Students and Grads: Bright Green’s Resume Boot Camp I

March 9, 2009 at 4:37 am 1 comment

Carolyn HeadshotPenned by Carolyn

For the past few weeks, I’ve been rattling on about prepping yourself for the job search, meeting people, and generally avoiding disaster as you try to find a green job. However, if your job search is anything like mine was come March of my senior year, your mom probably isn’t really buying the “I’m taking it slow and making sure I do it right” excuse anymore.

Given everything I’ve said about students and grads having a hard time differentiating themselves, your resume and cover letter might be the only shot you have to do so, so you need to take some time on it and get it right.

So, with the usual disclaimer that everyone’s case is different, here are some general tips for what to include in your resume and what you should definitely leave out (more to come as Bright Green launches our green jobseeker services in the next week or two).

First things first: your resume should be one page. You shouldn’t have a two page resume until you’ve been out of school for ten years. People have short attention spans, so you need to get to the point.

Brag all you want:

  • Awards and grants. Don’t be modest – if you won the international Rubiks Cube tournament or were named smartest student in the Slavic Studies department, play it up. Even better if you can say how many people you beat out for the award or grant.
  • Concrete achievements. Include all the jobs, internships, and positions you’ve held in student groups.  More on how to present these next week.

Proceed with caution:

  • A low GPA. No one requires you to include your GPA; if it’s not awesome, you don’t need to stress about not including it.
  • Your SAT scores. Haven’t we all suffered enough for this test without bringing it into the job search? You took it at least 4 years ago, and it’s not even on the same scoring system anymore. If you got a perfect score, okay — but lay it to rest if your scores weren’t stellar.
  • Discussions of religious/political beliefs. You don’t need to make your resume totally secular if you’ve been heavily involved in religious life or play down that you campaigned for your local congressperson, but your resume shouldn’t come across as any sort of manifesto.
  • TMI (too much information) — like how much you love your girlfriend or how recently you’ve had a dental cleaning. If interests of yours aren’t obvious in your resume, you can list them at the bottom in a “Skills/Other interests” section, but think through how they’ll come across.

My rule of thumb: think about a 45-year-old reading your resume – channel someone like your 5th grade teacher. What makes you sound like a serious candidate, and what makes you sound ridiculous? (Hint: unless you can make some convincing arguments about what you learned about event planning, don’t just list all the frat parties you helped buy kegs for.)

Next week: how to actually write all of this up into one page of pure Bright Green genius.

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Tom’s (Rules of) Thumb: What’s the best way to find a green job? To School or Not to School? That is the question.

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