Monday, April 27, 2009

The Resume Breakdown (Break it Down Now...)

This goal of this entry is to give a crash course in resumes. For anyone who is somewhat unfamiliar with resume writing, this will hopefully give you some basic structure to use in connection with other, more specific templates. For anyone who has spent a significant amount of time perfecting their resume, with any luck, you will be able to use these insights for a little advanced resume critiquing. Keep in mind that this is from an engineering perspective. Resumes for other fields may be significantly different. Let us begin...

PART ONE: Who are you again?! And what do you want?!

It may seen a little odd, but one extremely important part of your resume is what is at the top...your name and contact information. Any major issues in this data may cause mild confusion for recruiters and could possibly result in you never hearing back from a company because you missed one digit in your phone number (doh!). So here's what the first few lines of your resume should include:

Full Name <-- Make it large enough that a recruiter can glance down while talking to you and catch what your name.

Address <--It is okay to put your permanent and university addresses, but make sure they are accurate for the time frame you are looking at. If you're moving in a month, maybe put down a more permanent address.

Phone Number <-- Keep your voicemail message professional! Avoid ridiculous comments or profanity. If a recruiter hears "F this, F that, leave an F-ing message..." they will never call you again. Ever. You're a big kid now so your voicemail should reflect that.

E-mail <-- Again, make sure it's appropriate. is probably not a good address to put on your resume. Something like is much better.

Objective <-- State what you want and when you want it. For example, my objective statement would be something like "Seeking a full-time position or leadership program position in the Spring of 2010 with a focus in operations management and manufacturing."

PART TWO: Hey Look, I'm a Spartan...Hire Me...

As a college student, one of your biggest assets is your potential. Since most student only have a hand full of work experience in their field, the majority of their potential is reflected in their performance at school. Good grades and recognition for academic excellence are signs to recruiters that you can work hard at school and for them. Here's what to include in this section:

Full Name of University and its Location
Major (i.e. Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering)
Projected Graduation Date
Purely Academic Honors (i.e. Honors College, Full-Ride or Partial-Ride Scholarships, etc.)
*For any Michigan students, putting your Michigan Merit Award in here is not advised unless you are looking to fill space. It is an award, but a whole lot of Michigan residents received it as well so it's not too terribly unique.*
**Having your high school GPA on your resume is acceptable until you receive your first set of semester grades in college. After that, say bye bye to high school. You're a big kid now.**


This is the section where you will give details about your most significant work experiences that relate to the job you are applying to. If you wish, you can include extracurricular experiences in this section or have an entire section devoted to your extracurricular activities if you would like. While everyone's experiences are different, the format for each of these experiences should include:

Company Name and Location
Time Frame of Work (i.e. May-August 2009 or for current jobs, September 2006-Present)
Name of Position
Major Projects/Duties (These are usually given as bullet points with concise details. Giving details relating to money, time, and people are generally solid ways to give a magnitude to your experience. If you say that you saved money at Company A that does not say much, but if you say you saved $100,000 at Company A then you've really made an impact.)

PART FOUR: Check Out My Skills

This part of your resume is the time where your unique skills should come out. While I'd steer away from calling out super abstract skills like being able to touch your tongue to your elbow, this section can act as a conversation starter with recruiters. In addition to listing skills like "Proficient in MS Office" or "Completed Six Sigma Black Belt Training", you can also include things like "Certified to Teach Underwater Basket Weaving" or "Fluent in Dolphin". These are unique skills that require a certain level of dedication and training to achieve.

This completes the Resume Breakdown. If all of this information is old news to you because you are a resume star, then I apologize for repeating something you already know. If some of this is new to you, please take a few minutes to apply what you learned here to your resume. If you have any specific questions about resume building, please feel free to e-mail me at

As usual,

Good Luck Job Seekers!

1 comment:

  1. RE: Hey Look, I'm a Spartan...Hire Me...

    I've had several companies (Boeing, for one) ask me if Michigan State was ABET accredited. I thought this was implied, given we are Spartans after all, but I guess it is something companies like to see. I put "Bachelor of Science, Computer Engineering - ABET Accredited" to sate this phenomenon.