by Scottie Kapel, former Head Editor, INALJ Oregon
previously published on 4/4/13
Those of you who watch How I Met Your Mother may recognize the title of this post from Barney Stinson’s video résumé. Beyond the possible, beyond the impossible is the possimpible. Even though the word is used for laughs in the episode, it perfectly captures the essence of résumé writing, a task that can feel simultaneously beyond possible and beyond impossible. Not just a fictitious skill on Barney’s resume, possimpible is in fact the whole résumé writing process.
Writing a résumé is a pretty daunting task. Brevity, format, and content combine to either make you or break you. If your résumé is not perfect, then the odds of getting an interview diminish and you will not have the opportunity to prove to potential employers what an asset you would be to their company or institution. Despite their diminutive size, résumés can rival painstakingly researched papers in difficulty. Trying to fit your job and academic history and accomplishments — allowing also for skills, relevant internship and volunteer experience, and contact information — into one to two pages is no easy feat. But try you must.
I wish I had some magic secret tip I could impart to you all to make your résumés so impressive that you get immediate interviews for your dream jobs, but, alas, I do not. I do, however, know that I struggled with certain parts of the résumé when drafting my own, and I’m fairly confident I’m not the only one. The following are not necessarily tips but more points to consider as you write your resume.
One of the greatest challenges, especially for those who are uncomfortable with tooting their own horn, is balancing that fine line between advocating your strengths and braggadocio. The résumé is no place for one to be a milquetoast, so resist the urge to downplay significant accomplishments. That said make sure that the accomplishments you choose to include are in fact relevant to your experience. In other words, don’t include your 6th grade spelling bee victory, as proud as you may be (and rightfully so — some of those words are really difficult to spell).
2) Well, hello there.
You want your résumé to be eye-catching so it stands out in a pile of many, but because we are not in the creative field, it would be safe to err on the more conservative side. I know this presents a bit of a bind. How much razzmatazz is too much razzmatazz? Gold leaf ombré dip dye? Sadly, too much. Custom layout? Just right. Feel free to experiment with different formats to best capture your personality while still highlighting your skills and experience. Experimenting with layouts may not be the most scintillating of options, but you want your experience and qualifications to be the star in your résumé; your personality can shine through in the interview.
3) What’s your objective?
Ah, the objective statement. Perhaps the most hotly contested section of the résumé based on results of my polling (sample size: 1…me). If you search for tips on writing your résumé, you will eventually come across those who fervently defend the objective statement and those who just as fervently call for its immediate banishment. The best advice I’ve come across is that if your objective statement is not adding anything compelling beyond the obvious desire for employment, then get rid of it. For me personally, I find the cover letter to be a better venue for more eloquently expressing my objective, so I forgo an objective statement on my résumé.
Writing your résumé is not an easy process, but as the old cliché goes, nothing in life worth doing is easy. The more thought you put into your résumé, the better it will reflect you. When you think it is perfect, send it to a friend or family member whose proofreading skills you trust (bonus points if the person is in HR and sees countless résumés each and every day). Better to have a friend catch a mistake than a potential employer. Certainly these aren’t the only challenges to writing a résumé nor are they unique to my experience alone. While you may think it a possimpible task, the more time you spend on your résumé and the more trusted feedback you receive, the easier it will be to create a document that will impress hiring committees. If you’re still having difficulty with your résumé, here are some helpful links I’ve found helpful:
And when you need a laugh: http://www.resumania.com