Crafting Your Resume

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In high school, I was told by a Careers Advisor that employers receive hundreds of CVs and if yours doesn't stand out, there's a high likelihood that it won't even be looked at. She advocated the use of decorative borders and coloured pages to draw the eye away from the plain white paper and black Arial 11 font of the rest of the pile. 

I took the advice a wee bit too literally an submitted my first CV to multiple businesses right out of school with hand drawn blue flame borders and  stylised dragon on the front. Amazingly, my parents actually allowed me to mail it out and more amazingly, I got my first full time job with it - at a place I stayed through five years, four promotions and six payrises. 

While you don't need blue flames (and we certainly don't advocate it!) on your CV, a little extra attention can mean the difference between an instant no and placement on the maybe/yes pile. 

1. Spellcheck and Sanity Check

This should be an obvious one but I've received so many CVs in the past where he words 'Curriculum Vitae' were intentionally spelled out rather than abbreviated but were misspelled or where the company name was actually an entirely different company showing the person submitting the CV must be sending it out to multiple openings and didn't have the forethought to check that the previous submission hadn't carried over. If you are going to make a point of mentioning the company or the position in your resume or cover letter, ensure they are the right ones.

Don't use your computer's inbuilt spellcheck, read it out to check for readability, grammatical errors, typos, spelling and continuity errors before finalising.

2. Include Your Contact Information

Many times we've received CVs we loved but the person didn't include even basic contact information meaning we couldn't contact them to schedule an interview - these weren't low level jobs either, we're talking submissions for C-Suite roles.

If your email address is the same one you set up at age 13 when you were finally allowed one, change it - no employer wants to receive a CV submission for a high-level role from lilmissnaughty's Hotmail address.

Include your full name, contact address, email, phone and a Linkedin profile if you have one. Add a section immediately at the top to include a very brief overview of your skills and experience so the recipient has an idea of who you are before they look into the detail. 

3. Present Your CV to Stand Out

While MS Word and similar provide adequate templates for building your resume, buying a template online from Etsy,  a creative store or through JAGGAR's Online Services, can create not just a professional, well-presented CV but also a personal brand. Ensure that your chosen template is clean and easily readable and try your hand at creating a personal brand logo to set yourself apart. This is especially important if your desired role is in the creative field.

4. Make it Short and Sweet

Your CV needs to be succinct. Don't list all your bobbies or certificates and specific classroom studies. A simple note of your highest school and tertiary qualifications, the provider and date is sufficient.

Under each role heading, add a short two to three line description of your responsibilities. If you have more than this and find it relevant to the role you're applying for, add it in bulleted form and keep each point to one line maximum.

Eliminate irrelevant information and if your first language isn't English, don't use large words in an attempt to convey a deeper understanding of the language because this usually translates to a nonsensical resume.. 

Starting Out

In high school, at some point in the syllabus, you're granted career advice from either a guidance counsellor or in some schools, a dedicated Careers Advisor, however in all reality, you haven't the faintest clue what your plans will be, what the world will even be 5 years, 10 years, even 30 years down the track. Knowing the way interests and trends are so cyclic makes it difficult to even conceive of what road to take this early on.

Some of you knew what you wanted to do for as long as you remember and while a good percentage of those people will flourish in those careers courtesy of grand ambition and ceaseless drive to achieve, others find themselves back at square one after years of study for that dream career when they realise it isn't a good fit - like the girl who dreams of being a surgeon only to find out she doesn't have the stomach for the gorier aspects of medicine. 

The good news is that it's no longer your grandparents' generation or even that of your parents'. We now have the ability to change professions at any stage in the game, start businesses of our own, manage with single incomes and children all while pursuing a career we love, one we're finally passionate about. 

It's easy to find yourself overwhelmed by the choices, by the knowledge that you can do absolutely anything you set your mind to, the world is entirely open to you, ready for you to make your mark, and you may be stuck on how to manage it. 

While back in the day, the plan was to decide what to do with your life, the question now is rather, what to do now, what to do 5 years from now, 10 years from now because the career landscape is forever changing and evolving. Opportunities we didn't have even a decade ago are now abundant. 

But while it can be overwhelming whether you know what you want or you haven't the faintest clue, here are a few pointers to help you edge in the right direction: 

1. Try Different Things

While most wouldn’t advocate 'shopping around', trying different professions on for size, discovering different passions and interests is the best way to determine what you love and what you want to put your efforts into. Don't stay in a role so long that you're wasting time planning for a career that doesn't interest you but also, make sure you give each role a real chance. 

A role should excite you and invigorate you. There shouldn't be any issue with Mondays. Trying a role on for size will help you to determine both what you like and what you don't allowing you to cross certain professions off the list as you go.   The same goes for hobbies - you’re more likely to discover something you love to do through friends or partners inviting you along to try their hobbies than going it alone because so many of us are anxious about trying new things by ourselves. Next time you get asked to join in, try it on for size, see how it fits and if it doesn’t you haven’t lost anything by trying.

2. Say 'Yes'

Similarly to the above point, we definitely advocate saying ‘Yes’ as often as logical and practical. The film ‘Yes Man’ affected a great number of people for the better by the simple act of saying ‘Yes’ to opportunities that present themselves. The film was of course a gross over exaggeration of the effect because Jim Carrey’s character agrees to every situation, regardless of logic or practicality and finds himself in wild situations that just wouldn’t occur, but the basic premise can be extremely powerful. Not only does it open you up to a myriad of new opportunities whether they be in work, personal life or hobbies, but they have a similar effect on you personally and your willingness to try, to look foolish, to do something you’ve never done or deliver more than the average Joe. Just try. Just say ‘yes’.

