.com 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.

Name
Address
Contact phone, email

OBJECTIVE

State your objective here

EDUCATION

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

EXPERIENCE

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)

AWARDS

  • 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).

EXTRACURRICULARS

  • 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!

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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!





My New Year’s Resolution

9 01 2010

Disclaimer:  This post is highly philosophical.  It’s about changing the way you think and how you approach your work and life.  Happy new year to all!

—-

Happy Twenty-ten, Awesome and almost employed!

I apologize for taking such a long time between posts.  I’ve been working on a big project all quarter and it’s truly taken up a lot of my time (and sanity)!  Even this first week back hasn’t lighted up at all.  That being said, I’m here, I’m yours.  All my attention for the duration of this post is dedicated to you.  (Side thought: Apologies if you sent me an email and I didn’t get back to you.  I will!)

When I looked at what I could do differently this year, compared to previous years, I kept coming back to the same thing:  Operate with love.

Before you run screaming, “Stefanie has lost her marbles.  This ain’t a dating blog.”  Hear me out.  (Although, it could be a dating blog, too.  Would you like that?)

Everyone I have ever admired operates with this philosophy AT WORK.  If you do what you do for your own glory, you’re standing alone at the finish line.  Isn’t it better to have a whole hoard of close colleagues, friends, family, and fans cheering you on?  You may not be this loving, giving person now, but I am altruistic enough to believe that we can all operate with love.  It’s this passion that improves the world and gives others hope to be better than they are.  (Think Mahatma Ghandi, Betty Williams, and Matt Flannery, Founder of Kiva.org.)  In your own way, with your own work (whatever it is), this should be you, too.

Embarrassing note:  This Nickleback video moved me to the brink of tears in my office one day!  (Thanks, Judy.)

Example #1:  My dad.
When I graduated, my dad and I talked about what I would possibly be.  He told me that no matter what I did, I should give back to others.  He dedicated his entire life to microbiology and genetics.  I wish you guys could see the look on his face when he talks about finding genetic connections and cures for cancers.  My dad is one person, trying to change the world (and every day he does)!

Example #2: Gopi Kallayil
After yoga, my teacher, Gopi, sat a few of us down and talked about the philosophy behind yoga and meditation and how they are all pathways to love and God (Hindu in his case).  Gopi is extremely successful, well-liked and respected at work and he’s someone that I always want to emulate.  When we asked him what his secret was, I was surprised when he told us that it was this yoga philosophy of love.  His motivations for creating phenomenal work product are not for himself, but they are for the greater good of others.  Giving love freely is his secret to success!  Transferring love into his work and then giving it freely, without sense of ownership (mine, mine, mine), has gotten him far.

When I think about my own career at work, this has also applied.  The times when I’ve been fully committed to helping someone else are the times that I’ve received the most recognition and satisfaction in my work.  Hmm… maybe we’re on to something here.

Example #3: Chade Meng Tan

Meng, like Gopi, is one of my favorite Googlers.  Meng is on a mission for world peace one person at a time.  He teaches a course about emotional intelligence and self-awareness called, “Searching Inside Yourself”.  I’m an alumnus of the class and learning from Meng has really changed how I operate.  Not only have I become more introspective, but I have learned to love myself and forgive me for my mistakes and for others’ mistakes and ill will.  Granted, there are still some really SHITTY people out there, but you know what?  It doesn’t change the fact that we all want to feel loved and respected.

Example #4: Alex Duong, actually–he’s just like us!  But here’s how he’s different.

Alex has been working as a consultant for a few years after graduating from UC Berkeley.  At some point, he decided he needed a change of pace.  He applied to Kiva.org and now he’s a Kiva Fellow in Vietnam reviewing loan grants and supporting small business owners in the country.  The impact he, and the other fellows, are leaving behind are going to transform these communities.  He’s helping these small business owners and entrepreneurs one loan at a time.  Read about their experiences here.

Even your manager, an executive, and your recruiter needs love.  Imagine if you approached them with love, forgiveness, and without judgement–what might change in your relationship with this person?

Most importantly, how does this help you in an interview?  In your job search?

Seek problems and aim to solve them for a company.  Before you walk in or before you apply, ask yourself, “What is my motivation?”  Are you doing this for your own glory or are you doing this with a genuine desire to add your expertise to a solution?  It can still be a little of both, but make sure that when you deliver your work (or answers in an interview), you’re delivering it for others.  You’re part of a larger purpose.

This kind of thought leadership is contagious and can dramatically improve your relationships with the people you meet in the interview process.  If they know that you are a point of positive energy (I’m not talking about hyper energy, but positive energy), they will want you.  Be present.  Be engaged.  Be supportive, giving, and smart.  Give it your all, give it freely, and have a fantastic 2010.

With love and respect,

Stefanie





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 MajoringInCareers.com or alfreeresume.net (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.





Value in Volunteering

19 09 2009

Now that I’m finally back from vacation and over my reverse culture shock, I’ll stop neglecting you, Awesome and Unemployed!  I had amazing adventures in China.  Here’s one photo of me on the Great Wall of China!

Photo of me on the Great Wall of China

While I was away, an old friend of mine emailed me to talk about his unemployment situation.   Here’s his strategy:

I’ve been unemployed now for a little over 13 months. Supporting myself by playing poker while I look for a real job. For the record, I don’t consider myself to be a professional poker player (though I seem to get that label a lot), my circumstances are fortunate enough to let me do this by and scrape by. Anyways, I’ve categorized my job hunt into 2 categories:
Category A) Jobs to fill my time. This includes counter monkey-type jobs, serving, bartending, etc. And;
Category B) Jobs in line with my career. Marketing-related fields where I’m trying to get in with a number of agencies in town.

