The narrative resume

When I was a kid, a CV / resume meant a short narrative, starting with a couple of lines about your family: “I was born in a humle working-class family. My father is a member of the Communist party.” It was such a relief when the lean list/ table was introduced in the 90s: we could write only the relevant, and the readers could easily spot what they needed. They could ask us to elaborate on the items at interviews.

Not all colleges require a resume. Some of them just ask you to fill in some information into grids they have provided on their application forms or to include it in a personal statement. Providing them with a lean list of activities and awards could be easy, but it might not reveal much about you. That’s why I have been encouraging students  to elaborate a little on most items.

Here you can find  an older text on resumes with a sample attached. However, I don’t like the format anymore. A lot of space is used on activity titles and numbers ( hours per week, weeks per year, school years, etc.) and the most meaningful information is squeezed into the last column. It’s true it looks much nicer in a landscape rather than portrait format, but still … 😦 That’s why I believe it would be much better to produce a one-column thing, with titles in Bold, and the “numbers” included in the title. The elaborations should go below.

Basketball – 9, 10, 11, 12 year – 6 hours / week, 50 weeks / year

Some elaborations –  bla bla blablablabla bla blablablablablal bla bla blablablabla bla blablablablablal bla bla blablablabla bla blablablablablal bla bla blablablabla bla blablablablablal bla bla blablablabla bla blablablablablal bla bla blablablabla bla blablablablablal bla bla blablablabla bla blablablablablal bla bla blablablabla bla blablablablablal bla bla blablablabla bla blablablablablal bla bla blablablabla bla blablablablablal bla bla blablablabla bla blablablablablal bla bla blablablabla bla blablablablablal bla bla blablablabla bla blablablablablal bla bla blablablabla bla blablablablablal bla bla blablablabla bla blablablablablal bla bla blablablabla bla blablablablablal bla bla blablablabla bla blablablablablal bla bla blablablabla bla blablablablablal bla bla blablablabla bla blablablablablal bla bla blablablabla bla blablablablablal bla bla blablablabla bla blablablablablal bla bla blablablabla bla blablablablablal bla bla blablablabla bla blablablablablal bla bla blablablabla bla blablablablablal bla bla blablablabla bla blablablablablal bla bla blablablabla bla blablablablablal bla bla blablablabla bla blablablablablal bla bla blablablabla bla blablablablablal bla bla blabla blab la blab la. (that’s 150 words!)

The list does not need to follow the order I have provided in my older text. I believe it should follow the order of importance for the applicant.

Why should you elaborate on items?

1. Because some of their titles are sheer mystery to readers. What does “A member of the BZDP” mean? Take a look at the activities in this resume – that’s what I advise AGAINST.

2. Even if readers understand the title, it might still tell them too little. Everybody knows what “basketball” means, but how could one know if you have played for fun with the kids on the block or professionally on the national youth team? What if you have coached a group of kids as well?

3. You could use the opportunity to show that the activities have done you good, that they have helped shape you as the nice (versatile, etc.) person you are today.

4. You could show that you have developed some skills and characteristics that you can benefit from throughout your college experience.

5. You could demonstrate you have (acquired) some skills and characteristics that will help you succeed in your chosen career (if you are declaring it at a liberal arts school or applying to a career preparation program).

What do you need to tell?

1. Describe the activity – you already know that even self-evident words like “basketball” do not offer enough information, but do avoid definitions of popular words like “basketball”.  Take a look at this resume – it offers specific information – I like that!

2. If you have been part of a team, describe YOUR part of the job.

3. What challenges have you faced?

4. What have you gained – what have you learned, realized, etc.?

5. What impact have you made? How have you been useful to other people, to the environment, etc.?

How long should a separate entry be?

Well, if you could squeeze it into 150 words, it could be really nice, but it might be impossible. I suggest you start by writing down everything you feel like sharing, and then I’ll help you cut down. Be lavish during the first drafts and frugal on the final. The perfect draft: when nothing more could be added. The perfect product: when nothing more could be cut down.

What are the items worth mentioning?

Everything matters during the first draft! Write as much as you can; be careful not to omit anything you have done out of the classroom, even the things you find unimpressive. It doesn’t matter if you have done these alone, with a friend, with you grandma or as part of a formal group, no matter if  you can provide (official) evidence or not. I’ll help you rule out the things you’d better not mention.

Don’t wait for a complete first draft to send to me. You’d better send a separate entry as soon as it is ready, so that we work faster!!!

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One response to this post.

  1. What’s up i am kavin, its my first occasion to commenting
    anyplace, when i read this post i thought i could also make comment due
    to this brilliant paragraph.

    Reply

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