So much rides on one piece of paper.
A resumé, instructor Nigeria Bell told her Human Development 101 students, “demonstrates who each of us is,” so it’s important to emphasize the qualities and skills that make you the best fit for a potential job.
Now, Bell asked the class, who likes writing resumés? (One yes. One maybe.)
“I’ll be honest,” Bell said. “I don’t like writing them either.” But with a focus on four key components—format, job-specific information, other relevant content, and accurate spelling and grammar—a resumé can represent the applicant and catch the eye of an employer.
And so the 14 students in this Monday’s Human Development class began the tasks of identifying necessary facts and details, comparing resumés and coming up with words and phrases for their own.
That’s one of the goals of Human Development 101—a class designed to provide students the skills to navigate both college and career. The quarter-long class covers stress management and test-taking strategies, along with setting job goals and writing resumés. The resumé, Bell explained, is part of a culminating project—an action plan for college.
“We want students to identify the career they’re hoping to achieve and build a road map to the future,” she said.
For the resumé-writing assignment, some students already had a document to update, while others were about to draft their first one. Students broke into groups to brainstorm the essential categories of information.
Joshua Keely brought his resumé to share with his group. Classmates Judy Rudolph and Eric Bass noticed how Keely separated the text into “qualifications,” “work experience,” “education” and “references.”
“I had a fair amount of work experience before coming here, but I don’t think my resumé is complete,” Keely told them. “Like maybe I should list extracurricular activities. It depends on the job.”
“I’ve seen resumés where the person puts something about themselves at the top,” said Judy Rudolph, who, after 36 years as a radiology technician for the same company, is a resumé first-timer.
“What about other training?” offered Eric Bass.
“Let’s call that ‘special qualifications,’” Keely said.
Across the room, Michael Curtis and Jamie Schuppan hashed out how much detail to include about their time in the Army.
Human Development caters to a variety of students–“whatever stage they’re at,” Bell pointed out. Veterans make up more than half of this particular class, so the resumé discussion raised questions about how to describe jobs whose duties were classified, and whether to list military awards.
To the whole class, Curtis suggested a focus on the big picture: “It’s about what you can do, how professional you are at it, and why you want this job,” he said.
Next up: writing that resumé, both in class and at home, according to a grading rubric Bell provided.
Donnell Johnson knows one thing: A polished resumé can be the ticket to a job.
“Nobody is going to hire you if you don’t take time on your resumé,” he said.