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No one is born with the ability to write a great résumé. When it comes to one of the most important documents in your life, it’s generally true that effort leads to result. In fact, the résumé that landed me my first “real job” was probably poked and prodded over the course of ~100 hours. You read that right: ONE HUNDRED HOURS.

“Come on, is that really necessary?” you may be wondering.

Keep in mind that 100 hours was over the span of about a year, and as I collected more relevant experiences, I continued to make tweaks and refine. So no, I didn’t lock myself in a room for 4 straight days until my fingertips were raw from turning the pages on my thesaurus.

Now that I screen résumés as a regular part of my job, I wanted to share a crash course on crafting a stellar résumé, from a recruiter’s point of view.

A typical Marketing New Grad résumé should contain the following sections, in this order:

  1. Header (Name, Contact Info)
  2. Education, including any scholarships, case competition placements, international exchange, and/or other accolades
  3. Professional Experience
  4. Extra-curricular Experience
  5. Interests, including any “zingers” that make you memorable or help dimensionalize your personality (more on these in a future post)

Here are my top tips for what to do/what not to do when it comes to actually blowing out each of these sections.

1. Your résumé should fit on ONE PAGE

At this point in your career, you do not need multiple pages to gain access to an entry level job. One-page ensures you keep it short and sweet, using only the hard-hitting points that will sell you well.

2. Do not write job descriptions as your experiences.

Too often, I see résumés that contain bullet points like this:

“Managed Facebook campaign to drive engagement and boost sales”.

This is a job description (not to mention vague AF). It’s probably what your manager tasked you with. It does not show me, the recruiter/prospective employer, what YOU are capable of, how smart YOU are and why I should be impressed by YOU. Instead…

3. Craft your bullet points based on the CAR principle: Context, Action, and Result.

This is the single most important piece of advice I have for your résumé. The point of the “CAR” principle is to ensure that you fully provide the context (why you were tasked with something, what problem you were trying to solve) before diving into what actions you actually took. Context and Action may be discussed together because you should be starting each bullet with an action verb. Finally, state the impact of your actions in the form of (preferably quantifiable) results. Every bullet should follow this format, and yes, your bullets can contain more than one full sentence (mine are usually 2-3). Following our last example, the bullet point should now read something like this: 

“Managed 2-week Facebook campaign with budget of $5K to address declining traffic to online store. Developed and published a 5-part series of dynamic posts with the goal of driving click-through to website. Campaign resulted in a 2.3% click-through rate, which is 2.6x better than industry benchmark.”

4. Results do not have to = $.

While it’s true that the ultimate down-stream goal of marketing is to drive sales, it’s not the only thing that can measure impact on your actions. When thinking about what results you can showcase, always think back to the objective – what were you trying to achieve with the task at hand? That’s what I tried to showcase in the example above. In another example, let’s pretend you managed the marketing efforts of a local coffee shop. Your task was to understand more about the type of experience a customer wants when they buy coffee, in order to recommend a superior experience to the chain stores like Starbucks and Second Cup across the street. A “win” in this case may be using the findings of an online survey or a small focus group to influence the store owner to implement design changes to the store layout.

5. Delete old and irrelevant experiences.

Not only to make room, but also because irrelevant experiences can sometimes dilute your brand as a marketer. The only exception here would be if you made a conscious pivot from another specialization to marketing, and that is weaved into the story you want to tell prospective employers on why your passion lies here.

6. Don’t discount extra-curricular activities.

Above all, employers want to hire people with leadership potential. Extra-curriculars signal to me that you took initiative where you could. Even better if you were in progressive/leadership positions within those organizations, and even better yet if those organizations were focused around a personal passion point of yours. This hits multiple birds with one stone.

7. Formatting

Your résumé should be 1) easy to read, and 2) clean and simple. There is certainly room for dashes of personality (particularly if you are vying for agency-side roles, and even some marketing roles), like having an accent colour for certain headings, but be careful not to over-do it. If the personality comes at the expense of being reader friendly, then please elect to KISS.

8. Zero tolerance for incorrect spelling, grammatical errors, or incomplete sentences.

Every résumé that you deem “complete” and ready to send out should be proof-read with fresh eyes (leave it for the day and come back to it tomorrow). Better yet, get 1 or 2 friends to look over it for you.

Did I leave something out that you think is important? Let me know by getting in touch!

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