It’s that time of year again: the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and you’re sitting at your computer, furiously preparing those applications for summer jobs and internships.
Job applications themselves tend to be straightforward. More often than not, the trouble arises when it comes time to talk about yourself in a formal way. That’s right: statistics show that resumes (and their partners-in-crime, cover letters) pose a challenge for 75% of the population.*
*Note: all statistics in this blog post are made up by the author.
So how do you overcome this? How do you present yourself in a way that will have companies begging you to work for them? Take a look at the tips below.
In any resume, you want to answer three main questions:
1. What have you done?
2. What are you doing?
3. What do you want to do? (This one is sometimes optional.)
To answer the first and second questions, you will want to list your educational qualifications as well as past jobs and volunteer positions you’ve held. You also want to describe your duties in these positions, in such a way that the qualities you’ve developed at these jobs shine through and say to your employer, “Hey, look at what I learned! I can bring this skill to your organization!”
Resumes often contain an “objective statement” to answer the third question. This is a one-sentence statement about your goal for employment. It should express to your potential employer what you aim to accomplish in applying for this job. For example,
• Summer Camp Counselor: “To facilitate friendships and a love of learning in a stimulating camp environment.”
• Arts Administration: “Position with community-based arts organization involving public relations, marketing, and promoting performances and exhibits.”
• Computer Programming: “Programmer or systems analyst position using quantitative and mathematical training, with special interest in marketing and financial applications.”
As a wise former writing tutor once said, “Your objective is like the thesis statement of your resume.” So make it clear and make it stand out to your potential employer!
Resumes need to be beautiful (but sort of in the way that contemporary industrial architecture is beautiful).
Use the space in your resume, and use it wisely. Align similar information (such as dates of employment) along the same margin throughout the resume. Feel free to italicize, bold, and/or underline text to make it stand out. Lines can be used to separate different headings and categories. Don’t use templates, but do get ideas from other resumes on the web.
So you’re applying for a tech support job, but the only club you’re in is McDaniel’s Puppy Club—not exactly the most relevant extracurricular activity.
However, this information can still be useful. If your resume has an area for activities, feel free to include those that demonstrate leadership. While you won’t be training a service dog in IT, most extracurricular activities show that you are a person who goes out of their way to do more than they’re required to do. They also give insight into your interests.
Are you wondering what else you should include? Executive positions in particular signal experience working with others and managing different aspects of an organization. Certifications, such as in CPR/First Aid or various software, also tend to help a resume. In any case, stick with listing specific activities and certifications—don’t just list generic traits like “dependable.”
The Last Piece of Advice
So you think you’ve got a good draft of a resume, but you’re hesitant in sending it off to an employer? Luckily there are a few extra resources for you to use on campus: The C.E.O. and The Writing Center!
The Center for Experience and Opportunity, located in the lower level of Rouzer, helps students with all aspects of career preparation (including resume writing)! They are the perfect people to look over your resume in conjunction with the Writing Center. Writing Center tutors who have experience writing their own resumes are available to look over YOUR resume as well. A second (or third, or fourth) pair of eyes looking over your resume, from professional and peer perspectives, can’t hurt! So go out there, type up a fierce resume, and get that job!
-Sarah, Peer Tutor