I cringe as I admit this because I realize how bad this sounds. I’m in a field that’s constantly shifting and evolving and I’m fortunate to hold a position where I’m getting a myriad of experiences that are shaping who I am as a professional. And yet? My resume looks almost exactly the same as it did when I graduated with my Master’s Degree.
Over the holiday break I bravely opened the Word document that held my barely-updated resume, knowing that I had some work to do. I was nervous—I didn’t even know where to start or what to do with it. My Student Affairs resume straight out of grad school was three pages long—is that even allowed?
Scrolling through the pages, I realized that I didn’t have to just edit this document—I had to give it an extreme makeover and rebuild it. Questions bombarded my brain. What should stay and what gets deleted? Do I keep experiences from undergrad or give them the boot? How small of a font can I get away with? Do I need a profile on the first page? Should I tease out my committee experiences to show what skills I’ve learned? I was overwhelmed and I felt alone in my experience. In grad school I was surrounded by friends who were questioning the same things and we had the safety net of the Career Center to help us make our resumes shine. Sitting on my couch as I tackled this project, I mourned the fact that I no longer had so many support systems readily available.
After feeling sorry for myself for about ten seconds, I got to work—this thing needed to be cut down and polished up. Using a couple of colleagues’ resumes as guidelines, I managed to tear apart my own. The profile I’d happily written as a grad student was the first thing cut, making room for the committees and presentations I’ve worked on over the course of my time at St. Ben’s. Anything from undergrad was automatically cut—though I adored my time at my alma mater, I realized it was no longer very relevant. I’ve spent nearly three years at my current institution cultivating my career and I have a broad array of experiences I’d rather talk about instead.
Every time I deleted a line, I cringed a little. Making over my resume was no easy task, but it was necessary. A resume should tell the story of who someone is as a professional and what she or he brings to the table. Before January, mine wasn’t doing that. While I may have had to get rid of some things I initially felt attached to, it made way for better things I’ve done. And now I have a strong two-page resume that I can be proud of. I just need to remember to update more than once every couple of years.
Krissy Peterson is a residence director at the College of Saint Benedict in Minnesota.