Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Responsibilities and Accomplishments in the Resume (Part 2)

This is a follow-up to an earlier posting I wrote titled Mixing Responsibilities and Accomplishments in the Resume.  In that posting I discussed how to make a clear distinction between responsibilities and accomplishments in the resume.  In this posting I'd like to mention why this is important, and why accomplishments are a better use of your resume real estate than responsibilities.

(this entire entry is cross-posted in my "main" blog which can be found here)

ABC Corporation                           Toronto, Canada
Director, Sales Department            4/2011 - present
- manage team of 8
- write annual sales plan for product line of entire company and aim to beat forecasts
- work closely with regional sales reps across North America and Europe
- responsible for making pricing strategies

What do we have as bullet point content here? Essentially, a lot of detail on what you would expect a Director of the Sales Department to have to manage.  In fact, if you were looking for a generic description of the prototypical Director of Sales, then here it is. This is good and fine, as it is clear and to the point and obviously this person is responsible to no small degree for the bottom line of the company based on whether or not she is been successful at her work.

The problem is this: has this person been successful? Is it possible for you, given the information provided, to assess how well she has done her job? The answer is no, and this can be very frustrating to the evaluator of a resume, who aims to understand how well the job has been done - not just what the job entails.  They want to evaluate your performance, but they cannot without understanding not only what you were supposed to do, but what you actually did. The key then is to convert a lot of bullet points to accomplishments.

ABC Corporation                           Toronto, Canada
Director, Sales Department            4/2011 - present
- Selected, based on accomplishment, to manage team of 8 selling the entire product line worldwide
- Developed annual sales plan for entire company product line and beat sales projections by 20% in FY2012
- Worked closely with regional sales reps across North America and Europe to increase sales in key markets (increased sales in North America by 15%) and develop new markets (created new business worth US$1M/year in France)
- Created new pricing strategies that allowed for penetration of key young adult demographic in the US

This, above, shows accomplishments. It is not written well (yet), but at the very least offers more information - namely the results of this person's efforts and hard work.  More can be done to highlight these accomplishments. For instance, this could be changed:

- Worked closely with regional sales reps across North America and Europe to increase sales in key markets (increased sales in North America by 15%) and develop new markets (created new business worth US$1M/year in France)

to something that emphasizes the result, and then adds detail about the work that was done:

- Created new business worth US$1M/year in France by establishing new business framework with Paris-based sales reps
- Increased sales in key North America market by 15% by introducing new channel segmentation that focused on shelf space in large retail chains

.. and so on.  The point here is that in a resume your responsibilities don't do a lot of talking - it's what you could actually accomplish that shows the true impact you had on your organization. (note: you can also add the "responsibility line" directly underneath the title, as I demonstrated here)

If your resume looks like example one at the top of this post, start working in your accomplishments, so that the reader of your resume can better evaluate how well you've done the work expected of you. 

John Couke

Friday, September 21, 2012

Brainstorming Contents for the Additional Section of the Resume

(This is a modified version of an article aimed at MBA applicants that I posted at my main blog on MBA, LLM and GRAD school admissions which you can find here. I feel strongly that vibrant and colorful additional section content is vital for any resume - and by reading this post you can get some ideas as to what you may consider including, as well as some criteria to consider when struggling to choose just the best ideas.)

I live in Japan, where in some cases people place a stronger emphasis on their career and the company they work for, at the expense of developing strong extra-curricular activities. The work-life balance suffers as a result, and when it comes to the MBA application process, often this means a lot of people with great professional activities, but not a lot to show for outside of work.  This can be a disadvantage. Why?

One reason is that this is an effective way to tell a little bit about what you value or find important. After all, if you didn't like the activity or feel you could benefit from it in some way, you wouldn't do it. So your choices here say something about you.

Another reason is that your job, colleagues, clients, responsibilities and accomplishments gained at work won't come with you to b-school.  You'll instead go yourself. And who is this person? Well, once you strip away the career, and everything related to it, what is left over? That is you - at least the non-professional you - and this should be defined at least in some way in your MBA applications.

The final thing to keep in mind is that an imbalanced application - full of work stuff but offering no insight beyond work - can leave you at a serious disadvantage.  No matter how successful you have been, someone else also applying may have achieved the same pinnacle of success, but with interesting extra-curricular activities. This doesn't mean you shouldn't apply - it might not even be true - but it should motivate you to at least consider what activities you can mention. 

