How to Fix Your Resume in 1 Hour – The Border Collective

I’m serious, it’s that easy; you can fix it all up in an hour. But you have to listen to the timer and not procrastinate. Sit down with pen, paper, and laptop and be fully present for this. Preferably your laptop should just have Google open, not 1 million tabs, because those tabs will siren call you. Don’t listen to them. If you don’t listen to this preface, then this won’t work. Yes, you’ll fix your resume, but most definitely not in 1 hour.

Before anything else, let me introduce myself.

My name’s Justine Chua, I co-founded The Border Collective (a blog about everything college kids in the Philippines need to know about the work life) with Betina Ong, and if you want to know more about us, TBC, or anything else, just click around the site. There’s a body of knowledge there that no other website has, which I’m quite proud of.

Now onto why this article exists.

I’m 21 years old, a college senior, and I’ve personally run more than 300 resume consultations in the last 6 months aka I help people present their best selves on 1 A4 when I have free time.

I’ve helped people get to Erasmus, to internships abroad, to scholarships abroad, to Oxford summer programmes, to interviews with the top MNC’s in the country, to their first internship, to their first job, and more. What I’ve realized is this: even the absolute best think they’re shitty when it comes to presenting themselves in resume format. Nothing in school or life prepares you for that. Google is your only friend, but there’s so much information out there made for the West and not as much for the East so we end up not knowing what’s relevant to those of us here in the Philippines.

And I hate to say it, but I’ve gotten really good at fixing resumes and helping people job hunt thanks to my consulting work, the stuff I read, and the blog. (I personally think this is a stupid skill to pick up but whatever, I’m going to roll with it.) Trust in me when I say, I’m about to drop some real talk that helps. I already know what you’re struggling with; don’t worry, your situation isn’t unique.

And as much as I’d like to help everyone with personalized advice, I really can’t. That’s why I’m writing this. For as many people to solve this problem on their own as they can.

The resume is the first hurdle, and arguably the biggest. Nothing’s more daunting than trying to condense your entire college life and career on one flimsy piece of paper. Even if your background is totally impressive.

The longer you put off starting your resume though, the scarier it’ll be. It’s just going to take up valuable brain space and whisper to you negative thoughts all hours of the day until you actually start and finish writing it. So, silence that voice by forcing yourself to knock out a first draft in 60 minutes. Once you have that first draft down, I promise you, it’ll start improving bit by bit as you learn more about yourself.

Anyways, let’s get started. Thanks for reading and hope I write something useful for you!


Choose a template (5 mins)

Literally just google for one. Make sure it’s not the most amazing, well-designed resume on earth because then you are telling the employer that you know Photoshop. Even if you don’t ever say it on the resume. Or at the very least, you’re saying that you’re so extra, you spent a lot of time on the aesthetics of a resume.

But if you are a designer, then you really have to go all out. Showcase your talent from the get go, but remember to study the psychology behind the colors you use since it’ll prime the employers’ perception of you.

The margins and spacing shouldn’t be so big that I can write a full sentence on it. All that empty space just highlights you haven’t done a lot with your life.

Super extra bonus tip from me: Pick a template that doesn’t involve a photo. You don’t need to add your photo at all for the same reason that you should be maximizing space. It’s also silly to do so because most likely, you don’t look good in that photo since it’ll be you all stiff and formal. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot like that.

You can also use the UP, ADMU, DLSU standard template; their career offices are going to say “it has brand recognition”. I agree, it does. It also says that you’re a generic UP, ADMU, DLSU grad who couldn’t have been bothered to google for a template, even though there are more than a million out there. So the choice is yours.

 

Fill in your personal info (2 mins)

I vote making a professional Gmail that’s purely dedicated to job hunting and LinkedIn aka professional things. Some employers reverse google search your email to see what turns up. Ya’ll don’t want them to see your wild party pics, angry Twitter rants, or embarrassing song covers. Bonus Tip: your email shouldn’t be a bunch of letters and numbers like jltc1131995@gmail.com. That’s not memorable. Use something like jennifer.ltco@gmail.com.

Personal Info Checklist: email, cell phone number, LinkedIn URL

That’s literally it. Nothing else. No address. No height or weight. No ‘single’, ‘married’, ‘in an open relationship’. Nothing irrelevant or too personal.

 

Delete your objective, references, and bullshit skills and interests (3 min)

[This is a generic career objective I screenshotted from a LinkedIn connection. It’s too long, all over the place, and peppered with filler words. Don’t do this.]

