Creative Activities for Teaching Resume Writing

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Endlessly editing your students' resumes may help them land a job or two, but it doesn't teach them any lifelong skills. Instead, you should be teaching your students how to write their own resumes in a way that is compelling and effective. Classroom activities can help your students cultivate the skills they need.

1 Choosing Resume Words

A 2013 LinkedIn survey found that words such as "strategic" and "innovative" are highly overused. These words don't convey much about an applicant's skills. The University of Michigan encourages students to use action words that convey achievements rather than just listing their duties. Encourage students to brainstorm two lists. One list should include action verbs and specific adjectives that present a candidate's compelling and relevant skill sets. The other should be a list of words that are empty and overused.

2 Identifying Resume Don'ts

The University of California at Berkeley emphasizes the importance of avoiding common mistakes such as lying about job titles or leaving out dates. Ask students to devise a list of resume don'ts, then to create a list of ways these various mistakes cause readers to perceive resume writers. For example, a man who has a resume written in the Comic Sans font might be perceived as being computer illiterate or having bad judgment about presentation.

3 Writing Someone Else's Resume

Writing your own resume is particularly challenging because it requires an honest and exhaustive self-assessment. Scholatic suggests asking students to begin by writing someone else's resume, such as a celebrity or cartoon character. Encourage students to focus on the positive and minimize the negative, to discuss possible interview questions and topics, and to evaluate any weaknesses in the pretend candidate's application. Doing so can help them do the same thing with their own resumes.

4 Group Resume Critiques

It's often easier to accept criticism when you're also dishing it out. Ask students to develop resume rough drafts, then schedule a group resume critique. Each member of the group must listen to other's input, then provide input. Johnson County Community College advises students to offer first impressions about whether the resume looks professional, to evaluate whether the resume is tailored to a specific job's requirements, to check for grammar and syntax errors, and to ensure a resume highlights specific accomplishments.

Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.