From my experience, the longer a laundry list of extra-curricular examples you dangle in front of someone, the better the chances they will realize that something they do outside of work is worthy of inclusion in the additional section of their resume, or in an application essay.  So, let's start by making that list, and then we can come up with some parameters for evaluating each possible item in order to choose only the strongest and most interesting contents.

The List

1. Volunteer Work

This is ideal if you have such experience.  Two varieties to consider when brainstorming:

a) standard, roll-up-the-sleeves volunteer work
b) volunteer work done through your company

I am mentioning point b) here because many people just consider it work.  But if you have done volunteer work that was organized by your company, it is still volunteer work! So it can be listed.

Note: it is best to avoid listing experiences where all you are doing is contributing money.  

2. Sports

a) team sports can show teamwork

Teamwork is a valuable skill that you will utilize repeatedly in your MBA program.  This is the value in emphasizing your participation in a weekly pick-up basketball game each weekend. Soccer, futsal, baseball - participation in any of these things shows - or at least hints - at the presence of someone who works well in a team. Take the activity to another level if you can - maybe you started-up these pick-up games, and now a lot of people attend regularly, or maybe you are the captain.

b) individual sports or athletic exercise are ok too (like running)

Devotion to a higher goal can also make for an appealing story, even if you are the only one involved. If you run regularly to train for marathons or triathlons, this can be emphasized too.  If applicable, list off the marathons you finished - whether you were in first or last doesn't matter. 

3. Music

If you take clarinet lessons at a school, put it in your resume.  It may not show an accomplishment (although if you have ever performed in front of an audience then you've got one) but it does show an interest that could become an interesting talking point (Why did you decide to start to do this? What is it that you like about playing this instrument?)

4. Cultural Activities

There are numerous examples of things that can count as "cultural activities". The obvious ones include holding black belts in judo or karate, or studying tea ceremony or flower arrangement. Many people here in Japan have such experiences, but don't immediately think of them when putting together their resume.  hence the value of carefully taking stock of your experiences as you draft your resume. These experience can add color to your resume, and so can be included.  

Beyond the few example listed above, there are many other things that can count as cultural activities, such as helping out in your local community summer matsuri (festival). What seems like normal life to you may be interesting or unique to others.

5. International Experience

This can be broken into two sections: living abroad, and traveling abroad.

a) Living abroad. If you have lived abroad, this is worth mentioning in the additional section of the resume. Unless of course it is because of your own working experience or university / post-university educational experience, and then in that case you do not need to mention it in the additional section because it will be in the professional experience or education section.

Note however that those with such overseas experience may have also afforded themselves the time to get involved in extra-curricular or extra-employment activities, and those from working experience can go in the additional section if there is little else to put there. I usually recommend people to include extra-curricular activities earned at school to include them in the same section of the education section that describes those experiences.  

b) Traveling abroad. This can work if it involved some degree of time, like studying English in Australia for two months at an English school. In this case you would not put it ion the education section (because you did not earn a degree from the studies) but you can certainly list it in the additional section. This can also work if you have been to a lot of places.  I've met people that have traveled through 30-40 countries, which is more than most. This kind of experience certainly shows dedication to international travel directly, and may also show some degree of cultural awareness, at least indirectly.

6. Memberships in Associations or Organizations

Especially good if you actually contribute something towards their organizations.  Nonetheless, make a list and when necessary or not entirely understandable, describe the nature of the organization or association to which you belong.

7. Certifications

This is for those who hold some kind of engineering or securities license, or the ability to sell real estate, or something else which allows you to do something.  

8. Academic Publications, Patents, and Presentations

The first word here demonstrates pretty clearly what you're demonstrating: academic experience and ability. This is less important for an MBA application than you may think (separate tests are administered to test these things, and besides you've also got a neat and tidy GPA to summarize all 4 years) but if the content is impressive and (importunely) something you are passionate about talking about, then it may be worthy for inclusion - especially if you have little else to draw upon.

9. Awards

If you have won anything, put it in. Be clear about what you won, when you won it, and the selection criteria.  

10. Fluency in a Third or Fourth Language

This is especially true if the application doesn't ask (though honestly most typically do).  It's not necessary to note in an MBA resume that you speak English, or your native Japanese.  But if you've got a third language ability there that is more than just conversational, and the application doesn't call for this detail, consider it as additional section content.

11. Hobbies

I have intentionally placed this low on the list. For many, their "hobbies" will have already appeared above, as in sports or music.  But beyond this, don't underestimate the value of exploring deeply your hobbies.  Maybe you took a ceramics class with your wife recently - and made stuff you use in your home.  Maybe you then took another lesson, and made more stuff.  This isn't ideal content - but for those with no content, it is content. So keep going to ceramics class, and put it on your resume.

