What’s in a resume?

Before anything else, let me clarify that there is not only one correct way to do write your resume. I’ve noticed before that certain schools / universities teach their students certain ways to write their curriculum vitae or resumes. Perhaps I am lucky that I didn’t have the luxury of having my university “force” a certain CV template on me. Circumstance pushed me to discover how to write my own CV.

This is the way I wrote my very first CV – I got a few sample CVs from people I knew who were working already, as well as from online. I fused them altogether, selected the things that I thought were essential to who I am or to what I wanted to apply for, and highlighted the items that show my strengths.

A few tips when making your own resume:

  1. Please, please, please, NO SCENTED STATIONERY!
  2. Unfortunately in our country, it is almost an essential to put a picture in your resume. However, please remember to use a recent photo. An ID picture would be your best shot, and not a cut-out from your out-of-town picture with friends, or your grad ball picture. Also, if it’s been years after you’ve graduated, stop using your graduation picture for your resume.
  3. To highlight your best “asset” or experience, put it at the very first part of the document, right after your name and your contact details. If you’re from the best university in town and you’ve got nothing more to boast, put your educational history first. If you have related work experience, then write that first. Remember that not all HR and managers looking for people to hire will have enough time to read through your resume. You have the first part of your resume to capture their attention. There may not be a need to keep it at one page only, but keep it as short as possible, with as much content that you can put in.
  4. Do away with the “career objectives” part, especially if you’re only going to say “My objective is to belong to a company that will allow me to be at my full potential, yadda yadda” or whatever it is you could say just to suck up to the company you’re applying for. I have never seen a single resume with a good “career objectives” part, and it really isn’t necessary, so just do away with that.
  5. Always, always, always CHECK YOUR GRAMMAR. I’ve seen a lot of resumes that have violated this simple rule.
  6. Don’t put anything in your resume that you cannot properly explain. Besides getting you an interview, the contents of your resume will be the basis of a lot of questions during your interview. There was one time I interviewed someone who couldn’t properly explain to me what his major meant, and of course I didn’t recommend that we get him for the position we needed. Know and understand every position and project and topic you write in your resume.
  7. I am super OC with layout, and I want everything properly aligned, so I also notice that in resumes. But that’s just me. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to prepare your resumes for possible OC people like me.
  8. There is no need to include your achievements in high school, unless they are quite exceptional, or is related to the work that you are applying for. Also if you’ve long graduated from college and have a lot of good work experience, you can already do away with your college extra-curricular activities.
  9. Please don’t ever write “Character Reference – Available Upon Request”. It’s either you put it or you don’t. If you’re not planning to put any names, just delete the entire section altogether. If you’re willing to put some people’s names in, choose people that are of equal or higher position than you, and someone who you are not related to by blood. A former supervisor or professor is your best bet. A classmate or colleague would be ok too. Just remember to advise them that you have put them as your Character Reference so that they won’t be surprised when your potential employers contact them about you.

These are the things I think should be the basic contents of your resume (in no particular order)

  • Full Name
  • Address
  • Contact Numbers
  • Email Address
  • Date of Birth
  • Work Experience (Position, Work Description, Duration)
  • Trainings/Conferences Attended (Title, Date, Organizer / Resource Speaker)
  • Languages and Skills
  • Education (Level, School, School Years covered)
  • Extra-Curricular Involvement (Event/Activity, Date, Role/Position, Description of Task)
  • University Affiliations (Organization, Position, Duration)
  • Academic Projects Undertaken (Project Title, Description, Date)
  • Character Reference

Below I have attached a sample resume, not a template but a dummy resume I have created for a non-existent person. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Sample Resume

Of course, as I’ve said, there is not only one correct way to write your resume, so feel free to tweak this, or any sample resumes you can get your hands on, and write about the best version of yourself on a few sheets of paper.

2 thoughts on “What’s in a resume?

    1. Yes that’s true! Put your achievements in your resume because it will definitely show potential employers what you’re worth! As for the cover letter, I think it really depends on what you’re applying for. It’s good to include an outstanding cover letter, but if your resume is already outstanding, it can do on its own.

      Thanks for the tip Diane!

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