We’re down to the wire…the last part of your resume that job searchers tend to ignore – the part where you put professional memberships, education and “personal.” So here are the 3 resume tips that are easiest to overlook.
(1) List only memberships that relate directly to your targeted job and/or those where you have held office or documented significant accomplishments.
Membership in an organization sends a signal that you know (or don’t know) your tribal customs. Does everyone belong to American Marketing Association or the Sales & Marketing Executives group?
Be aware that listing some professional organizations may actually send a negative message. For example, I’ve found people react strongly to memberships in Kiwanis and Rotary Clubs. Some are positive; others negative. Memberships in Magnolia Historical Society and the local Garden Club are best omitted, unless you’re applying for a job in a museum or a plant shop.
If you belong to several organizations, list only those where you have played an active role. After all, many organizations admit anyone who can pay dues.
(2) List education at the end of your resume (unless you’re applying for an academic job). Begin with your most recent degree. Include certificates that relate directly to the job you’re targeting.
Accuracy is critical. I actually met someone who was asked to explain why she wrote “Minor: French” when no minor was noted on her transcript. She explained that she had taken more courses than most schools require for a minor, but her school didn’t offer that option. Her company seems a little detail-oriented, to put it mildly, but why take a chance?
(3) Use “Personal Information” as an opportunity to present a positive view of yourself as a well-rounded individual.
It’s not a time to reveal that you have a pet rat and play war games in your basement (unless those qualities would be valued in your field).
A manager told me casually, “X has a lot of community service activities and even more hobbies. We work long hours here. Will he want to give up all those commitments? We aren’t willing to take a chance.” And X’s resume went straight to the reject pile.
In my academic years, my Personal section included “Single with two (2) cats.” I knew I’d raise an eyebrow or two, but the job market was good and I wanted to work with folks who had a sense of humor. But I would never recommend this strategy to anyone else, especially a client. If you want to do something quirky, that’s cool. At least 90% of the time, your professional career advisor should play it straight.
Would you like me to review your resume? Let’s set up a career consultation.
We won’t just wordsmith your resume…we’ll work how to achieve your career goals. Your resume is just a tool in the process.
Nick Yu says
Hi Cathy, as a fresh graduate, in my resume, the “education” section should be placed before “practice”, right?
But if my university is not famous while I’ve got sufficient experience in practice and I’m applying for position in multinational company which may be judge one person by where did he graduate, can I put the “practice” section first? Would the recruiter misunderstood my resume and assume it to be the experienced one(not fresh graduate)?
Thanks in advance.
Cathy Goodwin says
I would still put your experience first. As a new graduate, you’ll have a short resume and a recruiter can just skim down to see your education. Your graduate date will let everyone know you’re a recent graduate.
If you’ve had substantial experience while completing your degree, your future employer will want to know.
Check with your university’s placement office. Talk to people from the classes ahead of yours. How did they get their jobs? What worked? What didn’t?
Some companies do give strong preference to graduates of top-tier schools. But sometimes outstanding experience can compensate. Cast a wide net in your search.