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August 1, 2008

Writing an Effective Resume

Artwork for this issue is by cartoonist Misako Rocks. Detective Jermain Vol. 1 is out this September. Check out this and more teen illustrated serials at MisakoRocks.com

When it comes to job searching, resumes are the simplest thing you're going to have to do. All it is (basically) is a list of your experiences and accomplishments. It's a shortcut for the employer to sum you up in one page.

It's a bum deal 'cuz you're way more interesting than one page. Which is what makes the resume the most important thing you're going to have to do when it comes to the job search. Express yourself...without really doing so.

Here's a list of tips to help you out.

#1 - Format, format, format.

Don't just sit down and think you can write a resume without having ever looked at a sample first. An improperly formatted resume will tell the employer, "I don't care about getting this job." It's the equivalent of wearing flip-flops and your kindergarten camp tee with puffy paint to the interview. Bad idea.

Here are some sample formats you can look at: About.com/teenstudentgrad

#2 - Be brief

Keep it one page MAXIMUM. No exceptions.

The key to a resume is to say A LOT in a small amount of space. It's not nice, but employers will relate the resume to you as a person. If it's a chore to get through, they'll suppose you too are a chore.

Say for example that you worked at your high school newspaper as the editor and a writer. Not only did you research stories, interview people for them, write and edit them, but you also set them on the page, organized the newspaper itself, and distributed them among your peers. That's a lot of work! But don't make it sound that way.

Instead, that experience on your resume might look like this:

TEEN INK ACADEMY --- September 2004 - 2008

Newspaper Editor and Writer

- Wrote, interviewed for, and researched content articles.

- Edited, proofread, and organized the layout for each monthly issue.

There. Done. Short, to the point, yet hits on everything you did. If you're really good, you'll whet their appetite and make them want to ask you more. That's what the interview is for.

Also notice how in 4 lines you told the employer WHERE you worked, WHEN, WHAT you did, and HOW you did it.

#3 - Make it Action-Packed

Always use action words. Take the example above for Teen Ink Academy. Each bullet point sentence begins with a verb.

Don't Do:

TEEN INK ACADEMY --- September 2004 - 2008

Newspaper Editor and Writer

- I wrote, I set up and interviewed people, and I read a lot to create articles.

- Once all articles were in, I edited and proofread them then organized the layout for each issue, every month.

You know why action books catch you right away? Ever know how an author creates immediacy? They use action verbs. Get there fast. You wrote. You interviewed. You edited, proofread, organized.

Hint: after your first draft, cross out all the extra words that are not action words. This will help you decide which words can be left out, and which will get right to the point.

#4 - Have Fun With It

A resume is largely serious. It's your business side. But at the end, in the Additional section is where you can express a little bit of your personality and round yourself out.

For example, don't be afraid to list riding horses as a hobby if that's what you do, or that you love baseball, or that you're a bibliophile.

Example:

Additional

- Proficient in Mac and PC platforms, big Dodger fan, an equestrian, and a movie fanatic.

#5 - But Not Too Much Fun

It's funny when Ella Woods hands out a pink scented resume, but in reality, it's not funny at all. Do not get creative with your fonts or styles. Do not use funky paper. Do not use colors. This is not to suppress your creative individuality, it's just that in the working world it is considered immature. There is a time for creativity, and it is not in a resume.

Now you're ready to start writing your resume! Don't worry if you go through a couple drafts. Try giving it to your parents to see what they think. Chances are they've had to write a few in their lifetimes. Also, most word processing programs have a Resume option. Take advantage of these, they're often creative and pre-formatted.

Happy applying, and good luck!

Next week, Extra Ink will explore how to make a good impression in your interview.

P.S. Call For Submissions: Are you touring colleges this summer? Tell us what you think of them. Did the dorms stink? Were they too small? Was the cafeteria food amazing? Was it in a big city, or in the middle of nowhere? Send us your College Reviews now, and save your peers from the bad choices, and point them in the direction of the good.

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"Detective Jermain" artwork by Misako Rocks. See more illustrations from this great and witty teen cartoonist at www.misakorocks.com.

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