Think about your audience when applying, was one of the first pieces of advice given by the American Planning Association Resume’s for Today’s Economy panel. Controlling your message, marketing yourself and establishing your ‘brand’ is a large part of standing out to hiring mangers. Bower suggested re-reading the job advertisement and contacting HR to find out who is involved in making the hiring decision to help you properly highlight relevant experiences.
Merriam called upon the audience to “clean up [their] closets [to] get ready” for interviews by creating a Google Alert for their name, periodically googling themselves, updating their LinkedIn profile and managing their Facebook wall. Managing what you write online and what is written about you is essential to “maintaining your place in a larger network of professionals.” “Even if you are not looking for a job,” Merriam warned, “you are by default a representation of not only yourself but your company.”
Lilley explained that often the first person reading your resume is not in the profession. To ensure that the first person reading your resume understands that you are a great match for the position, she suggests you “translate” industry jargon into language a regular individual could understand.
According to Lilley, hiring Managers “have the attention span of a nat.” To get that interview use action oriented words when describing your responsibilities and specific numbers when you can. You must highlight how your previous experience, whether paid or unpaid, relates to the current employment opportunity you are pursuing.
Collaboration and working in teams is key to the success of any urban planning project. When describing your responsibilities always indicate whether you worked on a team and how many people you collaborated with. In addition, if you were on a team that won an award, be sure to share that you were an individual part of a team.
All the panelists did not agree on the use of objectives on resumes. Bower found that an objective could be useful if it aligned with the hiring organization. He explained that he wants to hire people who have special interests or skills and a passion for what his company does. All of this, he argued could be conveyed in a well-structured objective. Lilley, on the other hand, found that insincere objectives could get applicants in trouble. She warned the audience to tailor their objectives to not only the hiring organization but their own, real career interests as well.
Double, triple, quadruple check for typos. In addition to making sure you check spelling and grammar, Merriam advised double-checking that track changes was turned off if you are sending resumes in a Microsoft Word format. Avoid fancy fonts and layouts and make sure your resume photocopies well. To ensure your resume maintains its format, the panelists suggested converting your resume it into a PDF.
When asked about the three most important things to keep in mind when writing a resume, Lilley replied, your resume must be:
- An interesting representation of who you are;
- Relatable to the position you are seeking;
- And, accurate.
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