12. Academic Interests

Be careful here, because writing about "reading books" is far from ideal. But, if in your spare time, you have become something of an expert in 14th century Japanese history, then this could be worthy of inclusion, especially if you can discuss the topic coherently and having something worthwhile to say. If, on the other hand, this interest has made you active in some type of group where people gather to study such things, I'd think it better for you to mention membership in this group instead, as that demonstrates more practice building people skills than reading can.

13. Sponsorship (perhaps only applicable to MBA/LLM/grad school applicants)

If you have nothing to put in your additional section, and are company-sponsored for your MBA, then this can go in the additional section. I usually recommend it be placed elsewhere, but it is certainly flexible enough in nature to go here too.

Qualifiers for Determining Which Items are Best

Now that you have been able to come up with a long list of possible items, you'll probably recognize pretty quickly that some items have more potential than others. How to ultimately choose? Put each idea you generated to the test using the following 5 criteria. 

a) Is it interesting? This is pretty straight forward I think. Can it be used to add color to an interview? If so great. 

b) Is it active or passive? Doing something is always going to be better than getting something, all other things being equal.  Volunteering time to accomplish something looks better than receiving recognition for donating money, for instance.

c) How committed are you to the activity? It should be something you have devoted time to.  One game of basketball isn't enough to merit inclusion in your resume.  However, if you have played twice per month for 1 year, then it is enough to put in the resume. Along the same lines, a dedicated interest in some activity that started yesterday might not seem very convincing either.

d) How recent is it? Taking saxophone lessons in 2009 will always be better than a local soccer participation award earned in 1994. The former is simply more telling about who you are today - while the latter is describing someone who has changed a lot since that time. Generally speaking, activities from high school and earlier should not be included in the resume for business school if at all possible.  (note: unless you are really young, but even so it had better be a major activity)

e) (for Japanese applicants to b-school in particular!)  International experience. If choosing between two extra-curricular activities, one that has something to do with interacting with foreign cultures might be best. So if you are stuck between describing your love of local onsens, which you've been to 6 times, and your love of climbing mountains in Nepal, which you've also done 6 times, I might recommend the Nepal experience.  Not only is it more international, but it is also more significant, and might also show you in an "active", rather than "passive" way as well. 

When in doubt, or when brainstorming, you should include everything. Later on you can cut out the things that aren't as good when trimming your resume down to one page.

John Couke

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Able to Work Independently or With Others

The danger with trying to write a summary of skills as a component of a resume is that it is easy to get general and as a result shed meaning pretty quickly. One great example of this is the content-devoid title of this posting. 

The fact that someone is able to work independently or with others isn't a fact at all - it is a capability most of us possess. So clearly this is not something you want in your resume - no matter what kinds of sections you come up with to describe yourself.

The alternative?  Try this:

1. Figure out if the job you are applying for needs someone with experience working on their own, or if emphasis might be placed on working in teams (and if so, does this mean leading teams, or contributing something specific to teams?).  

2. List off those accomplishments that are related to the skill you are trying to show (note: they should already be in your resume).  

3. Write a cover letter, and in that cover letter, expound on your ability to lead teams, contribute to teams, or work on your own, and refer to one or two specific experiences illustrated in the resume that will demonstrate this.

If you don't like this approach, and are determined to keep "work independently or with others" in a  list of skills, then consider rewriting the point in a clearer and more specific way that offers more meaning. Here are some starter examples:

- led teams to exceed expectations on 6 separate occasions 
- have experienced managing cross-functional/international/virtual teams
- independently completed 4 different projects reassessing (content)

Of course, what is missing from these points above are the specifics from your own experience.  

John Couke

Monday, August 13, 2012

Proficient in Microsoft Word, Excel and using the Internet

Is this line necessary, or even useful in the additional section of your resume?  The short answer, in virtually all cases, is no.  While all of these may be desirable skills, they are not differentiated or unique ones, and so they have no place in the modern resume.

What's more, the line is so vague that it loses all meaning entirely.  "Proficient in using the internet".  What exactly does that mean?  Typing a phrase into Google, or designing elaborate web sites?

The same goes for Word and Excel - can you type, or do you have experience in programming elaborate macros that allow your worksheets to do things out of the ordinary?  If the latter, the detail will probably be present in accomplishments or projects elsewhere in the resume.  If the former - then just cut the line entirely.

