So you have been a professional college student for some time and you’re ready to attempt landing that first important job that will help launch that career you’ve been preparing for. There are some simple things you can emphasize and a few things to beware of when preparing your resume.
For starters, resumes can be a challenge because ultimately they need to simple. The ideal resume concisely and effectively conveys your education, job history, activities, and achievements to the potential hiring manager in one short and sweet page.
It’s best to list these items in chronological order. Give your name, address, phone number, and state a job objective. For example, To gain practical work experience in the field of marketing, and promotion is clear and to the point.
It also helps to target a specific position. A common mistake is to use the same blanket resume for applying to a multitude of jobs. Remember, one size does not fit all! You will need to tailor your objectives and the types of relevant information you include to fit the job you are seeking. Employers can tell if you are using a cookie-cutter resume or if you haven’t done your homework about what line of business they are in.
It doesn’t send a very positive message. If you can’t spare a few moments to customize your resume submission, why should a hiring manager spend more than a few moments considering you for the position? The key is to let your resume serve as your calling card so you will definitely want it to be a polished reflection of you (and show your attention to detail).
College students often underestimate all that they have to offer an employer. If you don’t have a laundry list of work experiences, you can supplement your resume by emphasizing your skills and there are many that are relevant to hiring managers. Things such as fluency in a foreign language, secretarial skills, and typing (think about all those term papers you’ve prepared) are great skills to cite on your resume.
Internships are particularly valuable since most internship opportunities groom college students for the reality of the working world. Similarly, study abroad classes and trips show diversity in your learning experiences and also that you are open to new challenges. If you have them in your repertoire, include them!
When listing your education, obviously you will want to list your major, but don’t forget specializations and minors also. If your GPA is strong, include it. If not, leave it out. In addition, if you have made the Dean’s list or received other honors such as scholarships you should be sure to toot your own horn as evidence of your tenacity and work ethic.
List your student activities, volunteer activities, and community involvement as well. You want to illustrate that you have been a well-rounded student and didn’t spend all of your time with your head in the books.
You will want to preface your resume with a cover letter whenever possible. The cover letter lets you do two specific things: introduce yourself as a viable person for hire and help you obtain your main objective, securing the interview.
You want to get their attention and encourage them to take a closer look at your submission. Whet their appetite for all that you can bring their company or organization.
Your cover letter should:
1) Express an interest in that particular company and that particular position
2) Be engaging and friendly as you tell them why you are the right person for the job (list your skills, past experience, etc.) State convincing qualifications and why their company interests you.
3) Try to mention a specific date when, if they haven’t had a chance to get back to you, you will follow up with them.
The cover letter injects some personality and life into your otherwise factual and impersonal resume. It can make your overall resume submission more interesting.
Be sure it is well written (free of grammatical and spelling errors). If you want to really be sure, get a professor or buddy you trust to look it over for you. Four eyes are often better than two. This goes for your resume also.
The following is a cover letter example:
(Be sure to use a basic business letter heading)
Dear Mrs. Medici,
I am a senior majoring in Information Systems at the University of Illinois. I am keenly interested in IBM because of your technologically advanced products, such as your AS400 server line. I have used this equipment during a summer internship and have been very impressed with its efficiency. More than any other company I’ve researched, IBM has consistently set the standard in server technology.
Please find enclosed my resume detailing my academic and work experience for the past three years. As you can see, I have been preparing myself for entry into the computer industry by working diligently and exposing myself to a range of technical opportunities whenever possible. I hope this will serve as an indicator of my work ethic and my potential to contribute to your organization.
If you would like to contact me to set up a personal interview, I can be reached at (313) 765-9974. If I do not hear from you by Monday, November 6, I will call you.
Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
The following is a sample resume:
257 Lakewood Avenue
Chicago, IL 60653
University of Illinois at Chicago
Bachelor of Science, expected May 2005
Major: Information Systems Minor: E-Commerce
Fall 2004 Sylvan Learning Center Chicago, IL
Taught basic web navigation and internet proficiencies to middle-school children
Assisted children aged 7-9 with reading comprehension
Facilitated practice tests and lessons in grammatical structure and punctuation
Provided assistance with math homework, science project preparation, and art projects
2003-2004 University of Illinois Chicago, IL
Lab Tech and Tour Guide
Aided students with computer basics and assisted them with class assignments in MS
Offered general guidance in student web site design and HTML coding
Performed lab facility tours for prospective students and parents
Maintained lab facilities through regularly scheduled virus testing and other administrative duties
Summer 2003 Candle Corporation Rolling Meadows, IL
Served the technical staff in various capacities by rotating to different posts within their department including the usability team, server group, and application development team.
Assisted in a company-wide intranet usability evaluation with the Candle usability team.
2002 Chicago Public Library Chicago, IL
Offered assistance with the development of the main library website and online card catalog system.
Recruited other students to participate in library events and volunteer activities.
Microsoft Office (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, FrontPage), basic web design, HTML, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, web navigation, research databases, and typing 45 WPM.
Available upon Request