Crafting Resumes that Work
What is a resume?
A resume is an essential tool in almost any professional endeavor. It provides a first impression of a person’s experience, skills, and qualifications, and gives the applicant an opportunity to make a connection between that experience and the job, internship, or opportunity to which they are applying. As such, it is important to craft a resume with careful consideration and attention to detail. The ultimate goal of your resume is to get you an interview.
Your resume should:
What type of resume do I need?
Once you have a basic resume, you will want to ensure that each time you send it out; you have edited it for each specific opportunity. A resume is a concise marketing piece that describes your experiences, education, and skills as they pertain to the position that you are seeking. Most employers spend 20 seconds or less reading your resume, so targeting your resume to the position is one way to make your resume stand out.
An artist/exhibition resume or artist’s CV highlights your artistic accomplishments, such as group and solo shows, screenings, and performances. It can also include your education, honors, awards, residencies, and internships or apprenticeships that influenced your work. Some artists include any collections their work is in and any articles or publications that
praised their work. It is a concise outline of your progress as an artist.
A teaching resume showcases skills gained in TA positions, community or school settings, or any other teaching or tutoring experience you have. It might also include academic awards, publications, or scholarships as well as campus activities and committees. The idea with a teaching resume is to show your ability to develop curriculum, teach classes, to evaluate and advise students, to help with campus governance and administration, and to contribute to the campus community.
A professional resume outlines your work history, highlighting relevant experience. It should indicate your skills, responsibilities and accomplishments in the jobs or internships you have held. It might also list relevant coursework.
Most resumes are formatted as Chronological Resumes, which lists your experience in reverse chronological order (starting with the most recent and working your way backward). Within this framework, you may decide to break up your experience into categories based upon the position for which you are applying. For example, if you are applying for a writing position, you might divide your experience into “Writing Experience” and “Other Experience.” The goal is to list your most interesting and important experience as close to the top of the resume as possible. Separating out relevant experience and listing it all under one heading will help you to do that.
Personalize Your Resume
No matter the type of resume, you should always tailor your resume to the position for which you are applying. It is good to have multiple resumes prepared at one time which can then be quickly edited, and easily updated and personalized.
The first step in creating a resume is to itemize your experience from the past several years. Include internships, full-time, part-time, and summer jobs, research experience, volunteer/community service, co-curricular activities, leadership experience, and study abroad.
There is no specific rule about how far back you should reach. For a first-year student, it probably makes sense to include experience from high school. For a graduating senior, on the other hand, high school experience is probably too far in the past, and is unlikely to be your strongest selling point, so it wouldn’t be included unless there’s a specific reason for keeping it.
In addition to experience, list skills you have that relate to the positions to which you’re applying. Include languages you speak, technology skills you’ve developed, and other pertinent transferable skills.
Fill in the Details:
After you master list is complete, elaborate on each item you listed. Include relevant details for each experience, and as much as possible cite accomplishments and specific details. For example, if you managed a budget, how large was the budget? If you worked with children, what ages? In groups or individually? In writing your descriptions, focus on those skills and accomplishments that will be of interest to the employers you’re targeting. Use strong action verbs to begin each statement.
Organize Your Resume
The following is a list of the sections commonly found in a resume. Your resume may not contain all of these sections or may contain different sections, depending on what you’re trying to accomplish. Organize and title the sections to correspond with the types of positions for which you are applying.
Name and Contact Information:
If your current address is different from your permanent address (usually your parents’ or home address), you may include both on your resume. However, employers usually favor local candidates, so if you have a local address, only include the most relevant address. Include a home or cell phone number, and be sure that the outgoing message on your voicemail is professional sounding. Include an email address and check for messages frequently.
If you are applying for a position that does not seem in line with your previous experience, or you are switching from one field to another, a good way to contend with this on your resume is by adding an objective or a summary of qualifications section. This can help employers understand, in a snapshot at the top of your resume, why you’re applying for this job at this time and why you are qualified for it. Seeking an entry-level position in a non-profit arts organization where I can combine my administrative expertise with my creative skills, utilizing my comprehensive knowledge of the San Francisco art world. This section is optional. You will elaborate on this more fully in your cover letter, so if you can better use the space on your resume to list relevant experiences and skills, skip the objective.
