A Simple Guide to Writing a Great Resume

resume writing tipsFilling out a simple application may have been enough to snag that part-time summer job at the ice cream store during high school. But now that you’re in college, it’s time to graduate to a more advanced job-finding tool: the professional resume.

Creating your first resume can seem daunting, especially since your professional experience may be limited. But the sooner you master this skill, the sooner you’ll have a document you can easily send out whenever you happen upon an internship or employment opportunity.

The Format

Stick to a traditional resume format, using a commonplace font such as Calibri or Arial. Save the crazy, hard-to-read fonts and wild colors for your art projects. Sure, you want your resume to stand out, but you want it to stand out for the information it contains, not its oddball appearance.

When starting out, don’t be intimidated. No one expects a student resume to contain long lists of accomplishments. Instead it should convey your interests, goals and potential — all within one page. Use short, declarative phrases and action verbs instead of full sentences and try to keep the tone positive and upbeat.

Resume Basics

Start by including your name, city of residence, email address and phone number — typically centered at the top. If you have a LinkedIn account, you can include that, but be sure to leave out any other personal social media accounts. This is a professional document, not a showcase of your social connections.

Include a summary statement outlining your goals. Perhaps you’re an art major looking for a chance to develop your graphic design skills, a computer science major interested in work as a programmer, or a marketing major seeking a chance to work on marketing campaigns. The key here is to demonstrate you already have some knowledge in a given field and are looking to expand it by gaining practical experience.

Your Qualifications

After working through the basics, it’s time to really sell yourself by highlighting your skills, background, and accomplishments.  Start by adding an education section. Make the entries reverse-chronological, beginning with your current studies. Be sure to include your degree objective and your planned date of graduation.

After education, add a professional experience section. This is the place to list any jobs you’ve had, even if they were babysitting or summer jobs. Include the beginning and ending dates and briefly list your main responsibilities. The idea is to demonstrate that you’re responsible, conscientious and can follow directions.

Including an accomplishments section can help paint a fuller picture of who you are. This is the place to note any awards or distinctions you have received. You can also include any high grade point averages, projects you completed at school or volunteer experiences. Basically, list things here you’re proud of or which would reveal aspects of your character to a potential employer.

You may also include a skills section if you think it’s warranted. This is the place to list any computer software proficiencies you’ve used or office skills you’ve developed. Make sure the skills you list relate to the types of positions you’re seeking. For example, forklift driving would not be a useful skill for a sales position — unless you’re applying for a position selling forklifts.

Edit, Edit, Edit

Finally, take time to edit and format your resume. A resume filled with typos and formatting errors does little to convey that you’re careful and conscientious. Have a friend or your parent proofread your resume to make sure you didn’t miss any typos and to get their opinion.

View your resume as a work in progress. It will remain an important professional tool throughout your work life, evolving and growing as you graduate college, get your first full-time job, and progress in your career.

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