It’s daunting to have to present yourself to the workforce via one sheet of paper. A resume is a job-seeker’s initial introduction, showing proof of interview-worthiness. So although we cannot have our resumes talk on our behalf, vouching for our righteousness and go-getter attitude, there are actual ways to properly prepare them for the hiring world.
Highlight classes that are valuable
For college students, sometimes there isn’t time or even transportation to juggle multiple off-campus internships and side jobs. If you find yourself completely swamped with your academic load alone, highlight classes that are appropriate for the job you are applying for. Under your Education section of your resume, include a line entitled Relevant Coursework. Simply list off courses that you have taken that 1. Are applicable to the job and 2. Consist of material you are well-versed in. Let’s say our student-job-seeker is looking to get involved with a non-profit health clinic. They want to make sure that hiring managers acknowledge the type of material they are familiar with. Here’s a quick example of what that could like:
University Name (Expected) Graduation Date
Degree Type, Major(s) & Minor(s)
GPA/Academic Distinctions (Dean’s List)
Relevant Coursework: Health Behavior Theory, Nutritional and Global Health, Introduction to Grant Writing and Research Proposals, Administrative Health Policy
That’s why it’s so important to choose classes you can confidently talk about! You never know, you may get called in for an interview and be asked to elaborate on what you’ve learned. Depending on how much space you have to fill up a 1-page resume, listing 4-5 courses can help focus your interests.
Don’t underestimate projects
Whether you major in engineering, biology, studio art, psychology, math or environmental sciences, there are opportunities through classes and clubs that require hands-on projects. Individual or group projects can be research-based for a senior thesis or as final exams in certain classes. Any relevant project that you have devoted a substantial amount of time and effort in deserves to be featured on a resume. Things to remember:
- Quantify as much as possible when it comes to how many people worked on the project and if there were numerical results from your project/study
- Give your project and yourself (if possible) an understandable title:
- Health Sector Management Class Project, Team Member
- Art in Living Spaces: Senior Thesis, Group Leader
- As with all other experiences listed, have at least 3-4 bullet points to elaborate on what you contributed to the project
Watch your verbs and their tenses
Hiring managers on average spend only six seconds looking over your resume. Yikes! With such a fast overview, you want to make sure your bullet points flow well so everything is easy to read. Start every bullet with a strong verb. Some call these proactive verbs, some say action verbs. Use appropriate verbs and depending on your work history, apply the proper tense. For present jobs, present tense. For past jobs, past tense. Easy enough, right? You’d be surprised how many people forget to update their verbs as time goes on.
Be consistent with your labeling and format
This one gets overlooked way too often. After you have tweaked your resume to your liking, the best way to check for errors is to print it out. Have some friends act as spelling and grammar police, searching for any errors you might have missed. For your own proofread, here’s what to look for once you have a printed document:
- Do the margins cut off any text?
- Is your name easily visible?
- Is your contact info up-to-date?
- Are the dates you have listed all aligned?
- Did I list all of the locations of my experiences?
- Is it one full page?
Remember, resumes change with you. Updating and changing things up can help keep your information fresh and relevant. For you college students out there, take advantage of your campus career center and get the resume critiques you need to feel confident in your job search. It’s never too early to start building your resume the right way!
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