If you spent forever writing it, copy and paste it somewhere safe to keep it in your heart. If you haven’t started writing one, good job, you saved yourself some heartache. But in the end, a career objective is irrelevant, especially if you’re a good candidate. You’ll need to save that space to make everything relevant fit.

Alternatively if you’ve done nothing with your life and cannot fill that 1 page up, please add your objective and references into it. Hide your ineptitude with a wall of text.

[Notice how disjointed it is, like something no one would ever say out loud. Don’t do this. Make sure to read aloud everything you wrote to see if it sounds human.]

For objective, there’s a right and wrong way of doing it. I’ve shown you the wrong. For references, writing that they’re available upon request is a waste of everyone’s time. Either add in their name and numbers or don’t write it at all. For bullshit skills and interests, keep in mind this: if it is not a fact, delete it. Being a competitive golfer for 13 years is a fact; being a skilled communicator and team player isn’t.

 

Choose 5 things to write into it (10 mins)

List everything you’ve ever done down, and then pick just 5. I mean it, just 5. My pick is always 3 work experience + 2 co-curricular but not everyone has that. At the very least, try to add in 1 work experience that’s relevant to the job at hand.

Super bonus points if you can write “Published Papers” because who doesn’t want to say they’re a published author??? It also highlights that you’re analytical, collaborative, and good at condensing what you learned to share with others.

Don’t stress over remembering everything you’ve ever done; chances are that if you’ve forgotten it, it wasn’t important to your growth in the first place.

 

Write those 5 things down (30 mins – 6 for each)

Ah, the hardest part. I have a formula down pat for this but unfortunately, I’m not sharing that here publicly. Yet. That’s what I teach those who book resume consultations with me. I’m sure you guys can write this part down though; there are a billion resources online that tell you how to do so. Pick one and try it out to see if you feel comfortable talking about yourself that way.

This will be the bulk of your resume, which is why it takes so much time. There are at least 4 ways I can count to write up what you did and the results of those actions.

Super extra bonus tip from me: Don’t write in 1st person. No “I was in charge of handling the accounts”. And no extreme bragging that’s practically lying. Nobody is going to believe that you “singlehandedly hit the year’s fundraising target, therefore saving the org from extinction”.

(That is an actual line I’ve seen in a resume. I had to put the paper down, take my glasses off and pray for patience. Everything after the comma was unnecessary bragging on the owner’s behalf.)

 

Beg your honest friends to critique your resume (5 mins)

Usually an offer for free food gets them on board. Don’t ask them to critique it professionally; ask them to read it as a normal person and give you feedback on what their impression of you based on the resume is.

Did they like you? Did they feel like they want to work with you? Do they feel like it’s truthful to who you really are? Did you come off as competent?? Does the resume sound like it was written by a human being, and not a robot or desperate job-seeking Gollum-like creature?

And tell them to be super honest. Don’t let your feelings get in the way; everything they say are all just their perceptions based on a piece of paper, not on their perceptions of you as their friend.

This takes 5 mins because if your friends are as honest//brutal as I am, they’re not going to want to give you the ~real opinion~ because they don’t want to hurt you. Alternatively, if they’re super excited to shred you to pieces, do rethink your friendship with this person.

 

Give yourself a pat on the back for doing all of this//have a good cry at how difficult this was (5 mins)

Congrats!! Once you finished asking for feedback, sit down and rest. Don’t bother reading the feedback or re-editing right away; your brain will be fried, your emotions will be exhausted, and you will be consumed with thinking about your impending job hunt. Let yourself recharge. And don’t worry too much. At least you took 1 hour off to do the super basic things that normally takes worried job seekers a whole day.

Spend these 5 minutes thinking about how you’ll rest. Take the rest of the day off. Or if you’re like me, take 2 hours off to chill, knowing full well that you’re going to worry incessantly the whole time about the comments, so much so that once that timer runs out, you’ll immediately start working again. You know, normal thoughts.

But kidding aside, do take a break. That’s going to be incredibly helpful before you start the editing process. You want to be well-rested and as unbiased as you can before you start rewriting. And once you’re ok, restart this whole 1 hour process but instead of writing down your first draft, spend it refocusing your resume based on the feedback you got.

And that’s it. You’ve fixed your whole resume in 1 hour.

