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Résumé Tips for Filling Out Your Skills

June 11, 2020

Presented by Kim Schroeder, career advisor for Wayne State’s School of Information Sciences

In looking at your résumé, it is important that you remember that the reviewer
(whether a person or a computer) is looking to understand what type of employee you will be. A bullet point list of duties at a job does not differentiate you enough from others.

Image of a resume on a computer screen.Think about who you are. Have you been given increasing responsibility? Have you proposed process improvements? Have you volunteered in the community? Have you managed volunteers or events? Have you handled a problem patron?  Have you taught workshops on technology?

Think about what your MLIS or Graduate Certificate gives to you. Is there a key student project or paper that fits in with the job that you are applying for? Is there a link to a project that you can include? Are there niche courses that would differentiate your skills for that particular job? Have you written a process manual? Have you evaluated a new technology? 

Think about the technologies in which you are most competent. List everything that you have been exposed to on every level. Grade your comfort level as you would a foreign language. For instance, you may have basic knowledge of DSpace or Millennium, but have advanced abilities in HTML or Omeka.

Think about your other life experiences and what skills they could bring to this job. Were you in retail? Then you may have a strong customer service background. Were you a community activist? That shows strong community involvement. Were you a teacher? That shows an ability to instruct patrons.  Were you a computer technician? That shows an ability to problem solve technology. 

The biggest mistakes that I see:

1) Résumés written for past careers
Your resume’ needs to reflect your current information skills. You can present some information on past jobs, but re-write them for the information professional that you are now.

2) Résumés lacking commitment to community or profession
You need to be involved in conferences, student groups, regional professional groups, etc. This differentiates you from others. Get involved in committee work, publish a small article in a regional newsletter or submit a research poster proposal to a conference. Work with a colleague and write a full article. Show your interest in making the field better.

Common résumé questions:

1) Can a resume go to a second page?
Yes! If you look at the complexities of job postings in our fields, it is necessary to cover extensive skills. I can help you to build out your résumé to delineate your background in the right context.

2) Should I apply if I do not meet all the criteria?
My rule of thumb is that if you have about 85 percent of the required skills, then apply. With complex postings, it is unlikely an institution will find the right person with all skills, so focus on your strengths and apply.

3) How far back in my chronology should I go?
There is no universal answer for this. It depends on how you can relate that experience to the current job posting. You can skip some jobs that are not as directly reflective of the information skills for a position. Feel free to note a key skill from an older position. Remember that the employer wants to know what you offer for this job and some other positions may not be relevant. Include what makes sense for the job to which you are applying.

4) I have a diverse background will it look like I am undependable?
In this case, you may consider a skills based résumé, which focuses on your depth of skill regardless of job title or discipline.

Here are some examples of this type of résumé:

https://www.themuse.com/advice/is-a-skillsbased-resume-right-for-you

https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/resumes-cover-letters/skills-based-resume-template

For more information, visit the School of Information Sciences’ Career Advising page or contact Kim Schroeder at ag1797@wayne.edu or 313-577-9783.