By Maura Gergerich, Toppel Peer Advisor
So you have all these experiences and now you need to put them on paper to get yourself a job. Most employers will see your resume before they see you so it’s crucial that that piece of paper puts your best foot forward. The average time an employer looks at each resume is eight seconds; that’s how much time you have to really impress them with the skills you have to offer. Therefore, your resume must be efficient as well as thorough to get the employer to give it a closer look.
The required components of every resume are your name, contact information, and education. Your name should be the biggest writing on the paper. You should include your full name (all caps and bold is usually a good idea) and it should be located at the top of the page. Contact information should be beneath that. List a professional email address (make sure it’s not the embarrassing username you made when you were twelve) telephone number (with an appropriate voice message in case an employer makes a call while you are unavailable) and your address. If you have a permanent and current address (i.e. college students) list both, and if you have a personal website or LinkedIn list that too.
When listing education only put the school in which you earned your degree (if you’re a transfer student only list the school you switched to.) It should be listed with the school’s full name, city and state, full degree title, and graduation date. Do not put “expected graduation” as this implies that there may be a reason that you wouldn’t graduate at this time. The month and year is all that is necessary for the employer. This is also the section where you would put your study abroad experience, but not high school information. General rule of thumb is that after your freshmen year of college, anything from high school should be taken off. Also, a GPA of 3.0 or higher should be listed.
This section is not limited to paid experience. Volunteer activities and leadership positions are important too. Your list should be in reverse chronological order and be sure to include the company/organization, city, state, position, and date of employment (month and year of starting and ending date.) Each experience should also include a brief list of responsibilities (usually bulleted.) Your statements always start with an action verb and state what you did, using what skills, to achieve what result. It also helps to make quantitative statements (ex. Tutored fifteen students weekly…) when you can. This is a great section to utilize your thesaurus as well to avoid seeming repetitive.
This section is for anything specialized that may or may not have been mentioned in the experience section. Any computer programs you know how to use should be listed and also languages. Remember to be specific! Don’t simply list Microsoft office; each program should be listed separately. With languages, make sure to specify your competency (fluent, proficient, and conversational.) Do NOT exaggerate! You don’t want to be put in a position where you are under qualified.
After all of the basic resume info there are still many options of what to include on a resume. An objective statement can be added at the top to indicate what type of work or position you are seeking. You can impress employers by adding an honors/awards section (which would include scholarships.) There is also a possibility of adding a significant courses section. This is more geared toward finding a position in a desired area even if you don’t have specific work experience in that field. It can include things such as class projects to show employers specialized skills you have developed.
It seems like such a simple piece of paper, but your resume truly says a lot about you. Don’t feel obligated to include every single detail of your working life if you don’t feel it is important. Make sure, however, that you have one or two full pages, but try to avoid having a few lines hanging onto the next page. And most importantly keep in mind that whenever you have doubts you can always come to Toppel for a resume critique!