Looking to impress a potential employer? A recruiter? Better make it quick–a few seconds is all you have.
A good resume can open new doors; a bad one is likely to be tossed into that infamous “file.”
“Your resume is your selling point,” said Alsu Zinnatullina, an FIU senior majoring in accounting and finance. “Companies see your resume first and then they meet you.”
Zinnatullina took advantage of a rare opportunity to have her resume critiqued by executives who make actual hiring decisions at Career Management Services.
The September 30 event drew 101 students and executives from seven top employers, including BNY Mellon, Inktel and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Each student had a 15-minute session with one of the employers present.
The executives held nothing back, commenting on everything from the font size and ink color to the resume’s tone and what or how much information to include.
“We are fortunate to have so many employers willing to provide honest feedback to our students,” said Sara Lipman, executive director of operations and strategic initiatives at COB. “This so nicely compliments the career development education our staff provides on a daily basis.”
Denise Bacallao, a COB undergraduate majoring in management and human resources, returned to college at FIU in August 2012 and turned to Career Management Services for help in making herself “more marketable.” She met with Jasmin Rodriguez, human resources coordinator at Lennar Corporation.
A close examination of Bacallao’s two-page resume generated constructive criticism from Rodriguez: streamline a long paragraph of work experience into bullet points, keep it to one page if possible, eliminate jobs that aren’t relevant to the position being applied for, and highlight expertise in specific computer programs–like Excel or Visio–that are relevant to the company or industry.
“Make sure you tailor your resume to the job you’re looking for because when going over a large number of resumes, many companies use keyword searches that highlight specific terms they’re interested in,” said Rodriguez. “I look at education and experience to see if it matches what I’m looking for.”
COB students make the most of hands-on advice from experts.
Armed with what she described as good suggestions, Bacallao was ready to revamp her resume. “I’ve been out of the market so long, my resume needs help,” she added, pointing out that she will incorporate pertinent keywords into her new resume. Among the suggestions that Rodriguez offered, one that stood out for Bacallao was the use of bullet points. “I thought that would make a resume look less professional,” she said.
Vladimir Diaz, regional director for Florida and Puerto Rico at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, was very direct when meeting with students.
“The font size should be 12 and the color should be all black; delete all graphics unless you’re a graphic artist or applying for a job in that field,” he told a student working on an MBA in accounting. “That’s a very traditional field and that’s how your resume should look.”
Diaz also suggested that the accounting student quantify his employment experience by including the number of clients served or the number of tax returns prepared.
“You have to point out your skills very carefully,” he noted. “Your ability to effectively communicate your education, experience and skills is critical to obtaining employment opportunities in government, business, and non-profit organizations in the U.S. and around the world.”
Customization and attention to detail are key for a good resume.
Among the must-haves that Diaz suggested students highlight were their projected graduation date and GPA, the full name of the degree accompanied by any specific area of concentration or specialization, participation in any honors organizations, and awards received.
“Think of the resume as your 30-second commercial,” Diaz said, noting that the USDA is always looking for good talent. “You want to make it as easy to navigate visually as possible.”
Some students reacted positively to the executives’ suggestions, others shrugged. A few said little, hinting that the criticism wasn’t well received or that tips would go largely ignored.
The consensus among students attending the event: it’s a valuable resource and others would be wise to take advantage of the event.
In addition to having his resume checked out, Brandon Rodriguez turned to Career Management Services to develop direct connections with the participating finance and investment executives.
“I’m going to ask them what they’re looking for in an ideal candidate and what the culture is like at the company,” said Rodriguez, who’s specializing in sales and trading or equity capital markets. “And I’m sure they’ll point out something to add or that needs improvement [in the resume]. Maybe I have too much writing.”
Employers in attendance:
- BNY Mellon: Nicole Izquierdo, Portfolio Administrator
- BDO: Natalie de Rojas, Recruiting Senior Associate
- Inktel: Tim Sanchez, Vice President of Talent Acquisition and Development
- Lennar: Jasmin Rodriguez, Human Resources Coordinator
- TEKsystems: Reena Aubrey, Account Manager
- Wells Fargo: Lupe Casanova, Vice President – Senior Relationship Manager and John Martinez, Recruiter
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Vladimir Diaz, Regional Director