Wanted: Jr. Résumé Writer

by Michael Kline

Resume_WritingDo you recall your first teaching job, or even your first real job? As a customer service representative (counter help) at the local Taco Shoppe, or perhaps a floor maintenance technician (sweeper) at your family’s hardware store, it’s unlikely that you had to qualify yourself for the position much more than meeting with the manager (or dad) and agreeing to perform the tasks assigned to you in exchange for enough money to see you through the next weekend’s mall adventure.

But when you ventured into the world of teaching and academia, it’s quite likely that you were asked to produce a letter stating your experiences, education, overall outlook, and perhaps a brief history of yourself. Though it may sound like applying for a loan (a process I believe to be somewhat related), the formal term for this type of missive is résumé.

A résumé is a one or two page introduction that directs a potential employer to the strengths of an individual, relevant to a particular position being offered. Though it is ill-advised to create falsehoods (okay, lie) within a resume, as motivated people we often tend to embellish some things with creative—often longer than needed—language. Take for instance; if you had a history of being able to walk more than one dog at a time, you might put down that you “Oversaw and managed multiple canines during transitional phases.”

What I’m getting at is the desire to put yourself forward in the best light possible in hopes of advancing your career. Even though I’ve never formerly filled out a résumé, as a writer I’ve actually helped many people craft that perfect blend of experience and likability that employers seek. And I’ve noticed that the skills required for good résumé writing can never start too early. This is where you come in.

The Classroom Résumé

Come to class one day and announce that the circus is looking for some help. Point out that there are several positions opening up, and you would like your students to apply for these “jobs.” The list can include such things as Animal Trainer, Costume Designer, Lighting Coordinator, Tent Construction, Trapeze Artist, or even Ringmaster. You can be creative here as well. Of note; some of my teachers wished I’d filled out a résumé and effectively fled for the circus, but that is for another blog…

On the chalkboard or white board, give your pupils a brief outline of what is expected on a typical résumé, as in the following:

First and last name (typically an address and phone are required, but we can skip that)

Position sought (Animal Trainer, etc.)

Education (grade level they are in now along with any special classes they may have taken that apply to that particular position)

Work experience with dates included (encourage them to make this part up–it could be fun)

Hobbies or other interests (especially those that pertain to the position being offered)

Ending statement (why they would like to work for the circus)

I’ve found that it’s not terribly difficult to get kids to talk (or in this case write) about themselves, but they may need a little prodding. Some classroom discussion beforehand may help to whet their appetites for résumé writing, as it sounds a bit dull right out of the gate. But once they understand the process, you’re likely to have more material on your hands than imagined.

The résumé exercise can also take the form of an outside participant. For instance, you could have your students prepare a résumé as Hobbes the tiger, who is applying for a job as Calvin’s friend. Using the same outline, have them imagine the traits and education that would be useful in landing such a position.

However you approach it, use every step as a teaching moment and be sure to point out how important spelling is when it comes to résumé writing.

Teach. Learn. Enjoy!

Michael Kline

Graphite Transference Specialist