For seniors everywhere (as well as anyone looking for some cash over the summer), the job hunt is about to begin. But before you even think of putting in an application or making some cold calls to your network, you’ll need a new resume to give out to potential employers. If you’re unsure where to start or how to update your resume before graduation day, here’s what you need to know.
Resumes will vary based on the job you are applying for. For example, an accountant’s resume will most likely be formatted differently from a teacher’s. And if you’re applying for a federal job, you’ll need a special one on top of that!
It’s best to know your industry’s standards by finding other successful resumes in your field. Your college will, most likely, have copies on hand for you to view from alumni. Another option is to use a downloadable template to help guide you through step-by-step.
What to Include
With your template or plan ready, it’s time to fill in the blanks. Start with your education since that’s the easiest part. You’ll want to list the year you started, your anticipated graduation date, your major, and then any academic awards or honors.
Then, move to what should make up the bulk of your resume — your professional experience. Do your best to list all the jobs you’ve held down, whether it be a fry cook at a fast-food restaurant or manning an information desk at a student office. This all counts and shows your responsibilities. However, you most likely want to avoid listing small jobs like the occasional babysitter or the time you worked as a part-time camp counselor for a week.
If you don’t have much in terms of experience, don’t fret! It’s not too late. Experience can also include volunteer activities (such as working at a food kitchen regularly or organizing a church event) and your extracurricular experiences that put you in the field. This includes internships, a working study abroad, or an activity that served a professional purpose (putting on a concert, working at a campus radio station, etc.). All of this can be done in your final semester if you’re willing to put in the work.
You can continue to “bulk” up your resume by adding skill sets, licenses and certificates, activities and honors, and any language you may speak fluently.
Rules of Thumb
Like we said, not all resumes are created equal, but there are a few things to consider in terms of a general resume:
- Your resume should either be a full page or two full pages. Avoid lots of white space or overcrowding. Do not go over two pages unless it’s a federal resume or a CV.
- Under each experience list three to five bullet description of your job written in past tense (unless you’re still working there). Keep this number consistent to each job.
- Have a friend proof-read it. Seriously. Even the best writers make mistakes!
- Speaking of friends, have another friend look at it for 15 seconds and ask what they remember. This is usually the most time your interviewer is going to consider your resume, so it is important to know what stands out and what doesn’t.
- Save your resume in several different formats. PDF is most common. And give it a name that is easy to identify such as “AlanSmithArchitectResume.”
- Don’t be too bold, but don’t be afraid to step outside the box. Your resume will most likely be printed out in black and white, so color doesn’t matter too much. And a strange format can throw off. What does impress is something clean cut and easy to read.
With your resume ready to impress, you’re ready to hit submit. Good luck, and happy job hunting!