Resume Ready


Trying to get a job is oh so much fun right? RIGHT?! Well…it can be if you turn trying to get a job into a job itself…and trust me, true job hunting is pretty much a full-time gig (minus the fabulous pay of course). Before becoming a Paper Darter, I worked on five other publications and for two publishing houses…and here are a few tips I’ve picked up along the way.

Here is the line-up for the next 6 weeks (a new post every Sunday).


It is a hard cycle getting started…you need experience to get a good job/internship...but you need a good resume to get the interview…but you need experience to have something to put on your resume! However, it all ultimately boils down to the resume. Even if you think you have nothing to put on your resume, you’re going to need to find something. (I’ve even included my own resume for inspiration/critique at the end of this post!)

In several positions, I’ve been on the side of sifting through hundreds…almost thousands of resumes and here are a few things that most employers find really annoying.

  • Lack of Consistency: All spacing, formating, everything should be consistent. If you put the city of a job in italics, make sure for rest of the jobs you follow the same pattern. If you aren’t consistent, it shows the potential employer that you aren’t detail orientated.

  • Lack of Copy-editing: (While this is important for any industry, EXTRA important if you’re applying for a publishing/communication position). Make sure you have 2-3 of your best copy-editor friends look over your resume.

  • Organize Experience by Relevancy: If all of your experience is relevant, just call this section “Experience” and organize chronologically. If you only have a few items of relevant experience, title the top section “Relevant Experience” and then after that include additional jobs under “Other Experience.” You want your best experiences to be the first items. There is nothing more frustrating than reading about three different waitressing positions only to find at the very bottom that the person also copy-edited for a newspaper and interned at a publishing house. If I have 800 resumes to go through, I might not even read past the first couple of job experiences before making an initial decision.

  • Boring descriptions: Don’t get repetitive with the wording of your descriptions. Include action verbs to start off each description...avoid the passive!

Making it seem like you have more experience than you actually do.

The first step getting into the publishing industry (during or after college) is to get your first internship. But how do you get the first internship with no previous experience? Time to get creative.

Writing/Reading Class: Did you take a college class that refined your editing/writing skills?

Possible examples:

Advanced Fiction 4225, University of Minnesota

Minneapolis, MN Fall 2008

•    Developed strong knowledge of AP editing guidelines

•    Learned respectful workshopping skills

•    Authored four pieces of writing (each over ten pages)


American Literature 4325, University of Minnesota

Minneapolis, MN Fall 2008

•    Expert in contemporary literature

•    Analyzed theme, structure, and development for modern writing

•    Reviewed the artistic and commercial viability of current authors

Extracurricular Activities: Hopefully you joined at least one club in college…no matter what it was you can find something resume worthy, but make sure to give it a  “publishing” spin. Example:

Toad Research Club, University of Minnesota

Minneapolis, MN Fall 2008

•    Composed detailed written reports verbalizing research observations

•    Collaborated with a team of five to execute a professional and creative multi-media presentation

•    Publicized upcoming Toad Club events by writing press-releases, updating Facebook Fan Page, and sending out email alerts

If you only have experiences like “waitressing,” “babysitter,” “fast-food guy,” then think how you can create exciting bullet points:

•    Communicated effectively with customers daily (fast-food guy)

•    Organized and managed engaging activities (babysitter)

•    Managed customer expectations (waitress)

Achievements: Include all awards, scholarships, accomplishments, and any conventions/seminars attended.

Hopefully that gives a few ways to beef up your resume!

I asked my good friend and publishing extraordinaire, Nicolle Westlund, for some of her resume rules:

1. Keep it to one page. No matter how much related experience you think you have, don’t let your resume exceed a single page. Make a sidebar column so you can include additional achievements. Decrease your font by one point. Reduce your margins. Use short, snappy bullet points instead of full paragraph descriptions. You’re applying for a job in the writing and editing industry – show ‘em your stuff by editing your own resume.

2. Get rid of your “objective.” If you’re applying for a job in the publishing industry, your objective is obviously to get a job in the publishing industry. Reiterating that only wastes precious space you could be utilizing to showcase your invaluable experience.

3. Be mindful of your file extensions. Everyone knows (or should know) that emailing can royally mess with the format of a Microsoft Word doc, especially if you attempt any funky formatting (tables, images, etc.). Avoid ruining your hours of slaving over centering your name and squeezing all your experience onto that one precious page by saving and sending your resume as a PDF instead of a “.doc” file. Looks classier too.

4. Make it easy to contact you. Don’t hide your contact info in a weird image, or along the bottom of your resume in 10-point cursive font. While your phone number and email address shouldn’t occupy half your resume, it should be prominent enough that a recruiter doesn’t have to take a magnifying glass to your resume.

5. Add some pizzaz. Don’t let your resume get lost in the shuffle because it looks like 95 percent of the other resumes in the pile. When applying for a writing job, it always helps to demonstrate that you have at least a pea-sized amount of creativity. If you don’t, fake it. Add color to your name. Use an unusual (but readable!) font. Design a logo for yourself. Just do something to stand out.

If you aren’t getting calls for interviews, the problem is probably with your resume. Whether you are creating it for the fist time, or revising it after five years, always try to edit and refine your resume for improvement.

If you have any resume tips/tricks that I've passed over, help others out by leaving your suggestions as a comment!

Make sure to stop back in next Sunday…I’ll be listing the best internship hot-spots, good organizational tactics while on the hunt, and showing which job search engines are worth your time. (Subscribe to The Dart Blog)


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