Writing a resume is similar to traveling the Oregon Trail, minus the cattle and lethal snake bites. It’s long, arduous and well worth the effort in the end – if you do it right.
First up is the “Objective” section, which is basically a statement of employment goals in relation to the company you’re applying to. It answers the question, “What do I want to do here?”
“Get rich or die trying” is my knee-jerk response, but smartass comments pave the road to the unemployment office.
The more honest – and equally ineffective – objective is the same for everyone: Seeking long-term, stable job with yearly raises, paid vacation and outstanding benefits in a stress-free environment.
Those jobs don’t exist outside Carrie Bradshaw’s universe. I’m more likely to end up on the other end of the spectrum, at the restaurant from “Office Space.” I’ll be 30 years old, offering suburban families half-priced appetizers and listening to my boss touting the merits of “flair.”
No. No, no, no, no, no.
All I want is a halfway decent job in my field of choice – one that can pay for an apartment in a not-so-shady part of town and a Netflix subscription. Is that an appropriate objective statement? It doesn’t matter much, since most professionals encourage applicants to skip that portion when writing resumes. It’s as outdated as a rotary telephone. The same information goes on the cover letter, though, so it’s worth thinking about.
The “Education” section is easy enough. College, major, anticipated date of graduation. The problem is that, because I didn’t choose a big-name school, potential internship sites outside of Erie won’t recognize Gannon.
An intern recruiter will probably look up the university or cast aside my whole application in frustration. If I’m fortunate enough to land an interview, I’ll have to explain, “It’s a small Catholic school in northwest Pennsylvania” – a line I’ve recited about 47,000 times at grad school visits and in casual conversation over the past three years.
Next comes the “Experience” section, which is kind of a Catch-22. Intern recruiters are looking for students with some experience because they don’t want to do a lot of hand-holding. Meanwhile, students are looking for internships in order to gain experience.
At 20, the experience section shows involvement in campus organizations and a few minimum-wage jobs. How do I make my summers as a cashier seem really significant? Sure, they’re a testament to my self-sufficiency and I can crack open a roll of quarters with one hand, but that’s not the sort of experience prospective interns need.
Basically, without valuable experience, I won’t get an internship, and without an internship, I won’t get any experience at all.
The “Skills” and “Interests” sections are optional. It’s a good thing, too. I don’t think the ability to sleep through a volcanic eruption is a true skill, and my interests are comparatively boring. Some people my age are teaching themselves Sanskrit. I enjoy reading and writing and watching episodes from sitcoms that ended before my adult teeth came in. Whose resume is going to look more appealing?
But, like the settlers, I’ll forge on. At least my journey doesn’t involve a covered wagon.