Is it Cryptic or Scary? Things to avoid doing to your Resume

Although Halloween is just around the corner, be sure to avoid these scary and cryptic things you might be doing to your resume or CV.  Undergraduates, here is a short list of things you don’t want to do!

Only listing your GPA if it’s a 3.5 or above.  This is ridiculous advice that’s often given to undergraduates.  I’ve seen many 3.0 student’s who think they shouldn’t put their resume because it’s not high enough.  First off, if you’re a STEM major you should realize that you likely have a heavy course load and shouldn’t be so hard on yourself. If you decide not to include your GPA then be sure to speak confidently if it comes up. If you’re a first year student without a GPA then include your high school gpa or your community college transfer gpa. Just be sure to include that these are from a prior school.

Scary or Cryptic? 
Scary because you should know that your GPA does not define your interest nor your aptitude.  

Failing to list jobs and opportunities you acquired that were impacted by COVID.
Maybe you got an internship last summer but it was cancelled due to COVID. Maybe you got an REU last summer. Why are you not listing this??? You likely went through interview after interview, got the job offer, even got housing arranged and then suddenly then suddenly you got the call that your internship was cancelled due to COVID. Maybe you were all set to work in a lab but the lab was closed so you couldn’t participate. This is through no fault of yours.  You need to include this!

Scary or Cryptic? 
Cryptic because they will have no idea that you received a job or research internship offer this past summer unless you tell them. Even it it didn’t happen it does show that you have aptitude.

Not listing your professor and/or lab’s name when listing research experience.  I see this a lot and it doesn’t make sense. Why wouldn’t you include your professor’s name?  Here’s an example of how you might list your lab position:
Name of School, Undergraduate Researcher, Name of Lab
Advisor: Your PI or Faculty Adviser, Project Area or Research Area:
then list your contributions and a description of the project. 

Scary or Cryptic?  
Cryptic If you interned at Apple would you list it as a Tech Company in Cupertino?

Not spelling out acronyms Sometimes acronyms could have double meanings.  If you live in Los Angeles and put down USC that means University of Southern California but if you live on the East Coast USC means University of Southern Carolina.  Also, DOE could mean Department of Energy or Department of Education.  

Scary or Cryptic?  
Cryptic. Similarly, what if you are listing an award from ACM.  Is that Association of Computing Machinery or American Country Music Award?
Quick Sidebar: If you won an ACM award (any kind) why aren’t you sharing your story??  

Putting photos on your resume.  It’s generally not customary to include a photo on your resume. It’s wasted space that you could use for listing out credentials that you want to highlight. Save the photos for LinkedIn.  

Scary or Cryptic?  Likely cryptic if it’s an old photo. Make sure your LinkedIn photo actually looks like you.  If you’re still using your senior portrait from high school and you’re now a senior in college you might want to update your LinkedIn photo

Putting company logos all over your resume. Your resume should be text not logos.  Although you might be excited that you had an internship at a FAANG company (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Alphabet (google) it looks really bad to have a resume covered with logos.

Scary or Cryptic? You want your resume to look like a resume not a Black Friday ad we’ll call this one scary because think about what you do with those Black Friday ads that come in the mail. Don’t give them any reason to put your resume in the recycle bin   

Putting a QR Code on your resume If I’m emailing you a resume then a QR is pointless and if you’re handing someone a resume why would you ask them to look elsewhere. 

Scary or Cryptic? Cryptic because I don’t understand why one would put a QR code     

Not including relevant coursework that is in progress and planned.  Think of it this way, you’re likely applying for summer internships for next summer.  With this in mind, remember it will be helpful to include classes that you are taking now AND classes that you plan to take this fall.  Maybe the REU wants someone who has a year or programming experience or year of chemistry by the time the internship happens. Guess what? If you list that then they’ll know you have this.
  
Scary or Cryptic?
This one’s both Cryptic and Scary.  Cryptic because no one will know that you have this coursework unless you tell them and scary because you might be missing out on an opportunity if you don’t include coursework.

Now once you’ve made sure that you don’t have any of these scary or cryptic resume flaws your resume will be as sweet as candy. Start applying now for summer positions now and you’ll see the opportunities come knocking on your door just like trick or treaters.

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