Today, my post comes out of necessity. I was taking my time to roll out my Brash Jobs series, but that was before COVID-19 became a world-wide crisis. With friends and fellow library peeps in the field being off without pay or worse, I realized these people will need the tools of the trade much faster than anticipated. Without further ado, let’s start started. Today, I go over the much-debated art of the resume.
My general disclaimer before we begin: These are tools and techniques that have worked for me and others. They are a push-off point to get you started, and you are welcome to alter them as needed.
This is often the hardest part of putting the actual resume together. Microsoft Word and Google have thousands of resume templates and designs with cute photos, swoopy letters and things you probably don’t want. Today, for the first time ever, I am releasing my personal template. I’ve shared this with friends, family and colleagues before, but never to the public. Click here to get the template, download it and start polishing.
This is a customized version of a template I acquired from a business school that might rhyme with Shmarvard. Now let’s explain the tips/rationale behind it and how to make it work for you.
Keep it to one page.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve worked 2 jobs or 200, it needs to stick to one page. Having been on both sides of the hiring table, I promise it matters. Those looking to hire will be going through dozens (if not hundreds) of applicants. During this stage, management will look for anything to make that list smaller; the easiest way is removing anyone with more than one page. Don’t give them the chance to toss you into the trash bin! I recently discussed resumes with one of my friends who is hiring for her company, a rather large and famous one in Orlando. To paraphrase her, “if you’re not organized enough to stay on one page, you’re not organized enough to work here”.
Skype says “I’m moderately tech-savvy and can do video chat interviews” but also implies that you’re comfortable with relocating for a position if selected.
I have mixed thoughts about LinkedIn. Some people swear by it and use the paid version to get business contacts and grow their global influence. Some people use it simply because it’s a shiny object and feel like they “should” have one. I believe the truth lies somewhere in the middle as a good networking tool that help you research organizations and connect with people in your field. Either way, you should have one. You don’t have to be Richard Branson posting throughout the day, but you should at least have an account. If I look up a candidate and see they’re not on LinkedIn, I see that as a red flag. Put it on your resume tells them “you don’t have to check if I have one, it’s right here!”
USE YOUR ACTIVE VERBS
By this, I mean make your sentences active. Make yourself the subject of the sentence, not something else. For example
Active: The boy kicked the ball.
Passive: The ball was kicked by the boy.
See how much weaker that passive sentence was? Passive verbs waste space and lack action – two things you can’t afford to do on a resume. Passive verbs include:
You want managers to read about your actions, not actions you were a part of. Do you want to tell them “I was part of the committee that helped revise our circulation policy”, or do you want to tell them “I assisted in re-writing our circulation policies and procedures”? The active verbs give more information with less words and make you an active A-squad instead of a sideline B-squad in your resume.
Don’t be afraid to highlight one or two really impressive achievements
If you’ve done something impressive, put it in bold to catch their eye. When I was the Technical Services Manager at my previous library, all of our packaging (spine label, barcode, security tag, mylar book jackets) was done in-house. Depending on how many books were coming in, we might have a backlog ranging from hours or even a day before it was shelf-ready. When I signed us up for pre-packaging through our vendors, books came in ready to go and could be on the shelf within minutes. When I crunched the numbers, this turned out to be 28 times faster. Did I highlight that I streamlined our process to be 2800% faster? Yup, I sure did.
I cannot overstate how important this can be. In the grand scheme of resumes and job hunting, it gets boring. HR people and library managers alike tend to zone out when looking at hundreds of applicants. If you’re evenly matched with another candidate, a special skill just may be the feather that tips the scales. You’d be amazed how many interviews I’ve gotten simply because “you’re a SCUBA diver and magician?”
“Additional Information Upon Request”
This one is up to you. I’ve met some people who pretentiously say, “I can’t believe some people still put ‘additional information’ at the bottom of their resume”; I’ve also met some people who enjoy the principal of it. In short, put it if you want and have room, leave it if you don’t want it or don’t have room.
- No crazy fonts: It makes you look crazy, nobody wants to hire the Comic Sans/Joker person.
- No crazy format: If it jumps everywhere and looks like a kidnapper letter from the movies, it’ll go in the trash before they have a stroke trying to read it.
- No photo or swoopy letters: You’ll think “it looks nice”, they’ll think “that’s a waste of space”.
- Sizing and proportion: If you don’t have enough to fit the page, increase the font. If it doesn’t all fit, decrease the font. Make it fit and fill the page!
- Don’t overlap job duties: If you had two jobs that included XYZ, put it XYZ in only one of them so you have enough room to talk about ABC.
Comments? Questions? Send me a message and I’ll be happy to help.
I plan to post about cover letters, I plan to post once a week during this quarantine to help those who might need it now. Stay safe and don’t give up out there. We’re all rooting for you!
Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian