Let’s take a quick quiz:
1. A resume should be no more than one page.
2. It is important to put references on the resume.
3. Listing specific classes is a waste of space.
Well unfortunately, the answers are not black and white. But, it is important to dispel the notion that “one rule fits all.” As with most things, there are several factors you should consider when writing, designing and distributing your resume.
First is length. Let’s be frank. It’s hard for some graduating college seniors to fill up one page. And, there’s no reason to list Beer Pong as an extra-curricular activity. Or suggest that scooping ice cream at the student union is a “team-building” experience.
Instead, here is my rule: Your resume should be as long as necessary to properly and fully tell your story to a perspective employer. If you’ve got great stuff (internships, special awards and cool qualifications), then the length of the resume isn’t important.
Question two is an interesting one. References are very important to list if it is, a) Someone known by the potential employer b) A well-known leader in the field.
I’ve called references before and got a big surprise. Who would list someone that gives a lukewarm response? It happens. References should have e-mail addresses. It’s much easier to deal with than hard-copy correspondence. If you are listing uncles, aunts and college roommates as references, I’d leave them off.
Question three is something I find very curious in college resumes. By NOT listing classes with specifics, you are “assuming” we know the college and their degree programs. This is usually not the case. Listing specific classes, such as writing for broadcasting, is specific experience. If you simply put, “BS in Communication,” that tells me nothing. List some representative classes that are geared to that specific employer. If you are applying for a job with a telecommunications firm, you should list telecommunications classes.
Overall guidance is simple: Tell your story completely. Give details that are customized to that specific employer or business line. If it’s a non-profit job, show the volunteer work you did for the animal shelter, etc. Give employers a reason to hire you.