Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Resume 101 - Revision

By now you have been through the entire resume creation process once and have an excellent resume, or at least you did some time ago. Some time has passed, you have gained new skills, and now you need to add those skills to your resume. Because you continue to gain new experience and skills throughout your life, it becomes necessary to regularly update your resume.

The easiest way to do this is to go through a similar process to which you created your resume. In general, you will brainstorm for your new skills, evaluate if your resume needs any big changes, write out these new skills in detail, and then integrate those skills into your resume. This is an excellent chance to replace current skills with new, more important, and more relevant skills. This entire revision process, from personal experience, usually takes an hour or two if you are updating your resume monthly.

Your resume could take longer to revise if you decide to switch which resume format you are using or if you find a position you want to apply for which is different from which your resume is currently aimed at. Depending on how drastic the change you make, the resume revision process may feel more like when your resume was first created. However, if you have saved all of your old brainstorming ideas or kept an in-depth master resume, making large changes can happen quickly.

After you think you are done revising, there are a few details that should get a final look. Go over your entire resume making sure items like your address, phone number, and email address are all up to date. All dates on your resume should be double checked to make sure they are still accurate, and also check the older bullet points for jobs you still have since something may have changed. Last, proofread thoroughly. Nothing is worse than introducing grammatical errors into an otherwise perfect resume. After the final proofread, you are done with this revision and are one step closer to landing an interview.

And if you are ever unsure of your current revision, the UIS Career Development Center is available for advice and assistance. The UIS Career Development Center is located in SAB 50 or you can contact us at 206-6508 or

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Formatting Your Resume

So now that you have made it through most of the resume steps it’s important you do not settle for what you have before doing some formatting. Formatting choices come down to what the individual chooses however we have some great suggestions for you!

Some common suggestions include
• Make your name and contact information large! You want the employer to be able to read it, or even glance and the top and have it stand out. Don’t be scared to personalize it a bit, maybe pick a different font for your name…let it become your own personal letterhead. Include this heading on your cover letter, resume, and references page (yes these are all documents you will need and most definitely they are all separate, this means no references on your resume!)
• Avoid white space. White space on a resume give the appearance of it being empty, use up all that great space you have. If you need to change your margins a little bit do so (try not to go smaller than .5 around).
• Another helpful hint is that changing your font to a minimum of 11 size font and the margins will allow you to use your paper to the max. Not only are you avoiding the dreaded white space but you also are more likely to fit your information onto one page, the ideal length (unless you have excessive relevant experiences).
• Aligning all your dates along the right margin looks great. Not only is this eye catching but it also makes it easier on the employer when they are looking over your information, this will give your some brownie points!
• With that said bullet points work wonders! Avoid writing in paragraph form, its likely the employer will not take the time to look at it (remember a resume is only looked at for about 45 seconds…its purpose is not to get you the job but an interview!
• Use the same format for your dates throughout, using months is always the most ideal!
• When including dates arrange things in reverse-chronological order (starting with the most recent).
• Use past tense action verbs when writing abilities, skills, and competencies from previous positions. Notice: I wrote abilities, skills, and competencies NOT duties from past experiences!
• When handing in a resume use resume paper. This paper is a little heavier than normal copy paper and comes in different colors (ivory, white, off white, beige, etc.)

Need help?
Stop by the Career Development Center. Our walk-in hours are 11-1 Tuesday-Friday. If this window doesn’t work for you simply call 206-6508 and set up an appointment!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Resume 101 - Organizing Information

After you have all of your content typed up on the page, you will want to consider which points should go where. Often, students simply follow a template when they organize the information. While this often works just fine, some students may find that they wish to emphasize different parts of their resume to cater to a specific employer.

There are a few easy ways to emphasize information to an employer:
  • Separating Information
  • Changing the Location
  • Using Headings
  • Quantifying Information

Separating information helps to organize information by letting the employer know where each point begins. A great way to do this is with bullet points. By separating out each task into a bullet, you make it much easier to skim through and find information. Bulleting works especially well when you start off with action verbs, because this puts the most important part of your sentence at the far left. Also, bulleting helps the employer get an idea of which skill area you may have a lot of experience in- their eyes will be drawn to the sections with more bullet points, because those would seem more important.

The location of information also has an impact on how the employer will read your resume. On a resume, the most important information should go to the top of the section, likewise the most important sections should go to the top of the page. This means that your name, which is the focal point of your resume, should be right at the top of the page, followed by the objective. The other sections are more flexible, but typically for recent graduates, the education section becomes the next most important.

Headings also help the employer to be able to skim your document. Make sure that they are easily visible to the naked eye. In my opinion, headings should be either one or two font points bigger, or perhaps bolded, and they look better when they are aligned to the left (they tend to get lost in the center unless they are accompanied by decorative lines). Another note- make sure the headings are accurate and straightforward.

If you still can’t figure out which information to put first, think about the quantities attached to them. If you spent more of your time on customer service tasks than on clerical tasks, that may help you decide where to put things. Employers will typically assume that the points near the top are the most recent and/or most important.

Need some advice on which skills or qualifications you should emphasize? Call 206-6508 to schedule a 20-minute quick stop appointment at the CDC, or drop by our walk in hours, Tuesday – Friday from 11 – 1 in SAB 50.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Crunch Time...

Since there are only four days from now until the LSAT, my brain has officially moved into panic mode. Thanksgiving break went by a LOT faster than I expected, and I don't feel like I'm nearly prepared to take this test. I took a prep course a while back, and it helped a little, but between homework and final exams and term papers, I haven't had time to just sit down and study. So for those of you who're interested, here's my current plan of attack:
  1. Work through bits and pieces of some online sample tests tonight
  2. Read through those dusty practice books tomorrow
  3. Panic a little bit... then work through more practice tests
  4. Play a few logic puzzles (my least favorite part of the LSAT)
  5. Get a good night's sleep on Friday

Are any of you planning on taking a graduate school entrance exam? Have you ever taken one before? I think everyone applying for grad school and taking entrance exams could use some awesome study (or cramming) tips, or even just advice about how to not stress out!