CSUN professor gives seven resume writing tips to students

Marissa Kindelspire

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There are seven key factors to catching an employer’s attention when applying for a job.

Dr. G. Jay Christensen, CSUN management professor emeritus, said the difference between applying for a job and obtaining an interview rests on an individual’s resume.

“The job market is tough, and employers are being inundated with resumes,” Christensen said. “The problem with this is in the timing.  Most resumes are only given about a minute of time each. You have to make that minute count.”

Christensen taught at CSUN for 38 years as a business communications professor. After retiring in 2008, he continued to offer tips and tools to those looking for their place in the working world.

Christensen said to avoid “resume tuning.” Although the effects of the recession have reached out to the job market, it is important not to  be tempted to exaggerate a job title or workplace tasks to impress potential employers, he said.

Straightforwardness and honesty are key in compiling a resume, and inflated titles are often transparent, he added.

Christensen said a resume must include the past 10 years of an individual’s working life. College students who have not worked that long should not worry though, he said.

“As long as a person includes what they have done, an employer will take that into consideration,” Christensen said. “What one has to realize is that lack of experience is not the end. There was a time when the employer had no experience, either.”

Lack of actual work experience in a specific field may seem disconcerting, but those applying for a job possess classroom skills that can be referenced to in a resume.

“College students have so much experience that they overlook when applying for a job,” Christensen said. “Include that research paper or project you worked on as well as any accomplishment that will show the employer that ‘I’m not just a person who’s applying – I am a potential employee of value.’”

When listing jobs and activities, summarize general experience and concentrate on the most present accomplishments, he said.

“Include the most recent work you’ve done, even if it’s working in retail or fast food,” he said. “Even if a task seems menial, it shows that you’re not afraid of work. Don’t include that you scrubbed a floor as a work skill, but promote yourself from within the job and show any management and forward-thinking skills you have.”

Junior Amanda Rostran, 22, child and adolescent development major, agreed with Christensen.

“Resumes are really important in summarizing your work experience and history,” she said. “I actually haven’t updated mine recently, but I will, especially when I decide to look for a new job opportunity.”

A resume should be updated every six months, and at least once a year, Christensen said.

The recession has taken its toll and created a mentality where people feel like they need to really impress an employer, Christensen said. Instead of making things up, applicants should focus on being forthcoming with their experiences.

Brooke Sosa, 22, art major, said she recently applied to numerous jobs and realized that an element missing from the process was a complete resume.

“Putting together my first resume was really intimidating,” she said. “I didn’t know what I was doing because no one had ever sat me down and shown me how to do it properly.”

In order to put together her first resume, Sosa said she spent multiple hours researching the Internet. Websites with templates served as the basis for her resume, and eventually helped her get the job she works at today.

“The site I found was bare-bones and no-frills,” she said. “It helped me build a resume that represented me and the work I’ve done, and so far I’ve had no complaints from employers.”

As a member of Career Directors International (CDI) since 2001, Christensen said there is a trend of resume fraud in the working industry and he said i should be avoided.

“Applicants are not the only ones committing fraud to get a job,” he said.  “Executives, deans of schools and CEOs of companies have been caught adding fluff to their resumes and years later, are discovered after a routine background check.”

Christensen added “moral disengagement” is an issue in those who commit resume fraud.

“Some people get away with embellishing a little bit on their resumes and feel like if they’re doing a good job now, the past doesn’t matter,” he said. “Unfortunately, it does matter and the past always comes back.”