Related: 14.5 Things You Didn’t Know Had Resume Value


Doing it on a deadline helps, because you’re forced into finishing it rather than on perfecting it. Number one thing I stress in resume consultations, you’re never going to pass a perfect resume. There’s no such thing as one. You’re going to pass a great resume that highlights who you are, but that’s it. You’re never going to pass a “I’m the best person you can ever hire” resume that alerts every single company to you and has them blowing your phone up with calls and texts. To get that, you need to be famous already for your work, something I’ll talk about someday. Not impossible but highly unlikely to happen to the general populace.

Anyways, wishing you guys luck as you fix up your resumes. If you really do need help though, I’m opening up a few slots for resume consultations before school starts for me because I know how difficult it is for most people. Emotional support is an unspoken part of resume consultations, along with career advice and connecting you with job opportunities in my network.

For those of you interested in availing of some focused resume consultation time with me, check out the packages here at http://bit.ly/ResumeConsultations.

Easiest way to get more content like this is through The Border Collective’s Sunday newsletter, sign up for it here http://bit.ly/TBCSundays.

And if you want me//TBC to write more articles like this, let me know on the comments down below, in an email, or just like and share it. Seeing audience reactions with the stats is how we gauge what kind of articles to write or not. So if we see no traction, then we’re never going to write another one like this. Simple as that.

If you have anything else you want to ask, say, or comment about to either Betina or me, email us at either justine@thebordercollective.com or betina@thebordercollective.com! For partnerships and business deals, like our features on Startup Weekend and Woman Up 2016, you can email admin@thebordercollective.com.

Like The Border Collective’s Facebook page and if you have any questions to ask us anonymously or anything you want us to write about, drop it into the comments down below, or to our ask.fm and Google Form!

Thanks for reading and hope I wrote something useful for you!

Why You Should Be Attending Conferences

I love going to conferences. They’re the most productive way to spend your day, even if some think it’s a waste of time. It’s only a waste of time, if

1) the conference is badly run,

2) the speakers are terrible, or

3) you’re uninterested in the topics. Continue reading “Why You Should Be Attending Conferences”

4 Ways Joining a Competition Benefits You and Your Resume

So, we reposted the 14.5 Things You Didn’t Know Had Resume Value on Facebook the other day, with no edits at all, and it got more than 2000 hits in the last 48 hours. And because it’s out there floating around, we got a question on our ask.fm, that I found very interesting. It goes,

“Hi guys! Just curious, where can I find solid experience to talk about in interviews??? :((( I don’t feel like just talking about my orgs or acads all the time since I think i look boring to the recruiters.”

Continue reading “4 Ways Joining a Competition Benefits You and Your Resume”

The Basics of Interview Prep with PrepMe

Betina: So your resume made it past the screening stage and you got called in for an interview? Congratulations! Now don’t blow it. Here’s a few key things to keep in mind for a smooth interview:

  1. Know your resume inside and out

Interviews are your chance to sell yourself to the company beyond the piece of paper that is your resume. Know your accomplishments, achievements, and other relevant experiences, because that’s what you’ll be asked to talk about. While you can’t predict what exact questions you’ll be asked, you can have a few answers ready to the questions that are most likely to be asked.

Continue reading “The Basics of Interview Prep with PrepMe”

6 Habits of a Failproof Pre-Interview Routine

Justine: Hey there, readers! While watching the Vice Presidentiable’s debate the other day, I realized something. “How did they become such eloquent, spontaneous speakers in front of crowds of thousands, while most people my age can’t do a presentation without faltering?”

Continue reading “6 Habits of a Failproof Pre-Interview Routine”

What We Look For In A Company

Justine: Happy first day of freedom, dear readers, but the work never ends for Betina and I so we decided to start the week with Part 10 of the Internship FAQ’s series!

Today’s post deals with WHAT WE LOOK FOR IN A COMPANY. How do you know that this is the company you want to dedicate a sizable amount of your time too? What are the things Betina and I look for when we’re interviewing with a company? How do you know whether to avoid a company? We’ve done everything by trial and error, so we’re pretty knowledgeable on the pitfalls millennials should avoid for a happy work life. I think.

Continue reading “What We Look For In A Company”

3 Answers to Is Interning Worth It?

Betina: Hi readers! We’re back to our regular programming and continuing our FAQs! Between rounds of internship interviews and career fairs, it’s been a busy couple of weeks, and we’ve still got one very long week to go until midterm break, but we had time to answer just a few questions for you 🙂

Justine: So, to recap my past week at least, I went to UP Career Fair almost everyday to support the INKOMPASS signups there and also to go check out the candidates for this year’s batch of INKOMPASS interns. I also went to drop off 8 people’s resumes, which was intense because there were over 100 booths there. I ended up getting calling cards to send my resume to since I didn’t bring a hard copy. What do you guys think about us writing a how-to guide to career fairs since Ateneo’s is fast approaching?

