What a Resume is Good For
The most common mistake people make with their resume, young and old, is to write a resume that makes the case for hiring you. No smart company is ever going to hire you on the basis of your resume, so don't even try. Your goal is to have me read your resume and think, "Hey, this person sounds really interesting, I should set up a phone call with them." And that's it. If you want to, you could really stop reading here - once you understand the critical purpose of a resume, everything else is just details. So let's really drive the point home: a resume's only purpose is to get someone, anyone, to read it and be interested in you.
If you're still with me, let's start things off with...
How to Write Your First Resume
- Put your name and contact information at the top of the page, in a font larger than anything else you'll put on the page.
- Start a section called "Education", and include:
- the name of your college or university,
- the name of your degree program,
- and your GPA. Please consider your GPA to be mandatory. Your career counselor will likely advise you not to list your GPA if it's below some threshold (usually a 3.0), but please go ahead and list it anyway. It's easier for all of us if a weak GPA can be weighed against all the other information on your resume at the same time. To put it another way: if you have a really strong resume with no GPA listed, you leave a big gnawing unknown out in the ether. If you at least list your 2.8 GPA and then go on to tell me about a whole bunch of awesome stuff you've done, I can make an informed decision about whether to proceed; if your GPA isn't on your resume, I'm likely to pass it over without ever talking to you.
* Real example taken from the Carnegie Mellon undergraduate curriculum circa 1996.