John Couke

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Additional Section Contents and Criteria for Choosing Them

Beyond the professional experience and education sections, all resumes should have an additional section that sheds some light on the personality, interests, and extra-curricular accomplishments of the owner of the resume.

What can go in an additional section?  A lot. So much so that often the hardest thing to do is figure out what stays, and what goes. Let's start by listing some typical examples of additional section content, and then we'll focus on how to choose from amongst the resulting examples.

1) Involvement in sports

This is often a good choice, as such activity can show teamwork or leadership skill.

2) Music

Playing a musical instrument can be a good talking point in an interview, and this interest can also show creativity, or sometimes leadership or team skills as well.

3) Other Hobbies and Interests

Here it really depends on what you do, and the specific purpose of your resume.  Colorful additional section contents can include taking flower arrangement or karate lessons, for instance.

4) Anything you are learning.

As shown above, interests can be shown effectively if you study them! Being a member of a music school or flower arrangement class makes for interesting additional section content, and it certainly helps the resume reader understand what you do with your free time. Language are okay, as long as they add value to the position you are applying for. So think carefully before just blindly adding in 4 languages of which you only know a few words.

5) Volunteer work

This can go from volunteering for an NPO to volunteer teaching ice skating to local kids.  Volunteer work is considered by many to be strong on the resume because it demonstrates community engagement.  Don't list examples of how you donate money though - examples of actual activities that you put effort into are always better.

6) Publications

Non-professional, non-academic publications can go here. As can, for that matter, presentations or patents you hold that don't fit neatly into either the professional experience or education section.

7) Memberships in Interesting Organizations

If you are a member of the Book-of-theMonth discussion club in your town, this can certainly be considered for inclusion. As can membership in an association that promotes entrepreneurship or 

8) Awards you have won or recognition you have earned.

If, for any activity, you could win something or be recognized in a special way, then you may wish to consider including it in the resume.  

9) Anything else that may be relevant to the person who will be reading your resume.

If they are looking for "international experience" then aim to highlight content relevant to that.  If you started a business as a university student, put it in, especially if you are aiming to emphasize your initiative or entrepreneurial skill.

10) Other Skills

The key here is to be selective and strategic.  The days where someone would be impressed to see that you can use Microsoft Word are long, long gone.  So you should not include such basic skill in your resume.  But you may consider noting if you have a certain academic qualification, or a professional designation that doesn't fit neatly into another section of your resume. Computer programming? Maybe - if it is relevant to the job you are applying for. Again: be selective and strategic.

Hopefully, after reviewing each of these categories (and possibly thinking up others) you have determined 7-8 solid bullet points for the additional section of your resume.  That is good, but it is also of course too much! Depending on what you have done with the other sections, you should have 3-5 lines left over for the additional section.  This means you have to be selective, and choose only the most interesting, attention-grabbing elements that say a lot about you. How to choose what makes it into this section and what doesn't?  I'd recommend considering the following three simple criteria:

1) Does the activity demonstrate a significant time commitment?

In other words, have you done it for a long time or a long amount of time? If you played basketball once that would not be "resume-worthy" because it doesn't say anything about you. If on the other hand you established a golf competition that has been active for 5 years, or if you have been a member of the same community basketball teams for 1.5 years, and play every weekend, these would be activities worth keeping.

2) Is it recent?

Don't give examples from junior high school, because they don't really say much about who you are know (unless you are, in fact, a junior high school student). Instead, emphasize more recent activities in the additional section of the resume. Doing so will help the reader feel like they are getting to know who you are NOW.

3) Is it impressive? 

This last criteria is at the same time the easiest and most difficult to assess.  

Easy: is it memorable and interesting?  6 hours of volunteer work per weekend says a lot about who you are and what you are dedicated to - to me that would be memorable.  I'd choose that over membership in a pickup hockey team, if space was an issue and you had to make the choice. 

Hard: it may be difficult for you to be objective and assess your own activities.  If so, fair enough - get someone to advise you!

John Couke

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Chronological vs Skill-Based Resumes

This post originally appeared in my MBA/LLM/grad school admissions blog, that is focused on providing advice for people applying to schools.

Choosing between a chronological and a skill-based layout is necessary when designing the layout of your resume. Both have merits, although a chronologically organized resume will clearly be superior for most. This post defines each resume style, and then lists reasons why the chronological resume is preferable.