List the name of the institution, city and state, and the degree you received (or expect to receive). Include your major(s), as well as your GPA (or major GPA) if it’s above a 3.2. You may wish to include relevant coursework (relevant to the position for which you’re applying), major research projects, academic awards, and honors, or study abroad experiences.
There are many different types of experience you can use on your resume. You may choose to organize your resume based on Related Experience, Work Experience, Leadership Experience, or some other category. You can include experiences that were paid or unpaid, full-time or part-time. For each entry, list the name of the employer/organization, your title, the city and state, and the dates you were there. Include a brief description of each experience, beginning each phrase with an action verb (see a list of action verbs if you need help). If you currently hold the position you’re describing, you can use the present tense. For all previous positions, use the simple past tense.
You may wish to include college or community organizations to which you belong, particularly if you have an active role.
Use a Skills section to highlight your language, computer, technical, art-related, time-management, research, critical thinking, or other relevant skills.
This section is helpful for academically focused resumes or art/exhibitions resumes. In a Teaching Resume, you can highlight scholarly work relevant to the position for which you are applying. In an Artist/Exhibition Resume, this section is relevant if your work has been highlighted in publications or you have presented your work in a public setting.
As you continue to gain experience in your career, you can also create other sub-categories on your resume, whether that be teaching experience, curatorial experience, design experience, publications, lectures, etc.
Exhibition Resumes (CV):
Exhibition Resumes generally include the Education, Solo Exhibitions, Group Exhibitions,
Awards & Honors, Collections, and Publications sections. Whereas a professional resume should usually be limited to one page, the Artist/Exhibition Resume can be longer if your experience warrants it. It should follow the format of the Professional Resume, but should not be as descriptive. For additional categories, visit CAA’s website.
Teaching Resumes generally include the Education, Teaching Experience, and other relevant sections. A Teaching Resume is usually longer than a resume, short versions are two to three pages, and longer versions, for advanced professionals, may be four or more pages.
Formatting Your Resume
It is important to present your resume in a format which allows the reader to see quickly and easily your most relevant skills and accomplishments.
Do not use a resume template. This will not allow you the flexibility you need to present yourself in the best possible way and will not help you to stand out from the crowd.
Guidelines to Remember:
There is no “right” or “wrong” way to write a resume. Your resume is a document that presents a picture of you as a unique individual. It should be targeted to the type of opportunity you’re seeking and should highlight your background in light of this. That said, however, there are a few basic hints to keep in mind as you create the best first impression of yourself as a candidate.
Sending Your Resume:
Finalize Your Resume
You will likely go through many drafts when creating your resume. Get as much feedback as possible, preferably from career counselors, professionals in your field of interest,
and/or faculty members. You will probably get different and sometimes conflicting information from the various people who critique your resume, but don’t let that frustrate you. It is common for different people to have different resume preferences. In the end, it’s
up to you to take as much or as little of the feedback you receive in creating your own unique resume.
One aspect of your resume about which there is no disagreement, is that it must be completely free of typos and misspellings. You can’t rely upon a grammar- or spell-
checker to catch all of the errors. Many employers refuse to consider candidates who have mistakes on their resumes, so be absolutely certain that your resume is perfect before you send it out.
Many employers will ask for a list of references; however, you should only provide them to an employer upon request. That way, you can alert your references that a call is coming from a potential employer. This is especially important when you have faculty references, as they have many students and cannot always remember them all instantaneously. You should not include the names or contact information of your references on your resume, if it is not requested by the employer.
If references are requested, you should include them on a separate sheet of paper, alongside the resume. They should be separate documents, but with the same formatting, on the same type of paper with the same header. Always choose your references wisely and ask them for consent, before you disclose their contact information. Additionally, if they are serving on your resume for several years, always inform them when you are seeking work and provide them with job descriptions so they are informed, if and when they are contacted.
In the art world it is good to have recognizable names of known artists on your resume; however, always choose those who will speak about you most favorably, even though they may have less of a reputation.