What it takes to create a 'blockbuster resume'

SHARON, Pa. — Penn State Shenango was recently invited to partner with Primary Health Network in Sharon, Pennsylvania, in response to their community initiative, Reach Your Full Potential, a program for adolescents to prepare for the job market. The Office of Career Services was given the task to present on resume writing to high school students.

Thinking about the targeted audience and how best to connect with them while speaking on a fairly dry topic was a concern for Penn State Shenango Career Services Coordinator Heidi Friedrich. So she came up with the idea to utilize movie trailers, which have similar features in regard to professional promotion on a resume, to help her with her presentation.

“While sitting in a theater before seeing the intended movie,” said Friedrich. “The audience is shown an average of four movie previews. Each commercial runs approximately 60 seconds. Highlights are picked from the entirety of the movie, a genre is upheld, and each individual in the audience ultimately makes up their mind, in that short time, if the movies are worth their time to see. It is the same thing with a resume.”

Friedrich decided to test her idea on the high school students. After showing them the movie trailer of, “The Quiet Place,” which no one had ever seen before, many of the students were convinced within seconds that they were interested in seeing the movie. Friedrich then used this finding to explain to the students how their own, professional life history would have to be communicated in their resume in order for it to be captivating to an employer. She explained the importance of how a resume must pull an employer in quickly and create a level of interest that would be an enticement for them to want to hear the whole story.

“Resumes need to be concise, yet flow and tell a story, while still maintaining the integrity of the information and preserving the focus or theme that meets the targeted job needs,” said Friedrich. “Like a movie trailer, you know instantly if it is a comedy, drama, or a horror film. However, if the preview highlights show both comedy and horror, the audience may not be as compelled to view the movie because of the mixed messages, and the same goes for a resume.”

According to Friedrich, a resume is much like a movie trailer because it is meant to peek the audiences’ interest by its content. Like a movie trailer, an employer judges the quality of a resume on whether or not is has disappointed or exceeded their expectations based on the information provided.

“If you do not get an interview,” said Friedrich, “then you may want to ask, ‘Did I focus on the correct highlights of my experiences, did the information I provided reflect the job’s needs, or did I highlight random information that left the recruiter disinterested and confused with mixed messages?’”

Ultimately, a movie trailer and a resume can be a “blockbuster,” but it is important that both make a clear impression, the information is well-organized, and the message resonates with the audience and leaves them energized right to the end.

For more information about Penn State Shenango Career Services and resume writing, contact Heidi Friedrich at 724-983-2844 or email her at [email protected].