Five Spring Cleaning Tips for Your College Resume
It's springtime, and besides bringing thoughts of flowers and warm weather, for college students it brings thoughts of jobs and summer internships.
A lot of students have come up to me in the past few weeks asking me to review their résumés. If they are sophomores and juniors, they are getting ready to hunt down summer internships; if they are graduating seniors, they are looking for that first full time job out in the real world.
Even though the economy seems to be turning around, there is still a lot of competition out there for jobs and internships. So you need to have a sharp resume. Now is the time to do some spring cleaning on your resume to make sure you stand out when you go looking for work.
Here are some tips based on the mistakes I have seen on the resumes I reviewed.
1. Don't put your education at the top of the resume
You may be darn proud that you graduated or that you are going to a great school. But, even though employers want to know your educational status, it is probably the least important info they want about you. It needs to be on your resume -- but at the bottom, not the top.
2. Play up your real-world experience
Many resumes I looked at showed some great experience that was downplayed because the students thought the work was not that important.
First, you need to put your work experience at the top of the resume. That is the most important thing employers will look at, because they want to know what skills and experience you already have under your belt.
Second, without stretching the truth, make the work seem as important as possible. For example, one student had under their work experience:
Reporter -- campus radio station
Based on what they had actually done, I had them change it to:
Political Reporter -- WRHU Radio, Hempstead, NY--covered municipal politics for radio station operated by HofstraUniversity and heard throughout the New York City metropolitan area.
Sounds a lot more impressive. Even if you were a clerk at a 7-11, if you are looking for a business job and you did inventory work or closed out the books each day at the store, highlight that in the job description on your resume.
Also, if you are listing internships, make sure you mention if the internship was a paid position. And always point out all of the professional work you did on those internships.
3. List relevant skills
If you are looking for a communications job, list the type of equipment you have operated and the software programs you are familiar with using. If you are looking for an accounting job, let them know what spreadsheet software you have used.
4. Check your grammar and spelling
Poorly constructed sentences and misspelled words can only hurt you. Use spelling and grammar checks, and have someone else read over your resume to look for mistakes.
5. Have someone in your target industry look over your resume
One of the smartest things the students who asked me to look at their resumes did was ask me to look at their resumes. Until a few months ago, I was one of the people doing the hiring in the business where they were trying to get a job. Who is better to review a resume than a person who knows which resumes get the attention of hiring managers?