In this series of articles, ELGL members will reflect on the themes from our recent survey on careers. Katie Babits, City of Veneta, OR management analyst, leads us off with six tips for writing a resume.
6 Tips for Writing a Resume
Upon graduating from the Missouri State University MPA program in 2012, I’ve spent a couple of years swimming through internship and job postings. Having applied for over 100 jobs, before I was hired for my first “real” job (seriously, I kept a spreadsheet), I wondered how my resume could be more appealing. So, instead of continuing to wonder what I was doing wrong, I sought feedback from the City of Springfield, Missouri human resources department where I had completed an internship. The advice that I received from the HR department in 2012 closely mirrors the responses from a recent ELGL career advice survey.
I have reviewed the more than 135 survey responses to bring you six tips that emerged from the first question on the ELGL survey, “what’s the best advice you’ve learned or shared about writing a résumé?”
The most frequently response was…… brevity. We had heard the rumor about the new trendy two-page resume, but this isn’t so according to survey respondents. Instead of wasting another sheet of y our nice resume paper, practitioners recommend avoiding filler, reducing what you already have by 10 percent, and keeping your resume concise.
Brevity is great, but what if your resume is being overlooked. To this, I present the the second-most common theme: write your résumé by highlighting job accomplishments, not job duties.
I asked SGR’s Ron Holifield for his opinion on the topic. He told me that most recruiters are familiar with the job duties tied to certain positions, so when they are reading résumés they are not looking for a list of job descriptions. Recruiters view hundreds of résumés per posting. In reviewing a resume, recruiters are looking for your notable accomplishments that indicate you can perform the responsibilities of the position being advertised. This will set you apart from the crowd.
Tailor your resume specifically to the position is another key to building a successful resume. Too often we rely on human resources to dig through our resume to find our qualifications that suit us for the job. Instead of that approach, you should showcase your accomplishments like a prize on The Price is Right. Since many of our duties qualify us for any number of positions, showcase your most relevant qualifications. Your goal should be show previous experience that makes you qualified for the job that you applying for.
Proper grammar is on the verge of becoming extinct if you believe the stereotypes that many bestow upon Millenials and Gen X’ers. However, proper grammar is a tip for success according to survey respondents. (I know that seems obvious.) Proofreading, including spell-check, should be a given but if you’ve ever reviewed a stack of resumes you know this isn’t the case. Our respondents recommend having someone else proofread your résumé, or (if you can’t phone a friend) take a night away from working on your resume and then come back and proofread it one final time. It is amazing what a good night’s sleep can do.
And finally, though somewhat surprising, honesty was the fifth-most common resume advice. Maybe I am naïve or idealistic, but the fact that we are working in the public sector, I would think honesty would be inherent in our very being. Nonetheless, if you are thinking of fudging those accomplishments, do not do it. You could have the shortest, most accomplishment-focused, tailored, proofread résumé in the stack of applicants, but if you are not able to speak in depth about everything you have written, you will likely make the blacklist. Local governments communicate, and if the word is out that you are dishonest, that will be a difficult reputation to shake.