by Lauren Bourdages, Head Editor, INALJ Ontario
Extreme Resume Makeover: Library Technician Edition
As a job seeker, one thing I inevitably spend a lot of time doing is reading career advice blogs and one take away from them is new advice and tips for resume writing. I enjoy writing, and I think, hope, that I am good at writing. I am good at summarizing and drilling ideas down into bite sized pieces; I think this is what helps me most when I’m working on a resume. Anyway, as a result of my reading and my own enjoyment of writing I have gotten pretty good at putting together a resume (again that’s my own opinion and my own sense of other people complimenting my resume) and because of that fact, combined with the fact that I’ve always been the go-to editor/proofreader for my friends means I regularly get asked to help them with their resumes. So far, every friend that I have given a resume makeover has gotten at least one interview immediately after using the new resume. After my latest resume makeover landed my friend an interview after she used it with an application, I thought it might be appropriate to share my tips with the LIS job seekers.
Every friend I’ve given a makeover to has either been using a Microsoft Office template, or has been using outdated resume advice so when I get their resumes, they are definitely in need of a pick me up. Here’s the “before” for this particular case so you can see what I mean.
It’s not a terrible resume, but it’s not the best it could be either; if I were the hiring manager looking at it I wouldn’t be engaged. So what did I do? Here, have a look at the “after” and then we’ll discuss it.
I started by changing the fonts. A good tip to remember that I have read over and over again is to use a sans serif font like Arial, Tahoma or Century Gothic. This is because sans serif fonts were designed to be easily read on a screen, and for the most part, the first person encountering your resume will be reading it on a screen, so make it easier on them.
You have a few options for a font scheme:
- Use one font for the entire resume using formatting and sizing to make things stand out.
- Use a serif font for the headers and a sans serif for the points (this is the choice I made for this makeover; I used Georgia for the serif and Tahoma for the sans serif).
- Use a single font family, such as the different types of Franklin Gothic.
Just remember, when choosing a font, if you’re not saving your resume as a PDF (and you SHOULD be to preserve your formatting!), then you have to use fonts that you can be 100% certain all of your readers will have. For that reason as a rule, I never use downloaded fonts for resumes, even when I am saving as a PDF.
Once you’ve decided on your fonts, choose the style of resume you want to write, you have 3 major options, chronological, functional, and hybrid. All the best resume advice articles will tell you NOT to use the functional style and I agree with them. The hybrid style is my personal go-to and signature resume style and you can see it used here in the “after”. One of the most common resume writing tips is to showcase all of your best achievements “above the fold” e.g. as close to the top of the resume as possible. For that reason I always start a resume with a Professional Profile as seen in the “after”. This allows me to group my accomplishments under headings that are pulled directly from the language of a job posting and shows a hiring manager all of my achievements in that area grouped together regardless of where I achieved them.
Whether you choose the hybrid style and a professional profile or stick to chronological, make sure you’re not just highlighting your duties (i.e. “Enforce and explain library policies and procedures including accepting payments for overdue fines & other fees”) but also your achievements (i.e. “As one of the co-organizers of the Storytelling Series for the Anytown Museum, arranged all aspects of the series’ events from arranging speakers to presiding over the each event”). If you figured out a way to streamline a process that resulted in improved statistics for example then a hiring manager would want to know that if you’re applying to a position where it’s applicable. The other reason I like the professional profile is that, for me at least, it makes it a lot easier to tailor my application to a specific posting. I can swap lines and sections in and out with ease on a whim.
Another change you’ll notice is that I swapped the position of her work history and education; that’s another thing all of the advice out there agrees upon, your work history is more relevant than your education (when you actually have a work history as is the case here). Usually the advice states to only list positions from the last 10-15 years. Obviously that’s going to change based on how many positions you’ve had and how relevant they are. You’ll notice between the “before” and “after” that I not only combined her employment and volunteer experiences, but that I actually removed a few of her jobs. I chose to do this because in this instance she has enough relevant library experience that she doesn’t need the insurance positions to prove that she has customer service skills. I also left a position from the 1990s on there because it is a relevant position.
I did the same thing in the education section, I could have deleted most of her education because of its age, but I felt it was all still relevant enough to leave it on. With Library Technician positions, sometimes they do ask for someone with a BA, so it doesn’t really matter when she got it, just that she has it.
The one or two page debate is another piece of resume advice that crops up often. It’s been my experience that anyone with more than two or three positions relevant to a job is going to need two pages, especially if they achieved a lot in those positions. When you get five or six positions or more, and start including volunteer work and professional activities you’re definitely going to need more than one page to paint the full picture. So it’s my tip to worry about length less than you worry about content. Your resume is about painting a picture of your best professional self and why you are the person for a given position. To do that you need details, concise details, but details none the less and they take space.
Another section you should be including is your professional activities, this includes any professional development you’ve done, presentations you’ve given, and professional associations you are actively a part of.
In summary then, just remember, keep it clean, keep it concise, and keep it consistent. If you do all of those things and remember to tailor it each time you apply, then you’re giving yourself the best chance of having your application package selected for an interview.