He’s currently looking for category A jobs, completely unrelated to his field, while he waits for the recession to lift.  (Side note:  It’s lifting.)  But the category A companies wouldn’t even hire him because he had too much category B experience.

My thoughts?  STICK TO THE CATEGORY B ROLES!  During my unemployment, I thought long and hard about what I wanted to do in life.  I knew that I needed experience and I didn’t really have any, so here was my approach.

I researched small companies in the area that were doing what I wanted to do.  Small companies need the help.  They really don’t have a lot of resources and if you’re a smart, capable individual, they could really use your help.

I found Winslow & Associates, a small event planning company in San Francisco, which was responsible for most of the well-known non-profit events in San Francisco.  The more I read about Lynne Winslow and her company, the more intrigued I became.  I emailed Lynne.

Dear Ms. Winslow,

I hope this email finds you well!  My name is Stefanie and I’m a recent graduate that just realized my life’s ambition: to plan spectacular events that raise awareness and financial support for charitable causes.  I have so much respect for the events that you and your associates put on, and I wanted to write you to see if I could learn more about event planning.

Would you be opposed to having an extra hand around the office as an intern or volunteer for your company?  I will work without compensation and am willing to work as hard as possible to learn about this industry.  I will do anything that you need me to do.  I’m positive, proactive, and resourceful and I currently reside in San Francisco, so transportation is not a problem.

Since I know you are very busy, I’ve enclose my resume.  I know that you are not hiring new employees at the moment, but I hope you find that I will have the basic skills necessary to assist your team as an intern or volunteer.  I am committed to this dream and I hope I will prove to be an asset to your company if you should take me.

If you would like to speak with me more or if you have any questions, you may contact me via email at me@ gmail.com or via telephone at (415) 555-5555.

Sincerely,
Stefanie Lau
Recent UC Davis Graduate

P.S.  I volunteered the past 4 years at the Academy of Friends Oscar Gala and your company truly does a spectacular job with that event.  I will be volunteering this year again and many years to come.  If you are not looking for help at this moment, I would love to take you out to coffee to learn about what you do and all the work that you have put into your company.  Thanks for your time!

(Caveat:  That was my dream after college and what I’ve wanted has changed since then, but I’m thankful I had the opportunity to learn.)

Lynne’s reaction?  YES, YES, YES! 🙂

She needed the help and she found that I had the skills to learn and get the job done.  She brought me in for a quick interview and signed be on as a part time intern making minimum wage ($10/hr).  It wasn’t much, but Lynne saved me.  Here’s how:

  1. I got off my @$$ and started being productive.
  2. I learned a lot about being detail oriented and applying tools like Excel, Word, and databases.
  3. I got to learn from the best in the industry and see how they managed their small company and negotiated with vendors, secured clients, stretched miracles out of a tight budget, and delivered spectacular events.
  4. I kept my skills current.

When I got my job with Google, she was not happy.  “You will miss this, Stefanie.”  She told me she was going to hire me and that she fully expected me to stay in touch and involved in her events.  I have stayed in touch and helped her secure some corporate clients, as well.  For everything that Lynne saw in me, I’m grateful and will pay it forward and back as much as I can.

How is this relevant to you?  Well, let me ask you–what kinds of jobs are you looking for in this recession?  How can you keep your skills current and learn the newest trends in the industry?  Volunteer your time.  Someone needs you, somewhere.  Do your research, email the person in charge, and tell them why you’re awesome and here to solve their problems.

Go out there, conquer and succeed!

(Afterthought–I think this is another tip I learned from Charles Caudill.  Charlie, you’re the best!)





45% of Employers Screen Social Media Profiles (Mashable)

26 08 2009

I thought this article from Mashable was especially interesting.  As a follow up to my guest post on Recession Mama, I thought I’d share this sobering information with you awesome people.

CareerBuilder.com surveyed over 2,000 employers and found that 45% of them are using social media profiles (i.e. your Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and other pages) as part of the screening/recruiting process.

Does this scare anyone?

Let me scare you some more.

According to the study, “thirty-five percent of employers reported they have found content on social networking sites that caused them not to hire the candidate.” The big lessons you can learn are quite obvious, but bear repeating. Provocative photos and info are a bad idea (53% of employers won’t hire you), shared content with booze and drugs is also highly dangerous (44% dismissed candidates for this reason), and bad-mouthing former employers is very risky behavior (35% reported this a the main reason they didn’t hire a candidate).

-Jennifer Van Grove, Mashable blogger, 8/19/09 (http://mashable.com/2009/08/19/social-media-screening/)

As much as you want to remember the great times with the keg stand, it’s so important to make sure those photos are private.  It’s like running for president.  To quote Bill Clinton, “I tried marijuana once, but I did not inhale.”  Or how about this photo of Michael Phelps?

He almost ruined his entire reputation as a serious athlete with this photo.  What makes you so different?  Why would you be the exception to the rule?

I knew of a guy who blogged about “what a joke” his interviews were and how easy it was to get an offer from this company.  What happened?  His offer was rescinded immediately.

Employers want to know that they are hiring someone who is respectable and represents their business well.  In client interfacing roles, this is especially important.  What if a client happens to come across your profile… and you have a photo of yourself passed out on the sidewalk from your 21st birthday?

Not so hot, right?  They will wonder–is this guy serious?  Is he really trying to build a relationship with me when he can’t even compose himself?  The photo, of course, is completely out of context, but unfortunately, no one is going to ask about the circumstances around one inappropriate photo.

Don’t be that person.  Leverage social media to your advantage.  Or just make everything private!