Take a deep breath, it makes sense why people are intimidated by résumé writing and job applications. 427,000 resumes are posted each week on Monster (a global employment website) and Applicant Tracking Software, that reads your résumé, is able to quickly eliminate 75% of the applicants. There are tons of guides on the verbiage used in a résumé, but the most important thing is how to navigate the application process and remember the value you bring as a human to a space.
Now is the time to brag, you can bring so much to the table and your résumé is only a snippet of who you are as a person and what your true value is. Your résumé is the hook to get the hiring team excited about talking to you and the interview is where you can expand on what is or is not listed on your resume. Here are ways to help you stand out from the electronic files and land an interview.
According to Business News Daily:
- Employers look at résumés for an average of only six or seven seconds.
- You’ll get the best results if you send your resume between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. within the first four days of a job being posted.
- Your résumé should be clear, concise and tailored to the job for which you are applying.
Here is a way to navigate through the whole process of tailoring your résumé, while keeping your well-being a priority:
📅 Maintain a schedule to work on your résumé, cover letters, and applications (and honor your self-care time!)
In today’s world, our value is so tightly associated with our careers or roles. As much as it feels like a time crunch and for some people it is – remember you need to fill your own cup before filling others. It is hard to show up fully in the interview when you are already experiencing burnout from job applications and résumé writing. Maintaining a schedule to honor your self-care time can look like:
“Weekdays for one hour a day – I will focus on my résumé and job applications and then work on one of my hobbies for the rest of the day.”
“When I am feeling overwhelmed, I will step away and do something else and come back when I feel more comfortable working on job applications.”
“My bestie and I have planned Saturday Coffee Dates where we both work on our applications so we can hype each other up.”
No matter how it looks, remember you are your top priority and your health comes first. Breaking it down into smaller, more attainable and manageable steps is the best way to alleviate the stress of résumé and job searching. Check out examples of self-care at Active Minds.
🏆 Create a “humble brag” list
This is a master list of tasks, skills, achievements, kudos, and accomplishments in your current or most recent roles. It can be your own master résumé that is multiple pages, a digital spreadsheet with color-coded tabs or in your favorite journal. It is a master list of what you have done in your roles so you can quickly reference them while tailoring your résumé to the job descriptions or for the interview process. It is completely up to you on how it looks and what it entails, it can also simply be a place where you can go when you are feeling imposter syndrome to build your confidence. Some people put kudos that were given to them, specific projects, previous job descriptions, certificates, etc. This way you can reference easily all that you have done and more times than not, the master list has more items on it than we expect. You can even share it with people you work closely with to add to the list or ask if there is anything missing.
🤝🏽 Create a list of what you do outside of work that have transferable skills
As the workplace shifts and people are being seen as the multi-faceted humans that we are, some people add in their resume under interests or skills that they have gained outside of work or mention them in their interviews. This could be from running a small business, volunteering, professional groups or boards, or simply being the best reunion and vacation planner for your family. It is easy to discredit our skills when it is not tied to a job or a “professional role”. Again, this can be a space for you to remember all the value you bring to the many spaces you are part of.
If you were involved in any chapters at Active Minds, there are many transferable skills that you can share such as event planning, advocacy work and outreach, recruitment, fundraising, and even policy change if you have helped implement something at your university or community or have represented the student voice on campus health committees. If it’s been awhile, check out the Active Minds Chapters page and check out chapter programming across the nation!
Now that you’ve done the homework, it’s time to write your résumé! Pretend you’re talking about your favorite person in the world (your best friend, partner, role model, if you need to act like you’re writing about your dog, whatever works for you!)
➡️ Make sure the main résumé components are available and look at examples
There are main sections that all résumés hold: contact information, education, experience, and additional sections like honors, activities, other skills, hobbies, coursework or research that is relevant to the position you are seeking. Keep your resume chronological with your most current experience, keep the length of your resume to one typed page and the font sizes between 10-12 points in Helvetica, Arial, or Times New Roman. Keep in mind for creative roles like graphic designers, there is more flexibility in making it ✨ a e s t h e t i c ✨.
➡️ Look at the job descriptions and see where it overlaps with your list
This is where your schedule comes in handy. In my own experience, I feel that looking at job descriptions over and over again was where it started getting overwhelming and tedious. If it helps, you can also copy and paste the job descriptions in a separate document so that you can focus better on those descriptions and where it overlaps with your master list and makes it easier to transfer to your resume or keep your resume in another window side-by-side.
➡️ Use action verbs, numbers, and utilize this format: Task, Action, Result
Action Verbs, especially strong action verbs convey what you accomplished in a role. They make the bullet point more tangible rather than vague, just as numbers do. Here are 185+ action verbs to help you out! Along with this, it is important that whatever follows that verb is just as strong. You may or may not have heard of the interview response method, STAR, which stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result. For resumes, it’s best to use the TAR portion – task, action, result and then expand on the situation in your interview or cover letter. Here’s an example:
“Coordinated [10+] recruitment events and increased enrollment by [10%]”
The action verb was “coordinated”, 10+ and 10% are the numbers, the task/action was “coordinated recruitment events”, and the result was “increased enrollment by 10%”. For this situation, in your cover letter or interview, you can provide context like, “Our enrollment was at 5% before I was in the position and I coordinated events such as Trivia Night and a Meet & Greet that increased the enrollment by 10%.” Remember, your resume is simply a way to get the interviewing team to be excited to learn more about you and what you did in those roles. This is also a great way to tailor the situation to the job description.
➡️ Have others review your résumé and find references
Sometimes we might miss layout and grammar mistakes after looking at our resumes for too long. It is also a way to test out that your resume will be formatted correctly through electronic means. There are websites like JobScan where it scans your resume for you and provides input, LinkedIn has many people that put their own résumés as examples, people might offer services to proofread and edit your résumé. There are also plenty of people willing to support you like campus advising offices, colleagues such as your supervisor, mentors, and even friends who have experience in hiring or reviewing résumés, some companies and organizations even offer to review your résumé with an existing employee! Within this, prepare a list of references to be used in the application form or in the interview and extend the ask to your network, you do not have to go through this process alone. (Bonus: Do the same for your application answers and cover letters!)
The résumé is ever-changing because you continue to grow, it is only a very small window of opportunity to get to know you and does not define who you are. Remember to take breaks, ask for support, and know that your value is beyond your productivity.