I read a resume to get an idea of the person it represents. Obviously, if your resume is vague or skimpy, I'm going to get an incomplete picture. Having recently perused plenty of graduate resumes, here's what I look for:
- Write a complete timeline of what you've done recently without leaving any huge gaps. What's a huge gap? It depends on how precise you are. If you list your activities by the month, then you should explain any multi-month gaps (other than summer vacations). If you list by the year, you should explain year-sized gaps. For example, "In 2001, I took one year off studies to live in Vietnam."
- Don't obfuscate and don't be vague. Bad writing leaves a bad impression.
- Academic record
- Just give me the facts. "Bachelor of Electronic Engineering and Science, Honours 2A, 2006, University of Northern Mars" is fine. Better still, attach a copy of your academic transcript. It's pretty useless writing "Credit / Distinction Average" because I can read the transcripts.
- Your big chance to shine! Describe your project, your involvement, highlights and lowlights. "Rescued project from failure by heroically working two days and night to remove memory bugs" is pretty impressive. "Member of final year project team" or "Reports to Project Manager" is uninformtive and uninspiring.
- Work Experience
- Describe relevant work experience in detail. Who did you work for, what was their business and what did you do? As before, "Member of …" and "Reports to …" is uninformative.
- What are you like when you're not a wage slave? Please don't slack off and write the usual trite "Reading / Socializing / Watching Movies / Playing Games / Jogging" list. What do you really like doing in your spare time? Run the Harry Potter fan club? Train for marathons by running 10 kms a day?
- Don't care until you survive the face-to-face interview and we really want to hire you.
BIG TIP: Get someone else to analyse and criticise your resume. Yes, it's painful and embarassing. Face up to the fact that hardly anyone can edit their own writing.
It's your resume, not you, that will be compared against 50 others that arrive in my inbox. If your resume doesn't have enough information or is badly written, there's no way I can tell if you're a savant.
Disclaimer: I'm not a career consultant or recruitment specialist, so don't send me any resumes to review. I'm just the dude who tries to review resumes as fairly as possible.