After leaving my English teaching job in Seoul, I started frantically applying for jobs back in my home state of Florida. Two weeks later, and I’d only heard back from one or two companies. What was I doing wrong?
And then, I saw it. How did I miss it?
In the chaos of moving and the anxiety of searching for my next career step, I forgot to remove the headshot on my resume — a must-have in South Korea, but a panic-inducing faux paus in the United States that Business Insider called, “tacky and distracting.” Immediately, I removed the photo. Then I started to take a closer look at my resume, and the conversation in my head went a bit like this:
“Without the photo, it looks so boring. Wow, and my job descriptions are so wordy. This looks more like a CV than a resume. Oh no. Oh, oh please no. Is that a typo?”
After a day of panic and furious resume revision, I applied to new jobs. Within a week, my job response rate improved drastically.
Some pieces of resume advice change with region or even time. But there are a few pieces of advice that are always on point. Revamp your resume this summer with these four tips and show off your best self.
1. Rethink, redesign
Resume advice is constantly changing, and if you aren’t careful, your resume will read as antiquated as a tube TV manual. I’ve found that Money Magazine has some of the best and most current resume advice, such as “Format your resume so that the juiciest parts are up top,” and “Be selective.”
As for resume design, any standard resume template will suffice. However, if you’re in a creative industry, such as advertising or graphic design, you might want something more imaginative. Design your own or download a more inventive template. Just remember: Less is always more. You don’t want your resume to look like a Lisa Frank folder.
2. Borrow a fresh set of eyes
After fixing up your resume, it’s easy to miss the little things. OK — and big things. (I still can’t believe I forgot to take the headshot off.) But I could’ve saved myself time and misery by having a friend read it over before I sent it off anywhere. Ask your friend, your aunt, the teacher you still keep in touch with. Just get a second pair of eyes to look it over.
Alternatively, put your resume down and come back to it after one or two days. Even better, print your resume and comb through it with a red pen for errors. Don’t just rely on spell check!
3. Find an internship
These days, related internships and real-life experience are almost always more important to employers than your major. I’ve never had an interviewer look at my resume and say, “Wow, look at your bachelor’s in mass communications! Tell me more.” Instead, they say, “I see you interned at Tampa advertising agency 22Squared! What was that like?”
Some websites like Internships.com aggregate internship opportunities from around the country. But I’ve found that often businesses don’t post their internships on job boards. The best way to find them is by looking at the careers section of the company you’re interested in interning with. If you don’t see any listings, don’t be shy and shoot them an email.
4. Get your volunteer on
Use your extra time this summer to volunteer for a local cause you’re excited about. For a resume-worthy volunteership, try to apply your skills in a meaningful way.
For example, in South Korea, there was a cat shelter I fell in love with. I didn’t have the extra hours to commute to the shelter and help on a weekly basis. Instead, I reached out to the shelter’s coordinator, told him that I’m a writer, and asked if there was some way I could help. The coordinator lit up and asked if I could revamp the cat adoption descriptions remotely.
Not only did I get to contribute to the shelter in a meaningful way, but also I was able to marry my love of animals with my writing background on my resume. Win-win!
With my refined resume in hand, I’ve confidently applied to a handful of new jobs I’m delighted about since coming home from Korea. Now I just have to rock the interviews.
Originally published on May 29, 2018.