Thursday, June 3, 2010

Résumé Blues

A few nights ago, my parents went out to dinner with a family friend, and I'm guessing they mentioned my thus-far fruitless job search. So a couple nights ago, he called them to say that one of his friends was looking for college kids to do some "college grunt work" for the summer, and that applying for this mysterious "college grunt work" would require submitting a résumé via snail-mail.

Regardless of the fact that I have no idea what "college grunt work" entails, this all adds up to me spending today putting together my résumé and sincerely wishing I'd bothered to go to one of those seminars advertised at school this year on résumés and CVs. (I have no idea what the difference is between the two, if there is one at all. Most of the flyers I saw pertained to CVs.)

This is what I thought I knew about résumés before today: résumés should have your previous work experience, do not need references, should NEVER have typos, and should be one page in length.

Enter advice and examples from Mom and Big Sister, stage left. Big Sister took advantage of those résumé seminar things in college, so she's our in-house expert. Her résumé is--*gasp*--two pages! Oh, the HORROR!

So I use these convenient family examples as a starting point, I dig up the sorry excuse of a résumé I made for a sorry excuse of a class at the beginning of Freshman year, and I start listing my job experience. I slip in a mention of the fact that I'm in the Honors Program. I even list how ridiculously active I am in Hillel. Then I go so far as to get fancy by using a sans-serif font for headings and for my name, because sans-serif fonts take longer to read and therefore draw more attention. (That's a handy little tidbit you can pick up in a college education.)

Tragically, this beautiful list of mine is more than a page. It's not quite two pages; it's not even a page and a half. No, it's just long enough that no amount of finessing will bring it down to one page. And what's worse--the page break is smack dab in the middle of all my lovely Hillel experience.

Thinking I have the perfect solution, I divide the résumé into two columns. On the left, I have my work experience, and on the right, I list my education and extracurricular activities. (Sorry, little blog, you didn't make the list. You're just a baby. You're not much to brag about yet.) Of course, it takes a good five minutes of wrestling with the computer's auto-formatting to make it line up all nice and pretty, but I finally get a one-page résumé that looks good to me.

Again... Enter Big Sister, stage left. "Don't make it two columns," she says. Then she tells me to proof-read a dozen times, then have someone else proof-read it, and then proof-read it again. Then she goes to bed. (Note: By this point, it's the middle of the day, but Big Sister works nights, so it's well past bedtime for her.)

Well, grand. I undo all that wrestling and go back to one column. Now I just need to figure out how the heck to either get this all on one page, or just give it a less awkward page break. Using a smaller font size doesn't make enough of a difference. Eliminating the double-spaces between sections just makes it look crowded, and doesn't make enough of a difference anyway. No matter what I do, there's an annoying page break right in the middle of my Hillel experience.

Eventually, Mom presented the answer (as she quite often does). She pointed out that the friend of a friend who will be reading this résumé is probably about the same age as my parents, that being the age of reading glasses, and that the friend of a friend therefore probably won't mind if the font is bigger. Add a little white space, and my two-page résumé doesn't look half-bad.

Sometimes, things are just more complicated than they should be.

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