With graduation always waiting to pop the college bubble, we have to start thinking about applying for jobs, internships, grad school, and other future endeavors. A resume is a tricky monster that takes careful planning and writing. It doesn’t have to be all bad! We at The Brief have come up with resume tips that will help this transition from college student to professional a little easier.
Here’s a list of resume tips for the “professional-to-be” (that’s you!):
1.) Format the Heck Out of It!
Resumes have to adapt to the job-seeker (you) and the job you’re going after, so just take a deep breath and focus on what’s going to make the biggest impact. This is where you have to practice thinking like the person hiring you, and imagine what they’d most like to see.
Traditionally, resumes started with a career objective, but unless you’re looking for something super specific, you might not be in a place where you can describe that. This is totally normal for a recent grad or a college student. When you’re in that position, start with something you do know like your skills and qualifications. After you make a list of those, you can move on to talking about things like your education and other work experience. It’s early in your career, and companies understand that.
When you’re writing your resume, you’re going to realize that there are gaping holes in it. That’s okay, really! You just have to be smart about it and make sure to format it in a way that highlights what you have done and downplays that parts that are missing. Don’t have any work experience? Make sure to list hobbies and interests instead.
2.) Make Your College Education Worth the Money
Most resumes continue on with a list of recent jobs and accomplishments, but the most important thing you’ve done with you time lately is your college education. This is where your investment should really pay off. The education part of your resume should highlight what your degree is in (or will be in), where you went to school, relevant coursework, and your GPA (if it’s something worth showing off).
Is your GPA worth noting? There’s lots of differing opinions out there about whether you should include this part or not, but anything about a 3.0 is worth considering as a bulletpoint – others say something over a 3.5 – it’s up to you.
Regardless of what you decide about your GPA, the education part of your resume should treat college experiences in the classroom, in student groups, and other student activities as if they are work experiences or accomplishments. It’s important to show how your studies have made an impact on molding you as a future professional.
3.) Leverage What You Have Done
Similar to writing about your education and accomplishments as a student, be sure to treat your work experiences (any of them) as if they relate to the job you’re applying for in your career field. There are aspects of being a bartender that are very important to any job – write about that. Although hiring managers would like directly related experiences, you’ve accomplished things that have shaped you as a potential employee and they want to know that.
Similarly, participation in volunteer projects shows a commitment to a cause and willingness to use your time and resources. Make sure to write about volunteer experiences as if they are a job and highlight the impact you had on the project. It’s important that your resume is a reflection of what you can do beyond turning in papers and getting good grades on tests.
Internships are like gold on a soon-to-be professional’s resume, and this is your opportunity to treat them as such. An internship implies an experience that looked and felt an awful lot like a real job, so when you’re describing it, be sure to focus on that. Sure, you probably did some menial tasks, but you were also hopefully a part of a larger project and team. This is where you talk about your contribution to the company, even if you were there for just a short time.
4.) Watch Your Language
When you’re talking about what you’ve done, make sure to use action verbs. There are tons of list out there to help you out, but it’s important that you carefully word each aspect of your resume to preserve real estate on the page. It’s all about making the person reading your resume believe that you are a capable candidate.
For each piece of “work” experience, you should attempt to show the reader your impact on it. It’s helpful to not just list the tasks you did, but to also come up with numbers or hard facts around your accomplishments. More than likely, the person reading your resume just wants to know what makes you different than the other person that has similar experiences. Show them you are a unique snowflake!
5.) Keep Changing
Perhaps this piece of advice should go without saying, but PLEASE have someone edit your resume and give you feedback. Preferably, the person working with you should have experience (good and bad) with job interviews and their own resumes. Your college might have resources to help you out, so be sure to ask your academic advisor about what’s available. Even without those resources, you and your other graduating pals should share your resumes with one another and give each other feedback (and support). This isn’t the easiest time in anyone’s college career, but you’ll get through it with a little help from your friends.
Whether you’re applying to your first job after graduation, or you’re trying to get an internship, these tips will hopefully help you create a resume that will get you noticed. What other pieces of advice do you have for resumes and getting noticed in the search for jobs?