Crafting a flawless application can become a daunting task, especially when you’re not sure how to relate skills gained from your previous summer work experiences—which could range from an internship with a family business to delivering pizzas—to a potential career.
Anna Rayis, graduate assistant at the AU Center for Career and Calling, shares her top resume-crafting tips that will help make your application shine.
1. Fix Your Format
“Some industries are okay with color, and some are not,” says Rayis. “Some are okay with certain formats, and some are okay with others. Knowing your industry is important.”
Paying close attention to the type of job you are applying for could save you from submitting a multi-colored resume to an employer who prefers black-and-white. For instance, a graphic design company likely wants to see a resume that demonstrates what you can do with colors, images and fonts, whereas an application for a position in finance would likely require a traditional presentation.
Make sure that you are submitting the resume in the correct format as well—submitting a Microsoft Word Document for an employer who specifically requests a PDF is an easy way to get looked over.
2. Sell The Right Skills
A crucial key to writing a successful resume is choosing the most appropriate skills to show off to the employer. “A lot of times, the computer will filter through the resume before it even gets to a human being,” says Rayis. “Making sure those things are on there for the computer to read is important.”
Job postings will very likely feature a list of skills and responsibilities important to the position. Make sure to pay close attention to the job description—what skills and experiences do you have that fit what the employer is looking for?
3. Describe Exceptional Experiences
“Really describe what you did exceptionally at each job—not just the task that you completed, but why you completed it and how you did it,” says Rayis. Recording the tasks that you not only completed, but completed well, will make your resume stand out from the many applications that rush into your potential employer’s inbox.
Consider how you not simply met the requirements of a previous job, but went above and beyond those expected tasks. “It’s always great to ask a boss for special projects that you can then feature on your resume,” Rayis adds. That extra work will pay off in the long run by proving that your motivated attitude would be valuable to an industry.
4. Acknowledge Achievements
If you are the recipient of an award or have been recognized for your hard work, don’t hesitate to mention it. Rayis states that even a scholarship or being featured on the Dean’s List qualifies as an achievement and might impress an employer.
“A lot of people will forget about those things, but they are helpful to have,” she says.
Campus and community involvement matters, too—highlight experiences that prove you are an active participant and servant in and around AU.
“Even listing that you are an intramural champion is still valuable,” says Rayis.
5. Edit, Edit and Edit Again
A pesky misspelling or grammar error could cost you a fantastic opportunity. To avoid minor mistakes, have someone read over your resume before you submit it, and more than just once. Even something as seemingly insignificant as an extra space in the text could define the difference between getting passed over and landing an interview.
“Sometimes if something is spaced incorrectly and they have 10 good candidates, they’ll be faster to throw yours out because you’re showing that you’re not detail-oriented,” says Rayis. Taking care to edit and review your resume multiple times will make the chance of an interview for your dream job more likely.
For more resume-writing tips and free feedback, Rayis encourages students to contact the Center for Career and Calling by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.