Monday, February 14, 2011

The Purpose of a Resume - for recent grads

Unique resume advice

Reprinted with permission from


A common misconception about resumes is that they are meant to describe what you did in your past jobs. In actuality, resumes are most effective when they are written from a FUTURE perspective. In other words, your resume will work if you think about what a potential employer would want to know about how you WILL perform. What experience do you have that will make you a contribution to their firm or organization?

If you are writing from the perspective of the FUTURE, here’s what will happen:

1. You will write detailed bullets that demonstrate your capability to achieve measurable results. That means: include numbers as often as possible. Don’t just say you tutored students; say how many and by how much their grades improved. Don’t say you were successful; tell us exactly what results you achieved. Don’t just say “increased;” tell us by what percentage. Your readers will imply that you can produce similar results for them

2. You will think about the purpose and priority of each item on your resume. Does it matter that you worked as a bartender? Maybe, if you worked 20 hours/week and still maintained a 3.8 GPA, or if you were the highest-tipped bartender at the establishment. Additionally, bartending successfully shows your ability to multitask and interact with a wide variety of people. But it does not need to take up three lines on your resume, just because it’s what you did; you can make it a short bullet under your “Education” section to show you were doing it while in school full time.

3. You will delete anything that is irrelevant or of minimal importance to your future. These things include stuff you did in high school. High school activities are no longer relevant – you had 4 years of college to become who you are now, and if you did less in college than you did in high school, looking into the future, the logical conclusion is that you will do less and less as time goes on.

About the author:

Brenda Bernstein is the Founder and Senior Editor at She holds B.A. in English from Yale and a J.D. from New York University School of Law, and has been coaching individuals and companies on their writing projects for over 10 years. The Essay Expert provides assistance with college essays, LinkedIn profiles, resumes, cover letters, web copy, business writing, and custom writing projects


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