Continue reading “3 Answers to Is Interning Worth It?”

9 Tips To Ace Your Next Phone Interview

Justine: Betina and I both finished our phone interviews with Unilever in the past 3 weeks, and because she wrote way back when that she had just finished hers, a lot of you sent in questions about how to go through the process! So, in the spirit of giving, which is what this blog is all about, we decided to write some tips down for phone interviews!

What we are not giving to you in a million years is the questions that were asked to us because that isn’t fair for both you, us, and for everyone else. (B: Preach!) If you get in because you super prepared for your interview like Betina and her hundreds of index cards, then good job! If you got in because you “cheated” by preparing only for the questions of the interview, then here’s a tight lipped smile for you. (B: Die.)

Continue reading “9 Tips To Ace Your Next Phone Interview”

5 More Answers To Your Not-As-Frequently-Asked Questions

Welcome to Part 7 of the Internship FAQ’s series here on The Border Collective where we answer the internship questions no one else has been answering! This is our first post since hitting 1000 likes on our FB page, so we decided to answer some of the hyper specific questions hiding in our inbox to clean it out!

Continue reading “5 More Answers To Your Not-As-Frequently-Asked Questions”

14.5 Things You Didn’t Realize Had Resume Value

Betina: Hi dear readers! Over the past few weeks, Justine and I have been giving out advice about resumes, interviews, and pretty much everything to do with internships. (J: Which you can find on the sideboard. If you want, start with Part 1 here!) A lot of the advice we’ve been giving out has been with the context of framing your org work and internships in the best way. But lately we’ve had a bunch of questions along the lines of ‘What do I write on my resume if I’m not active in orgs, have no internship experience, and have a mediocre QPI/GPA?’

Continue reading “14.5 Things You Didn’t Realize Had Resume Value”

11 Things to Keep in Mind for Your Next Interview

Betina: Hello! I’ll be taking the lead on this week’s post. I’m assuming that if you’re reading this you’ve read our other posts, but quick recap if not: Justine and I are frequent collaborators and former blockmates who are unofficially 3rd Year BS Internship double minor in Orgs and Acads. I like people; Justine, less so. (J: I like Coke, if that helps.)

Earlier this week, I had a few internships interviews and I realized that Justine and I have been so focused on how to make a resume, that we haven’t really talked too much about what happens during the rest of the recruitment process. So we decided to tackle something that 90% of the people I know fear: interviews.

Continue reading “11 Things to Keep in Mind for Your Next Interview”

3 Things You Need To Know Before You Go Off Internship Hunting

What should have been this Thursday’s post is coming out a bit late because

a) I posted the Blogapalooza one on Wednesday evening, thereby messing up the post frequency, sorry not sorry, and

b) Betina and I put a bit more thought on what we wrote here than we normally did.

For most of you reading this series, the Internship FAQ’s is the closest, and potentially best, source of information you will get about interning as an Atenean. Or at least, that’s what we’re getting from the feedback we’ve received so far.

Continue reading “3 Things You Need To Know Before You Go Off Internship Hunting”

6 Incredibly Long Answers About Interning

For those just joining us now, my name is Justine Chua, my co-writer’s name is Betina Ong, and we are currently writing the Internship FAQ’s! We’re on part 3 already, so when you finish this up, I suggest you go to the posts before this and read the rest too. 🙂 If you can make a wittier, funner sounding name for this series, we would be greatly indebted to you because I am not punny or funny at all, so the name’s kinda boring. My friend voted we name it, “How to Survive the Semi-Real World”, and I’m actually a little tempted to. What do you guys think?

Continue reading “6 Incredibly Long Answers About Interning”

4 Specific Questions About Interning

I like the questions asked this time around because they were similar questions I was asking in my head too before I started interning. These are the nervous, unsure questions that go through every student’s mind before they intern, in my opinion.

Continue reading “4 Specific Questions About Interning”

The 15 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Interning

Not everyone has the same opportunities, even if they’re in the same situations simply because everyone only sees what they want to see. That’s a fact I realized when the other day, 6 random people messaged me about interning. These were hardworking people, good grades, good orgs, good everything. And they were nervous and curious and questioning me about interning. Me who has no good anything. How did it end up like this??

Continue reading “The 15 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Interning”