Years later, my face still flushes with embarrassment whenever I think about the first time I visited my university’s career center to have someone look through my resume.
I was a pearly-eyed freshman eager to attend the school’s career/internship fair and was feeling really confident about how my first DIY resume looked…
That is until I actually placed it in front of my career advisor. She took one look at it and almost immediately, furrowed her eyes.
Then she said, “This is an okay start. But you have a long way to go to if you want to be presentable for tomorrow’s internship fair.”
My heart sank.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“If you want a shot at being considered, you need more than this. You need to learn how to customize your resume for the internships that you want to apply for. Make sure you CUSTOMIZE. CUSTOMIZE. CUSTOMIZE.”
What a wake-up call. It took me a bit of time to recover from my initial shock and embarrassment. But when I did, the first thing that came to mind was how insane this was. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
Do you know how much time it takes to even write a resume, let alone writing a brand new one for every scholarship, internship, or job that you want to apply for? How do these people expect us to do this? We’re not superhuman!
But fortunately, after devoting several years to trying to figure this out, I finally came up with a system that works for me. So to save you the headache, I’m going to share this with you!
To make this deal even sweeter, I’m not going to bore you with a dry, uninspiring blog post. If I’m going to teach you, I might as well make it entertaining. So I’m going to teach you by showing you how I would customize Selena Gomez’s resume.
And yes, I know that most of you reading right now are probably not an international singer and actress with multiple side businesses and one of the youngest people to be appointed as a UNICEF Ambassador.
Thus, it’s only normal that you’re wondering how reading about Selena Gomez will help with your resume? Well, lucky for you, the general tips on how to customize your resume are about the same across the board so if you’re going to learn, why not give it an entertaining twist – Hollywood style?
So let’s get started! And while you’re reading this, you might as well listen to Selena Gomez and Blackpink’s new summer single, “Ice Cream” at the same time? This song is quirky, but I promise you it’ll get addictive before you know it – just like ice cream!
STEP #1: CREATE AN ALL-INCLUSIVE, MASTER RESUME
Imagine for a moment that you hit the jackpot and won a free trip to your dream holiday destination. It’s all-inclusive, all-expense covered, over the top, extra luxurious, fulfill-your-every-fantasy type of holiday package.
That’s the kind of package you want your master resume to be like.
I know that resumes are rarely going to excite you in the same way that an epic vacation will, but I think you can still get excited about how awesome you look on paper. 😛
Now back to what a master resume is. Like that awesome holiday I mentioned earlier, a master resume is basically the granddaddy of all resumes!
It’s an all-inclusive, super comprehensive, exhaustive list of everything that you’ve ever participated in all compacted into one single document.
It will serve as a database for all your achievements that you can pull from when you start customizing your resumes.
Format It As You Would For Any Resume
Now the reason why I’m calling this a master resume as opposed to just calling it your “accomplishment list” is because you really should think of it as an extended resume.
So try your best to format your master resume just like you would for all the future resumes you’ll send out with your applications. By formatting it in with all the headers, sub-headers, margins, fonts, and font sizes, it’ll help you save a HUGE amount of time when it comes to customizing.
You want your master resume to be so well put-together that you can literally copy and paste certain parts of it onto a new Microsoft document, polish it, and VOILA, you have a new customized resume.
Even if it doesn’t start out at first, your master resume will likely grow to be several pages long so you need to find an efficient way to organize all the information.
Because of that, it’s a good idea to start experimenting with different sub-categories you can use to organize all your achievements as opposed to common categories like “professional experience,” “work experience,” and “extracurriculars.”
Though there is nothing wrong if you just want to stick with these standard categories.
Fill In All The Details
Although this step is optional, I would highly recommend you fill in all the details and bullet points to your most significant achievements.
You’re going to have to write these out sooner or later if you want to include them in a resume so you might as well get the bulk of the work done when you’re compiling your master resume.
You might hate yourself at the time, but believe me, the future you will be unbelievably thankful especially if you find yourself in a time crunch and need to crank out a new resume.
Once you’ve compiled your master resume, try to update it regularly whenever there are new developments in your academic or professional career.
Think of it like adding new gold stars to your professional report card. 😛
And it doesn’t have to be substantial either. Even if it’s just jotting down a few bullet points, it’ll help you keep track of all the new things you get involved in.
It will also help jog your memory later when you go get a chance to sit down and properly write out your achievements.
STEP #2: CUSTOMIZE YOUR RESUME
Once you’ve put together your master resume, it’ll be really easy for you to start customizing your future resumes.
All you need to do is figure out what customizations you’ll need, compile the relevant parts of your master resume into a new document, and polish it.
Analyze What Your Target Audience Is Looking For
Before you get started customizing your resume, do some thorough research on the program that you’re applying for and try to figure out how the perfect candidate would look like.
For example, if you’re applying for a diversity scholarship, they’re probably looking for someone that has a diverse and unique background.
If you’re applying for an internship at a national newspaper, they’re probably looking for someone with journalistic and public speaking experience.
Having a better understanding of what your target audience is looking for will give you direction on how to develop your resume.
Highlight Relevant Skills and Experiences
Once you know what your target audience is looking for, make sure you highlight all relevant skills and experiences. And make sure that you place the most important/impressive information in the top third of the resume.
Most people only skim through resumes so having it as near to the top as possible will help ensure that your target audience will get a good look at your most compelling achievements.
Use Similar Language As Your Target Audience
While you’re doing research on the program that you’re applying to, see if you can also pick up any jargon or language that is unique to the program.
Maybe the program really values “making a personal impact” as opposed to “making a difference,” then try to incorporate that language into your resume.
STEP #3: POLISH THE RESUME
Last but not least, make sure you spend some time polishing your entire resume. This means combing through every word to make sure that your message is expressed in the most effective and concise way as possible.
Check Your Spelling and Grammar
No matter how good a writer you are or how meticulous your work usually is, always always make an effort to double-check your spelling and grammar! It might seem minor, but even small typos can taint your target audiences’ impression of you.
Plus, it’s pretty easy to do these days! Just make sure you turn on your spell check or run your resume through Grammarly or even get a friend to read it through for you.
Use Action Words
Double-check all the action words that you’re using at the beginning of each bullet point.
Action words are super important in conveying the achievements that you’ve made but it can be surprisingly tricky to find the right ones.
You want action words that are powerful but also accurate in how they reflect what you’ve accomplished. So double-check to make sure you’re using the best words possible.
Be Creative In How You Word Each Bullet Point
In the world of resumes, real estate is the biggest commodity. With only one page to spare, it is beyond vital that you use the limited space as effectively as possible.
So read and reread each bullet point to make sure that your message is written just right.
There you have it! That’s how to make it easier to customize your resumes.
Join me next time as I do into detail about what I learned when I tried writing a resume for Selena Gomez.
“Selena Gomez MTV VMA 2011” by AleeDear is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
Adaptations made under the same terms.