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How to Build the Perfect Resume

After helping out with Resumania this past week, I encountered a lot of first-years who were confused and disillusioned at the thought of having to make another resume this quickly into the school year.

I don’t mean confused as in, hey where is the Spangler Meredith Room for Resumania? No, I mean they seemed truly lost by the notion of having to recreate a one-page sample of themselves which could ultimately dictate their career fate. No pressure. How many cranberries did it take to fill one truck? Sorry, I was thinking about something else. The level of distractions at this school can be visually seen in one’s attempt to write a resume as awkward margins, white space, and high school awards dominate the page. People here at HBS are well accomplished. People here can form sentences. People here can’t…..let’s just say these are some tips for resume writing:

Leave a blank space on your resume for future use: When you have your interview and the recruiter asks what this is for, explain to them that you are leaving a blank space for this current job you are being interviewed for. This shows the recruiter confidence and discipline.
Be sure to list your Ivy league undergrad: If you didn’t go to one……wait, what? Where did you go then?

List international travel experiences: Conversation starters will include: “Hi, I go to Harvard, and I’ve been to more countries than you.” Optional add-ons include “I need this job because most of my 60k in loans this year was used to go to Patagonia. Oh, and if you’re wondering, yes it was amazing. Please hire me.”

Know your audience and what is important to them: This advice is copied straight from the career hub website. First off, know your audience. Really well. Talking to a recruiter about his or her spouse and children using their first names when possible is important. Shows you care and that you have been to their house. Secondly, what’s important to them? Definitely your choice of tie, your hair part, the color of your pant-suit, and how much you laugh at their jokes.

Talk about your background in consulting and try to make it sound unique: Throwing the word management in front of consulting makes it more fancy. You consulted managers!?? O. M. G. When they ask you about the company’s execution of your proposed strategy, hand them a prepared Powerpoint and promptly leave the room.

Write in ALL CAPS for important things: This will either show the recruiter that you really value this portion of your resume, or that you are really angry. Example: Varsity Golf Team at (insert Ivy League). Versus: VARSITY GOLF TEAM WAS SUCH A WASTE OF TIME AND I HATED MY COACH AND ONLY PLAYED BECAUSE MY DAD CONVINCED ME IT WOULD HELP ADVANCE MY CAREER (in angry voice).

Make it easy for the recruiter to understand your career path: First, you went to college. Then you got a job. Then you went back to college. Now you are trying to get a job. Unless you spell this out for your recruiters they will not know why you are sitting in front of them.

If you worked in the military before this: Roll up your sleeves, not as a euphemism for the hard work that is about to take place in writing your first resume, but because the tattoos on your upper arms will likely be a better talking point in an interview than your lack of relevant business experience.

List all start-up experience: This shows you are a go-getter and like to take chances on your ideas. Coincidentally, a failed start-up has the same outcome as a start-up that you’ve only talked about and never started. “Yeah….I tried to start a company, great idea, the human capital just didn’t pan out. It’s a shame.”

Include your accomplishments: Should you include your GMAT score? This depends on whether or not it was higher than your PSAT score, your ACT score, or your TOM Midterm. Think long and hard about high school accomplishments. Some of these could set you apart from your peers. Example: Went straight from graduating high school to the NBA. (Other examples are less relevant).

Quantify your accomplishments within your career: This is a good chance to make up numbers and hope no one goes back to confirm their validity.
Have peers review your resume: While they are at it, have them criticize your clothing choice and your hairstyle too. Nothing like 900 Type-A people to tell you how to do something better

October 21, 2013
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