Guest Blogger: Bridget Holmes, Senior Director, Career Initiatives
The bad news is that 99.9% of you will definitely need a resume before you graduate. The good news is that once you have a solid resume, you will just need to tweak it for the rest of your foreseeable career. Whether you are applying for a job, internship, graduate school, or a year of service, your resume is your one page advertisement about you. Make it count!
Here are our top 10 tips for student resumes:
1. Short and sweet. At this point in your career, keep your resume to one page. If you are having an issue getting it down to one page try the following tricks: increase margins to .5 all the way around, decrease font to 11pt, put your address, phone, and email all on one line, and decrease space between groupings to 5pt. Side note: at this point in your career you do NOT need a professional summary.
2. Objectives: Necessary or no? You do not necessarily need an objective and definitely only if it’s good. Bad Example “To obtain a full time position in investment banking utilizing educational and internship experience.” Good example: “To obtain an internship experience in the field of international development leveraging global non profit experience, international coursework focus, and language skills.” The second example does two things – it keeps you from getting mixed in with the full time employment pile AND it talks about your combination of experiences that make you unique among your peers. It is better to eliminate an objective than to include a generic one – the space can be used much better in other ways.
3. The dreaded GPA. Generally, if your GPA is a 2.8 or higher it’s fine to include on your resume. It’s a tough question because if you include it and it’s lower, the employer knows you don’t have a 4.0. If you don’t include it they may think it’s lower than it actually is. You need to ask yourself: does my GPA adequately reflect my academic experience and expertise. If you had a low freshman GPA but higher GPA’s in later years, consider putting your most recent GPA. As long as you note what GPA you are posting and being honest it is totally appropriate. Example: 2012-2013 GPA Average 3.5. Include honors, awards, and scholarships.
4. Your bucket list. Categories can include Leadership Experience, Related Experience, Research Experience, Writing Experience, Community Experience, Athletic Experience, Other Work , etc. In a world where a recruiter only looks at your resume for 5-10 seconds, having bucketed lists for your experience gives them a much faster understanding of your experience. Just because something isn’t paid doesn’t mean it needs to be in a Volunteer or Extra Curricular category. Do you write for the Hoya? Writing Experience. Do research for a professor? Research Experience. Have multiple leadership roles in clubs and organizations? Leadership Experience. Keep in mind the types of positions you will be applying to when crafting your buckets. Include high school experience at least until Sophomore year at which point your collegiate experiences will begin to outweigh those from high school.
5. Order of operations. Most important and most salient comes first on your resume. You are a student so education comes first. Then put your most important buckets toward the top. Within each “bucket” things should be listed in reverse chronological order. Side note: hobbies are NOT necessary to include unless they are tangible. For example, if you were an Olympic athlete, one the international chess competition, have a black belt, or won a marathon include it. Knitting, reading, and long walks on the beach, not so much.
6. Action, action, action. Always use varied action verbs to begin your descriptions. Paint a picture of your work, your experience, your skills. Students always undersell their extra curricular and athletic experience. Make notes about everything you did in that particular position and then professionalize it. For example, “served tables at the Tombs”may read “Provided excellent customer service in high volume, high turnover, restaurant and bar. Trained new employees. Awarded server of the month twice in one year.” Sometimes your description may also include a brief synopsis of the club/group too. For example, employers may not be familiar with the Corp or the Hoya. What makes them significant?
7. Spelling counts. Make sure your resume is free of spelling and grammatical errors. Most recruiters will automatically discard resumes with errors.
8. Skills. Include computer and language skills only if they go beyond Microsoft Office and English. Did you learn statistical software? Photoshop? Specific professional social media experience (beyond updating your status on Facebook)? Do you have conversational French experience?
9. It’s all about the numbers. Quantify where possible. Were you responsible for a club budget? How much? Did you write for the Hoya? How often? Work at a restaurant or retail establishment? What were the average daily volume of sales? Did you plan a charity event? How much did you raise?
10. Have it reviewed. The more eyes on your resume the better. Have it reviewed at the Cawley Career Education Center, by a parent, friend, or industry expert. Even better, sign up for a resume review through Hoya Gateway! Chances are that if you have 10 people review your resume, you’ll get 10 different opinions. You can pick and choose what you think is most valuable and make the most sense for you.