Resume Tips: Six ways to make your resumé sparkle in 2009

by

If updating and perfecting your resumé isn’t one of your New Year’s resolutions – make it one. You still have about a week until you get busy at school again. Now is a great time to make your resumé sparkle!

The resumé is a constant point of discussion here at TalentEgg. Many students and new grads don’t have the work experience required to fill up a resumé. Some have so much work experience they could fill multiple pages, but it often has nothing to do with the job they’re applying for.

Lauren started Talent Cards to be used by students and new grads on TalentEgg because resumés are not the ideal way to show off your potential. Talent Cards encourage you to showcase your top experiences to employers and sell yourself by explaining them in detail.

But the reality is that most employers still require you to submit a resumé when you apply for a job. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t show off your potential in your resumé. Not all employers want the same thing from a resumé, but here are some general tips I’ve picked up.

Keep it to one page. Your resumé should be short, easy-to-read and packed with information. Each word should be carefully chosen to showcase your experience and abilities. You don’t have to include everything you’ve ever done, just the stuff that’s relevant to the job you’re applying for. Don’t make it easy for employers to skip over you because the first page of your resumé doesn’t include everything they need.

  • As a student or recent grad, your skills, education, experience, and contact information should fit nicely onto one page. If you’re having trouble cutting it down, get friends or family to look it over and suggest areas that still need tightening. Also, try making the page margins and font size a bit smaller.

Create a different resumé for each role you apply for. You don’t need to start from scratch each time, but you should tailor your experience and skills to match important keywords in the job description each time you apply. Scrap any unrelated details.

  • It’s a good idea to maintain different “skeleton” resumés for each industry or sector you would like to work in. Add in specifics and change around words as needed.

Be specific about your achievements. To avoid just listing your former responsibilities and duties, be specific about the results you achieved. For each point you add, ask yourself questions such as: How many times did I do this? How often? By how much did the company’s bottom line increase? How many clients did I interact with? How many co-workers were in the group I led? Figures like these are an easy way to help employers decide if you meet or exceed their expectations.

  • Show, don’t tell. Let employers draw their own conclusions based on your experiences about more abstract and subjective concepts such as leadership, creativity, flexibility, pace, etc. You can suggest and explain these abilities in detail later on in the interview. (Check out: 25 words that hurt your resumé)

Think functional rather than chronological. As a student or new grad, you probably had long gaps between work experience while you tried to balance school, finances and gaining meaningful work experience. That’s okay! You have two options. Put your past roles in order of relevance to the job you’re applying for, or put the one you think says the most about your abilities at the top and move down from there.

  • Work experience is still experience, whether you got paid or not. Students and recent grads often work without pay to get experience in their desired field. To save space, put everything under Work Experience and scrap the Volunteer Work section.

Be yourself, but keep it clean and simple. Although a creative, non-traditional resumé will make you stand out, be sure the person doing the hiring will really appreciate it before you go in that direction. Usually a resumé prepared in a word processer, such as Microsoft Word, printed in black ink on a white sheet of paper will do. There are hundreds of great looking templates out there, or you can start from scratch and create your own.

Ask around. Talk to profs, fellow students, co-workers, bosses – anyone working in your area of interest – about what generally works and doesn’t work for resumés in your industry. You’ll probably find that everyone says something different, but hopefully you can discover some personal rules of thumb to hold yourself to when applying for internships, summer jobs and entry-level roles.

What do you already do to make your resumé sparkle?

Share
About the author

Cassandra Jowett is TalentEgg's Content Manager. She joined the team as a student intern in the summer of 2008, and since then her heart has never really left the Egg Carton. Cassandra is a recent graduate of the Ryerson University School of Journalism, where she earned a Bachelor of Journalism with a focus in writing and editing for newspapers. She has also written and edited for The Globe and Mail, The National Post, t.o.night newspaper and other publications.