You may think that everything on your résumé is fine, as I did, but this is where you will benefit from getting someone else to look it over for you. Having a résumé that is top-notch is extremely important in helping you attain a job. Trust me, it's worth the time and effort you will spend on this. This same girl with a new résumé now has a full-time job.
Find someone who knows what they are talking about—professor, career counselor, wise friend—and encourage them to be critical. Although it may be hard to take the criticism initially—because, after all, this is your life on paper—but it really is good to get a fresh perspective. If your résumé isn't communicating your strengths to the people who know you, then how will it communicate your strengths to a stranger?
I was lucky to have an older, wiser friend offer to give me some pointers on my résumé. Now, I am happy to say, it looks very polished and complete. Here are some suggestions to make sure your résumé represents all of you well:
Fill in that white space
Literally fill up as much of the page as you can. If you're having trouble fitting all of your experience, don't cut language, cut white space. Change the margins on the page to be smaller, decrease the header and footer space, and decrease the amount of space between bullet points and the text that follows. By cutting white space instead of experience, your résumé is going to look more complete and your background will look more extensive. This isn’t to say that you should add “fluff” just to have more words/things to include, but don’t be shy about elaborating on each of your past experiences, particularly those that are pertinent.
Write full, career sentences
Write each point of experience as a complete sentence, and then use periods at the end of each bullet point. That’s just how it is. It marks an end to each point that is made. Use language you know is used in the kind of company to which you are applying. Pull ideas for vocabulary and syntax from job descriptions you can read online. Find your dream jobs and fill your résumé with similar language. Examples include “lead,” “collaborated,” “executed”, and “brainstormed.” Powerful action verbs add punch to a résumé. This shows companies that you have what it takes to succeed in an office environment. Describe instances where you took initiative, worked with others, and came up with ideas.
Prioritize where you're going, not where you've been
Add an objective statement, but treat it more like an introduction of you. Career advisors debate this item often, and some will tell you to cut an objective statement. If it does not add value to your résumé, then yes, cut it. On the other hand, if you’re a recent graduate with experience that seems all over the place or lacks direction, then an introduction or statement at the top could clarify your career goals to a potential employer. This statement gives your résumé a focus. It’s like a pitch of your ambition and career goals, and it shows the employer what you are looking for in a job. When writing the statement, consider your goals and what type of position you truly desire, and then compile it into a one or two-sentence statement about yourself and your ambitions.
Put your education after your relevant experience. I was inclined to put my education at the top, as I had just graduated and thought it would be a good idea to show my GPA, majors, etc. Wrong. Employers are more interested in the real-world experience that you have had rather than your college degree. It’s just the climate of the job search today. The bachelor’s degree is important, but not as important as the experience that will directly translate to the open position.
What are you leaving out?
List your technical skills. Include social media skills, as well as any skills with Microsoft Office software, Adobe Creative Suites, PC and/or Mac experience, etc. Fill this section up. Employers want to see what type of program knowledge you have. Don’t assume that everyone knows how to use Twitter or create a PowerPoint, because not everyone does. If you don’t list the program, then your employer will assume you have not used it.
Those action verbs mean nothing without results. Include numbers in your bullet points as much as possible to give an idea of the scope of the projects you've worked on and their results. Get very specific in your explanations of your intern or job tasks and about the company itself. Employers aren’t always familiar with various companies or organizations, so don’t assume that they are. Be extremely detailed and number-oriented in your bullets.
So there you have it. I think these are great pieces of advice people might forget when looking over their résumé and making improvements. And, I like to think that being given this information helped me get a job. Yes you read that right—I am now employed!