1) The Difference Between Chronological and Skill-Based Resumes

Chronological Resumes:

A chronological resume will list contents within the academic and professional experiences sections in the order they occurred. Most resumes are reverse chronological, i.e. the most recent position (or degree) is on the top of the section.  Like this:

Company A, Barcelona Spain
Senior Strategic Consultant 4/2011 - present
Company B, New York, USA
Marketing Project Manager 4/2009 - 9/2010
Business Consultant 4/2006 - 3/2009
Company C, New York, USA
Business Consultant 4/2004 - 3/2006
Marketing Manager 4/2002 - 3/2004
Administration Manager 4/2001 - 3/2002

University XYZ, Masters 3/2001
University XYZ, Bachelors 3/1999

All jobs are listed, right back until the university career was completed. One concern with a chronological resume is that gaps in experience become readily noticeable, like the one above from 10/2010 to 3/2011.  This is not necessarily a problem as long as the additional section of the resume explains what they were doing during that time.

Gained intermediate-level certification in Spanish language from ABC school in Barcelona (10/2010 to 1/2011)

Any additional question marks (why learn Spanish?) would be covered by the nature of the responsibilities or accomplishments in the Senior Marketing Consultant position that started in 4/2011, or if not then in a statement included as part of the job/school application. In this rough simulation above, the gap makes sense, as it appears this person chose to study Spanish prior to starting their current position, where it would presumably be useful.

Skill-Based Resumes:

A skill-based resume groups working experience by the nature of the work, rather than in a chronological way. Here is the same example as above, but reorganized into a skill-based format (with the academic and additional sections deleted for the purpose of the example).

Strategic Consulting Experience:
Company A, Barcelona Spain
Senior Strategic Consultant 4/2011 - present
Company B, New York, USA
Business Consultant 4/2006 - 3/2009
Company C, New York, USA
Business Consultant 4/2004 - 3/2006

Marketing Experience:
Company B, New York, USA
Marketing Project Manager 4/2009 - 9/2010
Company C, New York, USA
Marketing Manager 4/2002 - 3/2004

Other Experience:
Company C, New York, USA
Administration Manager 4/2001 - 3/2002

In this case, the line items are unchanged, but their order is changed.  The idea here is to highlight a certain strain of working experience that is particularly useful for the position being applied for.  In this case, one might assume the person is aiming for a role related to Strategic Consulting. The gap in experience is de-emphasized, as are any switches between functions, because the jobs are not listed in a chronological order. In a skill-based resume, the person may or may not choose to list the dates next to each position. Instead, the focus is on the experience gained within each area.  

2) Why is a Chronological Resume Preferable?

A) It's clear and complete.

Reader often scan the dates to see if gaps exist. I think it's a natural reaction to a resume, I have certainly done this for the hundreds (thousands?) of resumes I have scanned in my career. The first test of a resume is that it is complete, and documents your background and progress. It does not need to include everything - but at the least you should aim to account for all of your time. There is no problem with having a gap between jobs, or between experiences - as long as it is explained somewhere in the resume.  Note as well that if Job A finished on May 11, 2006, and Job B began on June 27, 2006, I would not consider this a gap at all:

Job B 6/2006 - x/200x
Job A x/200x - 5/2006

There is no gap here that the resume needs to address.

A skill-based resume is often chosen when there is a break in the working experience, or a period of time that is difficult to explain or wholly irrelevant to the position you are applying for.  The problem here is that the reader of the resume is most likely aware of this strategy. So, in essence, it backfires, as the skill-based resume may cause the reader to attempt to find a problem, solely because of the choice of the format in which it was written. If a recruiter, employer, or school admissions officer is only going to give your resume 1-3 minutes anyways, it would be advisable that this time is spent admiring accomplishments, not hunting for disasters. This is the case whether your resume ultimately has chronological gaps or not. 

B) It better shows career progress.

The younger you are, the more important this is.  In any case, most people's career arcs upward in responsibility and accomplishment, and you should use a chronological resume to highlight your own arc as best as possible. By breaking up your experience in other ways, the overall impact of the growth of your responsibility is harder to see. If your resume is chronological, but you worry that the progression of your career is hard to see, than you may not be emphasizing the right responsibilities or accomplishments in your career descriptions and bullet points.

C) The skills can be summarized effectively elsewhere.

Rarely is a resume meant to speak for itself. Rather it is an introduction, and comes along with an essay (school application) or cover letter (job application). The essay or cover letter is a better place to note that you have "over 8 years of experience in strategic consulting". Such headlines are rarely effective on a resume. So, instead of making a skill-based resume, consider a chronological one and be sure to include a cover letter or description in the essay as to what choices you have made, what skills you have gained, and how they are important to the job you are applying for, or the program you want to enter and future goals you aim to achieve.

