The Perfect Christmas Gift: Resume Makeover

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If you’re still looking for the perfect gift to give to the college student in your life, might I recommend a resume makeover? This can come in handy for the college senior who will be exploring the job market early next year as it’ll be difficult enough for them to find work, but even more so for students whose resumes don’t stand out.

gift boxBut I’m not going to pitch a particular service provider although finding one is essential in helping students create a winning resume. Search the internet for a freelance writer who specializes in this type of work or look for one locally. Ask for references and insist on seeing links to samples. Resume writing is a targeted niche, one that not many professionals have mastered.

What I want to emphasize here is the importance of having a stand out resume in the first place, especially for the student who doesn’t have much of a work history. In that case these students will need to emphasize their academic accomplishments as well as any volunteer work performed.

Never discount the hours worked sweating behind a fast food counter either – employers want people who aren’t afraid to work and who aren’t too proud to take on a basic assignment at least from the start. And with the economy certain to stay in its present doldrums for at least the next few years, setting out with a strong resume can help.

Some things every student should consider when working with a professional to build their resume:

Personal information: The first item on any resume is the person’s name and contact information. An actual mailing address, email address, and contact phone numbers are important. But students need to make sure that the email address listed looks professional. Employers don’t take kindly to seeing emails addressed to hotlegs AT youremail.com. You can keep that account for your personal life, but don’t look at it as being a way to advance your career!

Objective: Some human resources professionals don’t mind objectives while others like them. Regardless, keep this information brief with an emphasis on what you can do for the company. Dr. Kathleen Hansen, who is the creative director and associate publisher of Quintessential Career advices, “If you do use an objective, make it very specific, not vague and meaningless.” (see Should You Use a Career Objective on Your Resume?)

Qualifications: After you wrestle with the objective, your resume should include a summary of qualifications. Susan Ireland, who is the author of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Perfect Resume” says, “The Summary of Qualifications section on your resume is composed of three to four brief statements that say why you’re the ideal candidate for the job mentioned in your objective statement.” (see Write a Summary of Qualifications)

Education: This will be the most important part of your resume as a student looking for work. Several years out, your “Education” will play second fiddle to your career accomplishments, but right now it is the most significant section that prospective employers will look at. You can list your degree or expected degree with the month and year included. Also, include educational accomplishments such as awards, recognition, GPA, and class projects, special assignments, and publications.

Experience: Work relevant to your career path should be featured including summer jobs, temporary assignments, volunteer work, and other activities. Though you might not list your babysitting jobs or yard work responsibilities, these can become relevant if you launched a business, started a website, or managed people. Just find a way to tie in your experience with what you want to do.

Skills: Daniel Scocco of Daily Writing Tips advises, “Merely stating that you can do something will not catch the attention of the employer. If you manage to explain how it will benefit his company, and to connect it to tangible results, then you will greatly improve your chances.” Consider that your skills offer solutions to problems. How can those skills benefit the company? (see 44 Resume Writing Tips)

Availability: Some employers may assume that you’re available at a certain time, but why leave that up to chance? If you aren’t graduating until July, perhaps stating Available August 2010 on one line toward the end of the resume is all that you need to show. You’ll also include that information in your cover letter, a topic for another time.

References: Find three solid people who can vouch for you academically, professionally, or personally, but don’t list that information on your resume. Instead, with the same contact format on your resume, create a separate reference sheet with the three people listed by name, title, relationship, and contact information. You want to make it easy for potential employers to contact them, so make sure the information supplied is accurate.

Are there other ways to write a resume? Sure, and that is something professionals wrestle with all of the time. Which is why you may need a resume makeover and a very good reason for you to accept such a gift if offered.

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Categories: Career Planning