Yamin: Focus on activities that count

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Yamin: Focus on activities that count

Jennifer Yamin, Columnist

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With Winter Quarter coming to an end and the smell of internships and application deadlines in the air, there seems to be one thing on a lot of Northwestern students’ minds: resumes.

There’s no hiding it. The late nights at Norbucks spent writing bullet points about your fraternity’s philanthropic events, determining whether you have “proficient-” or “conversational-” level skills in Chinese and wavering between size 10 and 10.5 Times New Roman font to fit everything that personifies your professional experience into a one-page Word document. Let’s face it: We’ve got that resume fever.

And because there’s no avoiding it, we may as well put our best efforts toward our resumes. These efforts, however, tend to get lost in the perfect image we try to create of ourselves. Recently, a specialist in career enhancement and employer relations analyzed my resume. The most important lesson I learned was that resumes should avoid filler content.

To do so, the content we choose to place on our resumes should not be representative of who we are trying to be, but rather of who we are. Joining a group for the sole purpose of it being “a great resume builder” often leads to roadblocks. The passion for this group becomes artificial, and doesn’t allow us to truly embrace ourselves.

This barrier caused by filler content can be evident in interviews for jobs. What we decide to put on resumes is important and paints an impressive picture on paper. But during an in-person interview, an employer is seeking knowledge about the potential employee beyond what is on the sheet of paper. Employers can ask you to elaborate upon certain parts of your resume, because anything you include is up for grabs. But there are only so many answers we can rehearse before we are hit by a curveball.

An exceptional response to these types of unexpected questions can only emerge from genuine, truthful experiences. Filler content, on the other hand, is usually not representative of an authentic, legitimate passion for a certain group, accomplishment or work experience. When an employer asks you to elaborate on a specific experience or an organization’s successes, they are looking for more than polished, bullet point answers. They seek responses that have developed from particular experiences about which we have had passionate feelings from the start.

When we speak of who we are and not who we hope a resume can portray us as, we can find success. We all have the tendency to join groups we think will improve our resumes and have a positive impact on our careers. Yes, it is acceptable to strive to try new things. But I caution against becoming a member of a group solely for the purpose of adding more to your “work experience” section.

Prior to searching for that perfect “resume builder,” I urge you to step back and think if that experience will be something about which you can proudly speak from the heart. I am proud to say on my resume that I am a student-athlete and an opinion columnist for The Daily. If a potential employer were to ask me to elaborate upon either of these, I would be able to provide a natural, fulfilling response. You should be able to do just that. Disregard filler content and embrace you for you.

 Jennifer Yamin is a Communication sophomore. She can be reached at jenniferyamin2016@u.northwestern.edu.  If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to opinion@dailynorthwestern.com.