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Alaka'i Jaycees sponsors writing workshop

by Crystal Silva, Etcetera editor


“An employer will only scan your resume for 30 seconds,” said Lianne Maeda, director of the Career Services Center. “And he will form an opinion in those 30 seconds whether or not you will be considered for the position.”

Is it any wonder that just the mention of resume writing gives some students anxiety attacks? This is one reason why the Alaka‘i Jaycees at HPU teamed up with the Career Service Center’s to provide a workshop on effective resume writing on Oct. 22.

The presentation on the third-floor conference room of the First Hawaiian Tower building started with the very basics: what is an effective resume? “The answer is simple,” said Maeda. “A resume is something that gets you the interview.” She also cleared up what a resume is not: “A resume is not your life story at a glance,” said Maeda, referring to students who think that the more information they put in their resumes, the clearer a picture they paint of their abilities. Maeda continued, “They want to find out about you as an employee.”

Maeda stressed the importance of having a resume available. “A resume is not just a formality in the hiring process. It’s a tool employers rely on to scan potential applicants,” she said. A proper resume will include information directly related to an individual’s position of interest. Maeda warned against a “one-size fits-all” resume. “People need to tailor their resume to a prospective position,” Maeda said. “One kind of resume may not be enough. You may have to write different resumes to fit different positions.”

There are four types of interviewers according to Maeda: the Relater, the Critic, the Judge, and the Screen. The Relater will take a resume and review it and compare it to others. He then organizes applicants in to a yea, nay, or maybe file. “Hopefully you make the cut,” said Maeda.

The Critic knows exactly what he or she wants. An applicant needs to have the exact qualifications, or your chances of getting the job are nil. The Judge is “the worst kind of person to handle your resume,” said Maeda. The Judge will bring personal bias to his review of your resume. “We ourselves are judges,” she said. “It’s no different in the resume process.” Finally, the Screen is someone who likely does not do the actual hiring. Probably from the Human Resources Department, the Screen will pass your resume on to the hiring manager.

CSC Associate Director Carol Kagimoto spoke on five steps to getting started. “First, compile information about yourself,” she said. “This includes your work history, job titles and descriptions, dates of employment, where you worked, the name of the company.”

Second, research your occupations of interest. “Study the job description very well. Is this a good position for you?” Kagimoto explained that sometimes people are interested not in the position, but in the title it holds or the prestige of the company. Maeda also warned not to take a job just to “get your foot in the door.” Employers will see through that ploy, she warned.

Third, choose your resume format. Will you go with functional or chronological? While chronological is more popular, the format does not work for everyone. Those without an extensive job history or experience, or maybe who work seasonally only, would have an empty resume. The functional style would work best for them.

Fourth, add your own uniqueness to your resume. Employers can spot a resume made from a template, and they are not impressed. Maeda and Kagimoto suggest playing around with your letterhead, the size of headings, and borders. “Maybe add a little graphic in your letterhead,” said Kagimoto.

Last, proofread your document. “We cannot emphasize this enough,” said Kagimoto. Typos or grammatical errors will break you when it comes time to review your resume. “Technology has raised employers’ expectations regarding the quality of resumes and cover letters,” said Kagimoto. “I remember in our time, typewriters were used, and sometimes you could see an error where someone had put White-Out on a mistake. That should not ever happen now.”

Although there are no absolute rules to resume writing, students should always be accurate, reasonable, and appropriate. Kagimoto gave some general guidelines on what not to put in a resume. “Don’t include personal information, like height, weight, age, gender, ethnicity, country of origin, generally not hobbies either, unless they are directly related to the position.” This is where the Judge could come in and prevent you from getting that interview. Other things that should not go on the resume are reasons for termination from any previous employment, and salary information. This information can be given if requested, but not on the resume.

When printing out your resume, Maeda and Kagimoto recommend putting it on 20 to 24-pound stock, letter size paper, white, ivory, or another conservative color. Font size should be kept to a reasonable size, no less than 10-point. “To make your resume stand out, place design elements strategically, but keep consistent. If you use bullets on your different areas, use a bullet every time.”

Lengths of resumes are also an issue. “Usually, one page is good for students or new graduates,” said Maeda. “If space is a problem, take out your objective and address it in your cover letter. It is also assumed that you will give references on request, so putting down ‘references available upon request’ is a waste of space.”

Maeda also gave advice that she herself had come across. “Keep your resume current. Not only your contact information, but also your GPA, your credits, if you’re putting that in, and your work experience.” She also suggested having as many people review your resume as possible, to catch any errors or to give feedback.

One more interesting piece of advice was to keep e-mail addresses appropriate. “I’ve seen some pretty weird addresses,” Maeda said. Remember your e-mail might give a negative impression to an employer, and e-mail addresses could come under the scrutiny of the Judge.

The Career Services Center is on the fifth floor of the First Hawaiian Tower building, and is available to students for help with resumes and other career issues. Call 544-0230 for an appointment.

The Alaka‘i Jaycees are associated with the Hawai‘i Jaycees, and won the Club of the Year award last year. Contact President Smitha Vutharapalli for more information on membership at 585-7488.



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