One of the most essential bits of advice often overlooked in resume building is the underlying foundation of the process: valuing yourself. You have right now within your grasp the makings and materials of your own success, whether they are physical, mental, or any other kind.
Sometimes these materials within us are hard to recognize; they often go unrealized until they manifest themselves in our work and accomplishments. Then with delays, trials, and disappointments these talents become masked once again, often leading us down the trail of self-depreciating thoughts and harsh judgments.
Here are 3 simple steps to de-clutter the nonsense and focus on the essential: your unique contribution as a female scholar, leader, team player, or whatever you may be. Once you are able to value yourself in your mind (giving yourself the credit you no doubt deserve), you will not have to try very hard to detail these things concisely, effectively, and purposefully in writing.
Make a List of Your Accomplishments
The first piece of advice, and the most constructive of the three, begins with a list. Take the time you need, whether it is ten minutes to one hour, to grab a notebook and sit down in a thoughtful session of glorifying YOU. If you are at home, school, or work find a quiet enough space to let your mind dust off the cobwebs and recall the last few years of your academics or professional career.
Dig out past assignments, letters of reference, even hard copy certificates and accolades to place in front of yourself. These individual testaments of your worth should meld together in your mind like a collage. This beautiful collection gathered through time and effort on your part is solely unique, and that is exactly what you want others to understand. These accomplishments that praise you (do not make you) but complement parts of yourself others have witnessed. Much like a historian, your task in viewing these information sources is to identify patterns – patterns in your life, studies, work, and extracurriculars.
By highlighting and pinpointing the pockets of your interest and success, you are able to group the long list of past achievements you have made. Give these areas of your life titles, such as community service, civic engagement, business leadership, etc. All in all, you need no more than three titles for the entire one page resume for formatting purposes. A possible outline of headlines could follow as such: Academics, Business Leadership, and Civic Engagement.
Group and Prioritize
The second step requires prioritizing the truly important elements from that grouping. Unlike galleries or collections of art, people are not appreciated for being eclectic in their resume. Your readers do need to know about all the organizations where you hold membership unless your presence there has made an impact and where your efforts are enduring and recognized.
Narrow down your list of accomplishments which you will expand upon in your resume. Place each one under a headline designation, such as academic leadership.
Focus on Your Skills
Now, the third step is assessing what skills were required to accomplish these. So say you were speech team captain, editor of the school newspaper, and soprano section leader in choir. What do all of these roles have in common? Certainly one could name a multitude of things, but the most obvious is communication. Your ability to recognize what skills were necessary in these leadership roles will add flavor to the topics of interest you self-selected from your list of accomplishments.
To make a deliciously appealing and aromatic resume requires an understanding of your ingredients, namely the skills you are bringing to the table. These skills will translate into one-word adjectives such as communicator, organizer, innovator, or founder for instance. Your identified one-word adjectives, such as communicator, will introduce in bullet point fashion your accomplishments.
Pull It All Together
At this point if you have followed all three steps you should have a list of accomplishments within various organizations whether they be work, extracurricular, academic, etc. These three to five roles will fall into broad categories such as community service or business leadership. Under each role you should have a rough list of three bullet points which give a picture of the ways you made an impact in that role from start to finish, perhaps even acknowledging a challenge overcome during the process. Quantifying impact is often effective and can speak volume in a word-dominated text.
While colleges across the country have different formatting standards, these three steps will give a good start to anyone with the intent of presenting a dynamic, uniquely tailored resume.
Nicole Chacin will graduate in 2015 from George Washington University with a degree in business economics and public policy with a minor in vocal music. She plans on getting a JD/MBA after college and dreams of working in health policy and administration. She was a part of the first Forté College Leadership Conference is the creative designer and co-founder of Chicago Boutique.