Thursday, November 19, 2009

Recap: Resumes for Master's Students

This year, GSAS' Master's College is attempting to expand the number of events, workshops, and resources that are created with Master's students in mind. As part of this effort, the Wasserman Center for Career Development has also begun to hold more 'Master's-centric' career-planning workshops, such as "Resume Writing for Master's Students" session. I attended this session this week, and would like to share some of the general tips that Wasserman counselor Lisa Wong provided, as well as give a few more details about the resources available at Wasserman.

The workshop, which about 10 other people (including a few Draper students) attended, was about an hour long and largely informal, structured to allow students to ask specific questions and also review several sample resumes that Ms. Wong handed out in a packet of "Resume Guidelines and Samples for Master's Students." As a Master's student planning to transition into a new profession myself, I found the examples very useful. Each one uniquely addressed the difficulty of entering a field in which one has very little previous experience, and provided a basic template that could be simply adjusted to match one's own particular goals and skill set.

Ms. Wong enumerated a variety of approaches for selecting the most effective resume format for your needs and deciding how best to present skills and information to a potential employer. Some of these are as follows:
  • Resumes should be no longer than one page, unless you have 7-10 years of experience in the field in which you are applying.
  • Margins should be no larger than one inch, no smaller than 1/2 inch. Font should be 10-12 point font in a standard typeface (make sure its readable when you hold it in front of you at arm's length).
  • Organize your experience in subsections that are easy to skim quickly.
  • Many recruiters and employers get around a hundred applications for the same position and will spend 15 seconds to one minute skimming your resume. Make sure your most pertinent information is near the top of the page, clearly organized and concisely summarized.
  • Don't worry if there are 'holes' in your employment history. While common practice once suggested that it was important to show consistent employment, it is now generally preferred that resumes highlight pertinent experience, even if there are chronological gaps.
The last fifteen minuets of this workshop were set aside so that students who brought their resumes could receive a more personalized review. Ms. Wong reminded us that Wasserman holds daily walk-in hours. During these walk-ins, students can have multiple counselors review their resumes and provide feedback and suggestions for possible improvements. Each day's walk-in hours can be found on the Wasserman Web site, here.

It's Draper's hope to co-sponsor a career-planning workshop for Master's students next semester, so we'd love to hear students' feedback on what kind of workshops would be of interest. Possible topics include resume building and interview skills, but we welcome your other suggestions! Feel free to leave them in a comment or email us directly at draper.programATnyuDOTedu.

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