The Assessment Diaries: The Mystery of the Resume Writing Assessment (Part 1)

Desalina Allen

Desalina Allen, Senior Assistant Director at NYU Wasserman Center for Career Development
Twitter: @DesalinaAllen

In career services, most of us are used to facilitating workshops that teach our students or alumni skills.  The topic could be leadership, networking, career research, or social media and the job search.  Oftentimes, after these events we send out surveys to determine just how much students learned.  We ask if students feel more comfortable with the topic and understand some of the key take-a-ways. We may even throw in a satisfaction question or two.

Today,  I want you to imagine that you’re getting ready to facilitate one of those workshops and the topic is: Resume writing!  Don’t get too excited….

You know how when you start a presentation, especially one you’ve done often, you pretty immediately get a sense of how the audience will respond?  Sometimes you walk in and students are just waiting for you with that expression on their face that tells you even if Eddie Murphy were giving this presentation they might sleep through the entire thing?

Well, on this day you experience the exact opposite. Students are eager, smiling, even awake. They raise their hand when you ask for input and they actually laugh at your pathetic resume jokes (that you’ve managed to add just to keep yourself interested). You talk about clarity of format, keeping it to a page, customizing it for each position and you look around only to see heads nodding vigorously.

After the presentation you review the post event surveys. Students are giving you high marks across the board: they now understand resume basics, they feel they can apply these concepts to their own resumes, they even write comments about how great of a presenter you are.

That night, you check your e-mail and you have a very sweet request from one of the participants:  She notes that she learned a lot from the presentation but wants to come in tomorrow for a quick resume review just make sure everything is OK before she applies to a position. You reply “Sure!” thinking to yourself, “this should take only 15 minutes.”

Fast forward to tomorrow.  The student is seated in front of you.  As she reaches into her backpack to pull out her resume, your view switches to slow motion.  Suddenly, you catch a glimmer of light bouncing off of the object she’s taking out….


…what the

….is that

….is that a staple??  

So, obviously this is a HUGE exaggeration (cue sarcastic snickers), but what went wrong here? Didn’t you talk about page length? Weren’t you clear about editing out non-relevant content? Surely you touched on including pictures. How could it be that after all of your hard work and intuition the student just didn’t get the point?  What about all of your positive survey results? Could they have misled you?

Stay tuned for part 2 of The Mystery of the Resume Writing Assessment where I’ll discuss the post-event assessment.  In the meantime…any guesses, comments, or thoughts on why this approach doesn’t always work? Leave them in the comments section below!

6 thoughts on “The Assessment Diaries: The Mystery of the Resume Writing Assessment (Part 1)

  1. I’m looking forward to the follow up to this post, it was a really great read! I think many times students hear what they want to hear. While we think we’ve relayed the information clearly and in a concise manner, for some reason, all the main points don’t stick with them.
    Thankfully, in situations where they do follow up in a one-on-one setting, we have the opportunity to reiterate that information. Unfortunately, only a small amount of students follow up.

  2. We give them so much information during a presentation and things that we could recite in our sleep might be new information to them. Access to a handout with the information is helpful– if they read/use it. Follow up from the presentation is key. You can see what they understood, help them on the parts they didnt, and dig deeper into their experiences. Hope you have some hints on how we can get them to follow up!! Looking forward to part two!

  3. Pingback: The Assessment Diaries: The Mystery of the Resume Writing … | How to Write a Resume for a Job

  4. Resumes tend to be very personal for the owner. I’ve had students come for resume review and then act offended when I point out things that could be improved. They come to resume workshops and think, “Mine is great, I don’t have an of those issues!”

  5. This happens a lot! Do you have students that start off the one-on-one with, “I know this needs a lot of work, but…”? I feel like they are listening and learning within those presentations, but then do not take the time to go home and make the necessary changes immediately. Instead, they want the individual one-on-one time to make changes that are personal to their experiences.

  6. Pingback: The Assessment Diaries: The Mystery of the Resume Writing Assessment (Part 2) | The NACE Blog

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