Friday, April 25, 2008

My advice for writing a resume

As you can tell, I haven't had much time to post in my blog lately. I have been very busy searching for jobs, as I want to have one secured by the time I graduate from BU in May.

Along the way, I did a lot of research to find what the best way is to write a resume. One page or two? Education or work experience first? Include everything or not? Here are some of the basic tips that I've learned that I hope will help some of my friends and peers graduating in May.

1) Keep it to one page
The multi-page resumes are for working professionals with more than a decade of experience. Now that it's graduation season, HR departments are getting tons and tons of entry-level applicants, and only have the time to quickly skim your resume, if that. So keep it to one page.

2) Customize your resume for each job
This may be time consuming, but it's worth it. For example, if you're applying for a research position at a pharmaceutical company, you might want to leave out the experience you had as a graphic design intern one summer. It's irrelevant, and a waste of space on the only page you have to work with. However, if the job description calls for you to make brochures using InDesign, it would make sense to include your design experience.

3) Keep it chronological
There are two main resume formats. Chronological is when you list your work experience in reverse order, so that's from most recent backwards. Functional is when you list your experience by relevance to the job you're applying to. It's best for a college grad to list their internships/jobs in reverse order of dates, because it's easier for the HR recruiter to follow your work timeline. You may not have developed specific skills sets yet, such as sales AND marketing AND account management, so a functional format wouldn't work unless you've been working for years.

4) Highlight your accomplishments, rather than day-to-day tasks
This one's important. Let's face it: you thought answering phones and filing were the most boring tasks imaginable. Well so do the HR recruiters, if you write it that way. Instead, say something like "Created a filing system that increased the company's research efficiency." Never lie, but think big picture. Even though you didn't realize it at the time, all that filing and organizing you did made it easier for your superiors to access files and get their jobs done more quickly. But you probably never thought of it that way.

5) Bullet point those accomplishments
You want to make your resume as easy to read as possible. Bullet point each accomplishment under each job instead of writing one large paragraph. Again, an HR person will only have the time to skim your resume if you weren't referred to them internally, so big blocks of text will not make it easy for them to put you in the "yes" pile.

6) Spelling errors are a NO NO
I've spoken to several HR people and read a lot of books that included quotes from recruiters, and they all say the same thing. Resumes with typos will go straight into the trash. Attention to detail is a skill that many jobs require, and if you couldn't make time to reread your resume, how are you going to make time to reread that press release on the job?

7) Your educational experience goes at the BOTTOM
Yeah, your education was the last four years of your life, so it seems important to you. But employers typically want to know what your work experience is first, so put that way up top. If you're writing a CV, that's different, and is more focused on research and educational experiences. But since I've never written a CV, I'm not going to get into that here.

8) Have a "skills" section
Since it's best to list accomplishments rather than day-to-day tasks at each job you've had, a section on your skills would help to include what you couldn't fit in your bullet points. So if you know how to use HTML, Excel, and PowerPoint, and you are fluent in Spanish and French, this is where to fit in that information.

9) Don't have an "objective" section
As an entry-level college grad, you don't want to box yourself into a corner, and an objective statement is the first way to do just that. Say you're applying for a position that filled up yesterday, but the position is still listed as open on the website. If there's a position open in sales that your skills would qualify you for, but you had the objective of being a "media planner," your resume will probably go in the trash instead of being forwarded to the sales department.

I've already spoken to people who are listing things that are better or a severe exaggeration from what they really did, with the excuse that a "resume is just a conversation starter." Wrong. Wrong wrong wrong. You will get caught in the interview when you can't answer a question about something you included in your resume. You will be embarrassed. And you will have wasted your time as well as the employer's time, so you'll probably never be hired there in the future.

You will hear different things from different people, so there's no one formula to follow. These are just some things that have worked for me. So how's my job search going? I'm not saying online until I secure a job. But these resume tips have definitely helped me get noticed in the HR shuffle, so hopefully they'll help you, too. GOOD LUCK!!!

Friday, April 11, 2008

I met Kevin from "The Office"!!!

Last night I went to a sports bar in Hollywood called Big Wangs and met Kevin (Brian Baumgartner) from The Office. He was a really nice guy, and didn't seem to mind at all that my friend Kelly and I interrupted his night out for a photo.

Hollywood is amazing! I love how started seeing celebrities after I stopped looking for them. :-)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

American Idol Gives Back... and I was there!

I can no longer complain about not seeing celebrities in LA. I got to go to the taping of American Idol Gives Back on Sunday (it aired tonight at 7:30pm) at the Kodak Theater (where the Oscars are!) because I know someone who knows someone.

Here’s a complete list of all the celebrities I saw wayyyy up close:
- Brad Pitt
- Reese Witherspoon
- Billy Crystal
- Robin Williams
- David Spade
- Terri Hatcher
- James Denton
- Greg Grunberg
- Miley Cyrus
- Maroon 5
- Ryan Seacrest
- Paula Abdul
- Simon Powell
- Randy Jackson
- Fergie
- Snoop Dog
- Gloria Estefan
- Maria Carey
- Jesse Spencer
- Sarah Silverman
- Jimmy Kimmel
- Carrie Underwood
- Annie Lenox

I can now leave Los Angeles feeling complete!

Here’s some trivia about the show, airing Wednesday at 9 EST, that you won’t see on TV:

The audience’s reaction to Reese Witherspoon is not the initial surprise. The first time she walked on stage and began her speech, the crowd went NUTS, but something went wrong with the audio, so Reese shouted, “Pretend you didn’t see me!” and they had to redo it.

o Brad Pitt started to get annoyed that the girls in the crowd wouldn’t stop cheering for him because he couldn’t start his speech. Even though they left the footage where is microphone fell off his shirt and someone had to run out in fix it, they also edited out a lot of the cheering.

o Band for TV (the performance of Terri Hatcher singing Carrie Underwood’s song “Before He Cheats” with James Denton, Greg Grunberg, and Jesse Spencer) couldn’t be there for the show at night, so they prerecorded their performance around noon with seat fillers in the audience. Terri Hatcher was really nervous before singing, but she did an incredible job! On the second take of the song, Jesse came up to her during the first verse strumming his little electric violin and gave her a really seductive look. As soon as Teri looked at him, she burst out in a fit of giggles and said, “He’s so distracting! Look how gorgeous he is!”

o Maroon 5’s performance was also prerecorded. Unfortunately, it was cut, even though the performance was great. When they brought out Maroon 5, the production crew wasn’t ready, so they were waiting onstage for a while. The lead singer couldn’t figure out how to have his collar to hid the bug microphone, and he kept saying, “Well somebody better come over and fix this!” When nobody did, someone on stage just walked over and popped his collar. During the actual performance, the lead singer was looking directly into my eyes the whole time (no really, I swear… either I was his line of reference since I happened to be sitting at eye level a few rows back in the center, right in front of the microphone, or he literally was looking into my eyes).

o John Legend had a solo performance before Fergie joined him. But they cut the entire thing. I guess someone sitting at a piano and singing is too “boring” to air unless you’re Annie Lenox.

o Much of the audience booed during John McCain’s video. Because of this, they cut out all three candidates’ videos.

So now that I've seen all these celebrities, I feel like I can leave LA having had the complete LA experience. Sorry for the lack of pictures... we weren't allowed to bring in phones, cameras, or purses.