By: Morgan Vazquez
NSHSS Fellows Program, Vice President of Special Events
We all know the job market is tough, but mistakes on a resume can make it even more difficult to land an internship or a full-time job. A resume is the professional reflection of individuals who are applying or looking for employment, and therefore, your resume must be well written if you want to increase your chances of landing an interview. Think of a resume as your #1 marketing tool, because it really is the first chance you have to sell yourself to an employer. Here are five tips to help make your resume shine:
1. Stress Your Accomplishments: For each internship or job, include a one or two line general description of your role and then list your accomplishments. Instead of writing about generic tasks and responsibilities, document how your skills/abilities helped to achieve something measurable, such as increased sales or improved customer satisfaction scores. By providing key accomplishments and highlighting what you did in your job, you will inform potential employers why they should hire YOU instead of another candidate. Recruiters want to know how your individual contributions benefited the company, so whenever possible, use statistics or numbers to enhance the description of what you did (i.e. led training course for 50 managers or monitored transactions for 300 customers). Additionally, include your most noteworthy accomplishments rather than every detail of every project and use “action” words (i.e. developed, managed, analyzed, published, etc.) to concisely convey what you achieved. Your resume is your opportunity to highlight any outstanding or unusual work you did at school or a previous internship that might entice the employer to invite you in for an interview.
2. Stick With the “Here and Now”: Ensure your resume emphasizes your most recent accomplishments and responsibilities as opposed to those that happened in the distant past. For example, if you’re a college senior looking for a full-time job, your resume should not include any information on things you achieved as a high school freshman. Quite frankly, employers aren’t going to be impressed that a twenty-two year old college graduate was a member of the National Honor Society in 11th grade. Always be selective with the information you share on a resume and include details on relevant experiences that matter today. It’s better to have some empty space on the page rather than an entire page of extraneous, outdated information.
3. Emphasize Academic Qualifications: As a college student or recent college grad, your education and academic coursework will be your biggest seller on your resume. As Susan Campbell, professional resume writer and owner of ResumeBuilding.com states, “Without experience in the target field, education is often the most valuable information a student has to offer.” Especially, if you lack experience in your field, make the education section of your resume as substantial as possible by including details like your GPA, relevant coursework and special awards/honors.
4. Individually Tailor Your Resume: Target an employer’s needs and tailor your resume to fit the role/responsibilities listed in a job description. Oftentimes, people create one standard resume and then send it out to numerous job openings even if each job is looking for a different type of candidate. Instead, focus on what an employer says they’re looking for and make sure to address that item first on your resume. Use specific keywords and phrases posted in the job listing – I suggest reviewing the job description 2-3 times before editing your resume so you are aware of what skills/qualifications you should highlight. Also, you can take the experiences and credentials that are most relevant and include them in a “career summary” at the top of your resume. Although it takes time to write a targeted resume, it’s definitely worth the effort.
5. Proofread, Proofread, Proofread: One typo can land your resume in the garbage, so read your resume aloud to yourself to catch mistakes and grammatical issues, and then show it to a few friends before submitting it to a prospective employer. We usually become blind to our own mistakes or way of thought, so other people will be in a better position to evaluate your resume and make appropriate suggestions. This document is a reflection of you and there is no reason why there should be any typos. You will not get a second chance to create a good impression if you send out a resume that includes errors. Always remember that you only have a few moments to convince an employer that your resume deserves further attention, so stick to this advice and you’ll be on your way to success in no time!