Using Resume Templates Effectively

Posted: April 14, 2010

This blog is presented by one of the ECIP advisors, Daniel Lamone.

One of our responsibilities here at ECS is to review those pesky quarterly activation forms. We are usually looking for large, glaring errors on resumes that have been overlooked or providing advice for those resumes that could use some work. But this spring quarter's activation forms unveiled an issue that concerns our office - we are reviewing nearly the same resume each time. Many of you are utilizing our templates to build your resume (which is fantastic), but an alarming number of you are not effectively applying the templates to best market yourselves. Here is what we mean...

ECS provides resume templates to you as a foundation from which to build and communicate your marketable skill sets to recruiters. After years and years of recruitment, we know what works best (from students' successes) and we know what recruiters prefer on resumes (they tell us). The templates are also designed to be customizable for each student. Each of you has a unique set of skills and experience to market to employers and it can be difficult, especially for the first time, to professionally communicate your story on paper. We are happy to see that most of our students are using these templates as a first step but we are concerned that only a select few have personally customized these templates.

While reviewing the quarterly activation forms, we notice that many section headings and their listed order are exact copies of the templates regardless of the information contained within them. We see resumes hiding amazing internship and co-op experience at the bottom because work experience was listed at the bottom of a template. We see 183 bridge projects from three years ago listed above junior (and senior!) year engineering projects. Campus leadership roles for upperclassmen are often briefly mentioned because multiple lines of text are spent listing completed freshman engineering coursework. We see all of these examples, and more, far too often.

Recruiters only need a few moments to decide whether or not you are a candidate they wish to investigate further when looking at your resume. It is imperative that you organize your most relevant and marketable skills to be easily found and found first. Think about your skill set, your experience, and your story. What about it you do you wish employers to consider first? Pretend for a minute that you are a recruiter; is the organization and description of your story appealing? What could make it better? Think about this every time you update your resume. Your resume is endlessly dynamic and needs to best market you. Successful students are those who consider these questions and make the necessary customization to their resume. It is certainly not easy. Even our most successful students seek out our advice after getting writer's block on their resume. You should to - we are here to help.

"The key to wisdom is this -- constant and frequent questioning"
-Peter Abelard

Authored by an ECS guest.