5 Tips for a Standout Resume

Spring is approaching, which means that now is the time to start thinking about summer internships to get involved with. Internships provide you with a hands-on experience in a potential field of interest. And they provide you your first taste of applying for a position and working in a professional environment and atmosphere. But applying and putting yourself out there can be nerve racking. 

The first step is to create a demand for your skills and that all starts with your resume. Check out these tips to help you knock your resume out of the park and get you set up to score your first interview! 

1.     Key words in the job description are a road map 

Before you ever start writing and describing how great you are – you should start by reading over the job description and identifying what experiences, traits and skills you have that align with what the employer is most seeking. 

2.     Structure, structure, structure. 

Just like we like to emphasize the importance of structure when it comes to choosing and sorting livestock, the structure of your resume is very important. Having a structure that flows makes it easy for the employer to read through and get the information that they need. A popular and very basic structure is outlined below: 

–       Header: This includes your name, address, and contact information to reference. Pro Tip: You want to make your name big and bold so your header will stand out, but don’t focus too much on going over the top with colors, imagery, fonts and design work. Keep it simple. 

–       Objective: Use the objective space to outline the reason you are applying for the job/internship in the first place. This should only be about 1-2 sentences. 

–       Education: List your educational experiences in reverse chronological order from present to past. If you are a college student, the farthest you should date back is your high school education.  

–       Pro Tip: Keep the details minimal here – just including the name of the school, the degree you graduated with and potentially your GPA if desired. There will be other areas in the resume where you can describe your detailed involvement with your school and extracurricular activities. 

–       Work Experience: Here is your chance to pick your work experiences that make you the best fit for the position in which you are applying. Once again, list these work experiences in reverse chronological order from present to past and describe some of the responsibilities you had in that position in 3-5 bullet points.  

–       Pro Tip: Choose “action” or verb words that describe the work you did in the job. For example, choose words like: created, designed, drafted, developed, etc. These words help impress to the employer that you took individual actions in your role.  

–       Pro Tip 2: Keep work experiences relevant. If possible, try to select work experiences that line up with the internship or job in which you are applying for. For example, listing “dog walker” as a work experience is most likely not going to add much value to your repertoire if you are applying for a marketing position. 

–       Skills and Qualifications: Once again, take a look at the job description and identify the skills you have that align with what the employer is looking for.  

–       Pro Tip: If you can organize your skills into specific categories, it will make it an easier read for your potential employer. For example, try using categories like: Computer skills/technical skills, professional skills, communication skills, etc. 

–       Leadership/Extracurricular activities: Here is your chance to describe the experiences that have molded you into a leader. List out organizations you have been a part of, leadership positions you have held, etc. 

–       Awards and Activities: This should be a small section that highlights some of your greater accomplishments, academically or in other fields. In this category, try to keep it small and simple and focus on awards in activities that apply to the job or internship at hand. For example, don’t list world hot dog eating champion as an award for a baby-sitting job; it just doesn’t apply or add value. 

–       References: References are your best ally when applying for a job or internship. Pick 3-5 people outside of your family and friends who know you well enough and could serve as a reliable resource to help you land the job or internship. This could be a teacher, counselor, advisor, coach, past employer or anyone else that knows you well professionally.    

–       Pro Tip: Always ask before listing a reference and confirm his or her contact information and title before listing it on a resume.   

3.     Keep it concise 

The resume is just a warmup for the main show – the interview. You want to set up your resume in a way that gives the employer just enough information to be enticed to follow up with an interview to learn more. Keeping that in mind, it is important to keep your resume to 1-2 pages that share the most important and pertinent information about you as a young professional… not sharing your life story. 

4.   Get used to CHANGE. 

While your structure should stay the same each time, a resume for one job won’t work for all jobs. It is important that each time you apply for an internship or job, you update your resume, so it is not only current, but also matches up well with the job description for the role you are applying for. Go through the process each time of reading the job description and deciding what skills, experiences and qualifications you have that are most important for that new job. 

5.  Keep it clean  

When it comes to looking at the hiring pool – grammar and an error free resume helps you stand out. Start by keeping the look simple with a consistent format for each section of your resume and keeping fonts and sizes the same. Before you submit your resume, examine it thoroughly for grammatical errors and uniformity. It is always good to have a friend, teacher or mentor look it over before you hit send. A fresh set of eyes can catch something that you may have missed. You worked hard to create a killer resume. Don’t let a confusion between there, their and they’re leave you high and dry on employee selection day. 

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