Have you thought about the contents of your resume today?

John Couke

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Tips on Organizing a Strong Resume

This post originally appeared in my MBA/LLM/grad school admissions blog, that is focused on providing advice for people applying to schools.

One point worth keeping in mind about your resume is the amount of time the reader will spend on the document - typically 1-3 minutes. Given this, layout and readability are both extremely important. A good resume starts in the presentation: how the document is organized and designed, as well as the content you choose to include, and how that is presented. Here are a few things to consider when judging the effectiveness of your own resume.

1. The document must be easy to look at.  For example, if the font is too small, the margins are tiny, and everything is crammed together, your reader will get a bad first impression.  This is especially important because the person reading your resume will likely only give it a minute or two, in total.  So it is vitally important to avoid having a bad impression.  Here is a small checklist to keep in mind:

a) Use a typical font, such as Times New Roman 10.5 or 11.
b) Use margins of between 10mm to 15mm all the way around, for instance using 10mm for the top and bottom, and then 15mm for the left and right sides. This will ensure your document has some white space in the margins and is centered properly on the page.
c) Ensure the paper setting is correct: for documents going to the US or Canada, use "letter-sized", and for outside the US, use "A4". Here is a page on betweenborders.com that explains the difference.  Even though many schools these days have computerized their application reading process, it is still worthwhile to be aware of the difference. 
d) Decide on line settings that will make your bullet points readable, and avoid crunching lines together in order to fit too much onto one page.  If you are using Microsoft Word, under "home" go to "line spacing options". Set it at "exactly" and at a setting between 12pt, 13pt or 14pt.  In addition, after each bullet point have a small margin, in order to ensure each bullet is separated nicely.  Experiment with these settings until you have arrived at the setting that makes your resume look best: not too packed together, and with a small bit of space between each bullet point.

2. Keep it to 1 page (see my previous post on why this is best) by selecting what to focus on rather than including everything you've ever done! When deciding, ask yourself what skills you possess that are most relevant to your future - either skills that demonstrate your ability to succeed at graduate school, or skills that are relevant to your future goals. What skills that you possess will an admissions officer or future employer value? Highlight your relevant skills in the bullet points of your resume. 

3. Avoid too much personal information (marital status, age, number of children, height, weight etc) unless requested. Such information can be distracting because it is not what your reader will be expecting when they review your document - so be sure to manage their expectations effectively.

4. Avoid long lists of adjectives like "dedicated team player" and other such fluff. These are not valuable additions to a resume, and are better included elsewhere. For instance for a job applicant, your personal description of characteristics relevant to the job to which you are applying could be in the cover letter.  And for grad school applicants, such concepts are hopefully to be found in your recommendation letters.

5. Include a short list of personal activities in the additional section. In terms of what to choose, this is the criteria I consider: 

a) The activity should demonstrate something appealing about you.
b) You can show a strong time commitment to the activity.
c) The content should be recent.
d) The content is strategic.  

If the activity fits all three criteria, then certainly include it.  For instance if you have been a starting member of a community basketball team for the past 1.5 years and you play twice a month, this is worthy of inclusion. You can highlight team and/or leadership experience, and also you have shown dedication to the activity.  It is easy to see how an activity that does not meet all three criteria would not be worth including: a 2-hour volunteer experience in 1994 that was never repeated is probably not worth fitting on your page, especially if you have more recent and significant experiences.

In terms of point d), some activities people do regularly are just not worth including in the resume, even if they fit a) b) and c). Many people read hundreds of books, or watch hundreds of movies, for instance.  However interesting such activities are, they should not typically be included in your resume, because they don't say anything interesting about you.

6. Make sure each individual bullet point, no matter what section it is in, is clear, impressive and impactful.

7. Have someone whose opinion you trust read your resume and give you feedback on it. It can be difficult to assess the effectiveness of your own work.

Steps 2, 6, and 7 will likely require assistance, so do consult with a professional to ensure your resume is working as effectively as possible. Finally, be sure to read carefully the instructions provided by the school you are applying to, or the recruiter or company to whom you will send your resume.  There may be additional instructions, including the number of lines to use, or other sections that may be requested such as international experience or situation-specific information.  Show that you may taken the time to understand their specifications and reflect them the version of your resume you send to them.

John Couke