3. Not Qualified? No Worries

When searching for a job, it's natural to eschew roles that call for qualifications or experience that you may not have, however as long as you have a plan of attack for how to gain those skills or qualifications, you’ll find a lot of businesses are actually really receptive to both your attitude and willingness to learn.

If you were to simply apply for roles you can achieve without effort, you’re not going to be stimulating your mind enough in the day to day and you’ll associate work with oppression and negativity.

Apply for roles you want, that you would be ecstatic to be offered and begin expanding your skill set to align with the kind of role you desire.  Ensure you update your CV each time you gain a new skill too!

Now for the great part: JAGGAR wants to help you figure it out!

We are in an age of possibility, one wherein we can change paths mid-career, go back to school to study something entirely different, follow passions instead of available jobs, if it doesn't exist, we are now in a position to create it for ourselves. 

We want you to test the waters, we want you to push boundaries, irk out a place for yourself, one that fulfills you and motivates you. We want you to try one industry out for size and if it doesn't fit, try another and so we're partnering with a variety of businesses to find you the internship or job opportunities to do just that.

Head over to our Jobs and Internships page to find any opportunities posted and if your dream opportunity doesn't appear, comment on our post "Test the Waters" or send us an email to let us know your aspirations and the opportunities you wish to see.

Preparing for College / University

Going away to college (or University in NZ) is one of the most exciting times in a person’s life. The age-old adage says “the friends you meet in college are the friends you’ll have for your whole life” and it’s fairly accurate. Understandably, however, most people will be very nervous heading into their freshman year.

For lots of us, it’s the first time we’re living away from our parents – especially if you’re only seventeen or eighteen. This means doing your own laundry, preparing your own meals, and taking on a lot of responsibility you might be unaccustomed to. Not to mention, there’s the whole school thing to take care of as well.

College can be intimidating, but if you know what you’re getting into, you’ll survive.

Your new life can be divided into three parts:

School Life:

Regardless of what you may hear, the reason you’re at college is to learn and get a degree. You don’t want to waste your (or your parents’) money, so it is important that you find the balance needed to get your school work done.

Now, I won’t sit here and tell you that you have to go to every class, do every assignment, and study until the wee hours of the morning – I’ve been to college and frankly, only the most studious can keep that pace up - usually at the cost of another aspect of their life.

Instead, you need to go to your classes until you learn which ones can be skipped on occasion. Now, I by no means am encouraging you to skip class for no reason – you’ll be tempted, especially since this may well be the first time in your life where you can skip and no one will say anything. The fact of the matter is merely that not all classes need to be attended. Go for the first few weeks and figure out which those are. Many professors will post the lecture slides online after the lecture – if they don’t, you really need to go to class. Some teachers merely go over the readings they assigned you – this can be a waste of time if you did the readings. I’d recommend either going to class or doing the readings, at the very least.

Tutorials and labs need to be attended. Many classes contain a ‘tutorial’ or ‘lab’ component where you put into practice the things you discussed in lecture. A lot of these give marks based on attendance and completion (as opposed to grading actual assignments) so these are usually important to attend. Again, go for the first several and establish whether you can miss one here and there.

Also keep in mind – just because a class can be skipped doesn’t mean it should be skipped. Obviously you won’t get as much out of a class you don’t attend often, and really, that’s the whole point of going to post-secondary education, right?

A final thought on the school aspect of your life: just do the assignments. Try to get them done by the due date, but keep this in mind: sometimes it’s better to take the penalty for submitting something a day late (as long as it isn’t too steep – usually about 3%) than submit shoddy work. So if you have to finish something but just can’t do it, don’t fret too much. And don’t be afraid to talk to your professors and Teaching Assistants (TAs) to get advice! It’s what they’re there for, and trust me, they want to help you.

Social life:

This one may seem obvious, but – assuming you actually like other people – it’s important to keep up a social life as well. Chat with your new roommates when you can, try to hang out with other people on your floor, go to faculty events – whatever you can do to just have some fun and blow off some steam. With a few exceptions, most people cannot continuously study and focus on school without having an anxiety attack. Going bowling or to dollar beer nights at the local watering hole is one way to relieve this stress.

Drinking not your thing? No problem. There seem to be a lot of myths that you’ll get pressured into drinking and doing drugs and all that bad stuff once you get to college – but honestly, it’s not that bad. People try to be friendly and offer you a beverage or a cigarette etc., and if you say no, they shrug and say ‘more for me!’ Not a big deal.

Most post-secondary institutions also have a ton of extracurricular clubs and activities. Usually in the first couple weeks, there will be club booths set up in a main area where you can check out all the different ones being offered. Don’t see one you like? You can create one.

The point is, take time to socialise. While your education is your main purpose at college, a giant aspect of it is also the people you meet. You’ll make friends for life here, and trust me, it won’t be the seminars and lessons you look back on fondly.

Personal life:

This may seem similar to social life, but to me it has a crucial difference. Most people need to take time for themselves. Even the hardiest partier needs a break once in a while, and it’s important that you take the time you need.

Stay in one night and watch Netflix. Play some n64. Even take a nap. Personally, I love being around people. But sometimes I'd find I'd just had enough and wanted some ‘me’ time – you’ll usually be able to find space to do your own thing, whether it be your room or the common room or somewhere on campus.

It’s much easier to do well in school when you’re rested and motivated, and it’s much easier to get yourself pumped for a night out when you’ve relaxed all day. Classes and friends are important, but the most important part of all is you.

Oh and one more thing – make sure you call home once in a while. Although they may have pretended otherwise, your parent(s) will want to hear from you – as lame as that may sound.

 
 
 

Cam Parkes

 CONTRIBUTING WRITER