Next Steps: Resume Writing
By Katie Mulembe, Catholic Volunteer Network
Right around now, you may begin to think more seriously about what your next steps will be. There are many factors to consider as you prepare to move forward, and it is a good idea to approach this decision slowly and prayerfully. No matter what route you take – graduate school, an internship, or a full-time job, you will need to have an updated resume ready. This year of service has given you many new skills and experiences that you will definitely want to showcase on your resume.
It has been said that employers spend less than thirty seconds screening each resume they receive. Therefore, it is essential to have a resume that is well-formatted and clearly showcases your qualifications. The following tips will help ensure your resume passes that test:
Display name and contact information clearly at the top of the resume. Be sure to list your professional email address, not your school or work address, so that you don’t run the risk of having an account closed on you before you hear back from an employer. Also, keep it simple when it comes to email addresses. It is best if your address is some form of your name, rather than nicknames, attributes, or hobbies.
Start with the most important information – it is okay to have a two-page resume if you cannot include all your important experiences and accomplishments on one page, but be sure to keep your greatest accomplishments towards the top of the first page. In most cases, three pages is too much information for a resume.
Use reverse chronological order throughout – always start with your most recent positions and follow with older positions.
Clearly designate sections for work, education, and other skills. This helps employers find the information they are looking for very quickly.
When emailing your resume, send it in PDF format. This will ensure that your fonts and formatting will display properly on the employer's computer.
Get a second opinion – after spending so much time perfecting your resume, there still may be some errors or typos that you miss. Having someone who knows you well reviewing your resume helps ensure that you are presenting yourself accurately. You may also consider contacting your college Career Services office because they are often able to extend their assistance to alums as well as current students.
Don’t leave out AmeriCorps! If you served as an AmeriCorps member, this is a great asset to include in your resume. Even employers who have not heard of your volunteer program will likely recognize AmeriCorps and understand what your experience was like.
How do I showcase my volunteer experience on my resume?
Finally, the big question we are always asked is “how should I showcase my volunteer experience on my resume?” Your service can actually appear in a few different places on your resume, it doesn’t have to be limited to just one mention. Your commitment to service will be a strong indication of good character, which really helps you stand out from the crowd.
More specifically, you should definitely include your service placement under employment, since you served in a long-term, full-time capacity. Include your position title, the name of your placement site, and your program name in this area. You can describe the other components of your program, such as community living, social justice, and prayer under “Volunteer Experience” or “Related Experience.” If you learned a foreign language or other specialized skills through your volunteer service, don’t forget to include that as well.
Since you are living in community, consider reviewing one another’s resumes. You know each other quite well by now and will be a good judge of the accuracy of the resume. Perhaps there will be some important qualities that your community will notice in you that you didn’t know you had!
We wish you all the best as you begin to take these next steps!