The Hill Life: Finding a Job, Part III
Mar 16, 2011
From the moment you send your resume to a potential employer, you cede control to them. Sure, you can try to influence their decision, but ultimately they, not you, will decide whether you get an interview, a callback or ultimately get the job. So your resume needs to be as impressive as possible.
Hire a Professional. Last year, I brushed the dust off of my resume and was horrified to discover that it was out of date, poorly formatted and not exactly stunning. Even after hours worth of edits and a massive reformatting operation, my resume still struck me as blah. It needed professional help, STAT!
Fishbowl Resume’s charges $50 to work on your resume. You tell her about yourself, the kind of jobs you are applying for, and what you would like to highlight or downplay. In a little over a week, she will provide you with a completely new resume that was far better than anything most of us could have managed.
Was the resume she sent me perfect? No. I still spent about an hour editing and re-wording some of the descriptions, but when I was done, I had complete confidence in my resume. A feeling that I had never felt before.
Given the competitive job market on the Hill, making your resume stand out for all the right reasons is important. For the cost of a nice dinner, you can improve your resume four-fold. So why wouldn’t you give it a try?
Holy, Typeface, Batman. For whatever reason, a lot of job seekers like to get fancy with their font choices. Don’t. Resumes should be in Times New Roman, Arial or Calibri, that’s it.
And please, for the love of Guttenberg, use only one font. You might think that it’s cute to type your name in calligraphy or Courier New but it isn’t. It reeks of vanity. So please, keep the fonts simple and utilize bolding, bullet points and other accents sparingly and with purpose.
Don’t Lie. This should go without saying. Embellishing, fudging or concealing facts on your resume is a death sentence. Here are some of the most common resume lies.
Concealing a break in employment by pretending that you left job A in April instead of February. Being three credits shy of a minor in accounting, but claiming you received it anyway. Your job title was “Junior Account Executive,” but you removed the “junior.” Having limited or no experience with Dreamweaver, Photoshop or Excel but claiming to be proficient.
These are just some of the half-truths that I’ve seen people include on their resumes. They assume no one will check, or that these little white lies won’t matter, but why would you take the chance? Especially when applying for a Hill or government job, expect the hiring manager will check everything because usually, they will. And it doesn’t matter to me if you lied about your graduation dates or your middle initial, a lie will put you at the very bottom of my applicant pile.
Getting Attached. Never, ever send a hiring manager an e-mail attachment titled “resume.doc.” Why? Because they probably already have a file on their hard drive title resume.doc, and if they have to change the title to save a copy they’re likely to save it as, “guy with zero attention to detail.”
Never save your resume as “Belle Resume 3.” Why does she have three resumes? What is different on the first two? Why wasn’t I good enough to receive resume #1? These are just some of the questions a hiring manager will ponder when confronted with your third choice resume.
Same applies for resumes titled any of the following: Bellegoodresume.doc, BelleHillresume.doc, NewResumeDraft.doc. All of these titles turn your selected file name into a cryptic puzzle that once decoded reveals things about the job seeker that you don’t want an employer to know or assume about you.
So how should you safe your resume? File names should be last name(dot)first name(dot)resume. Cover letters should be last name(dot)first name(dot)coverletter. And all documents should be saved as a PDF. This will help you avoid any trickey Windows to Mac issues and it will prevent anyone from altering your attachment.
Extras. If a job posting asks for references, send them. If it asks for a cover letter, send one. If it asks for a writing sample, add one. But if it doesn’t, don’t.
When e-mailing a resume, you should include a short version of your cover letter in the body of the e-mail. And you should mention that you can provide writing samples and references upon request, but don’t include materials that people did not ask you to provide.
These are just a few of the things that you need to do to ensure that your resume stands out in a good way. If you have any questions or anything to add, feel free to leave it in the comments.
Update. Resumes should be one page, unless you have been working for a decade or more. today, I received a three page resume for a 23-year-old. It contained everything from her high school clubs to her hobbies. I don’t care about your hobbies. After two years of working on the Hill, you won’t have any hobbies anyway. (Just kidding. Okay, half-kidding.) ONE PAGE.