Students and Grads: Resume Boot Camp III

April 1, 2009 at 4:23 pm Leave a comment

dsc_00412Penned by Carolyn

By now, you’re back from spring break and have been furiously de-tagging all those photos to keep them out of the hands of recruiters and hiring managers (here’s the New York Times’ take on personal branding – he’s even more disgruntled than me).

Before work kicks back up again, take a few minutes to refine your resume. Focusing on the actual meat of your resume — work experience and positions held — here are tips on making your achievements powerful and to-the-point.

As a general framework, career coaches sometimes talk about the CAR technique:

  • Circumstance means setting the scene — what challenges were you facing in the role? What goals did you have?
  • Action: describe what you did to handle the circumstance. Use verbs.
  • Result: what was the outcome that you achieved?

Specifically, here are some tips and tricks:

  1. Give context — the months or years you worked, a very brief description of the group or company if it’s not well-known, and where the position was located.
  2. Use numbers — as many as possible. This will help you avoid being vague (though clearly make sure the content is relevant).
  3. Use bullet points. Sentences glom together and are hard to glance over. Bullet points are easily digestible for hiring managers.
  4. Make it relevant to the job you’re applying for. Map your achievements to the skills/qualifications the company is looking for, and get rid of or downplay the rest.

So, here’s what one of your positions might look like (this one’s a bit on the long end):

1/07-3/07 Research AssistantThe Center on Ecotourism and Sustainable Development, Stanford, CA.

  • Chosen by a visiting professor as one of two research assistants to quantify and codify ecotourism operators’ manners of addressing the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from travel.
  • Wrote and distributed a web-based survey of 150 tourism operators on 6 continents.
  • Compiled and processed data on tourism operators’ use of carbon offsetting programs using SPSS; created 25 charts to display results using Excel.
  • Co-authored 30-page report published on The International Ecotourism Society’s website in 2007.

Go wild! And if you need a breather, check out this list of hilariously stupid things people have written on their resumes.


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