I was 17 when I designed my first resume. Today, looking at the one-page document containing 167 words, I cannot help but feel embarrassed by it. Yet, at that time, I was very much proud of that resume because I was the only one to have one among my same-age peers.
My resume changed many times after the first draft due to two reasons. First, I was gaining more experience and broadening my horizons. Second, my understanding of how a resume should look changed gradually as I attended various workshops, watching many tutorials and reading lots of articles on writing one. But I learned even more about crafting great resumes while working at a headhunting company. Through reviewing dozens of resumes each day for the course of three and a half years, I can now easily assess them through the eyes of a recruiter.
Designing a resume is like designing your business card. A well-written resume can get you a ticket to interviews, but it is not limited to listing all the things you have done since your birth.
Here are four things your resume is probably missing that can help you make it stand out in a stack alongside many others:
1. Your true desire.
A recruiter judges a candidate not only based on their hard skills, but also their soft skills and motivation for the job. To do so, they usually meet with the candidate, and during an interview, they assess his or her motivation based on the tone of the speaking, facial expressions, general energy, and responses to motivation-related questions.
You can be ahead of the game by putting a few sentences about your intentions and motivation to demonstrate how relevant and happy you will be in such a role. By writing a short career objective, you will be able to show how motivated you are to commit yourself to such a job. In return, a recruiter will hopefully appreciate your interest and be glad to present you with a chance to express yourself during an interview.
2. Your true knowledge.
Mentioning your Alma Mater, Major and GPA are not what recruiters looking forward to seeing, even if you are an Ivy League alumnus. Instead, mention a few courses that you enjoyed taking or are relevant to the job you are applying for. You may also want to list the extracurricular courses that you have taken to display your professional or personal interests. If you completed a thesis or some sort of capstone project, you can mention the title and provide a very brief explanation (read: one sentence). Noting down a presentation or a scientific article that was published while you were still at school will also be advantageous for you.
3. Your true experience.
Each year, university students are hunting for an internship or a part-time opportunity to finance their expenses or get some professional experience while still studying. No matter what kind of a job you’ve had( whether it is waitressing, working as a barista or coding as a freelancer), having prior professional experience is always a benefit when applying for a full-time opportunity after the college.
Many falsely think that listing down past experiences is all that is required. Listing your job responsibilities do not always say something about you. Internships or part-time jobs are about simulating a real professional environment and gaining technical skills. Thus, your potential employer wants to know what kind of professional skills you’ve gained up before potentially joining their team. To do so, you can mention an internship project you’ve worked for. If you have a chance, mention a mentor who can put a few words about your contribution. If you have worked as a part-time employee, mention what you achieved so far: initiating a new filing system, deducing the cost of a certain operation, or optimizing communication within the organization. If you’ve worked as a freelancer, you can share a portfolio of projects you have completed so far.
4. Your true contribution.
Many young people mention organizations or student clubs where they once were members. Sometimes this is to show that they have been active as students, and sometimes it is simply to fill some space to enrich their resumes. What a recruiter looks for in a resume is not the name of the organization, but what you have contributed while volunteering your time. Have you published an article about a certain topic in the local newspaper for attracting attention to the issue? Did you propose a new idea that will benefit the organization? Or maybe you volunteered to manage an event or raise money for a cause? Mention what you have done during your volunteering experience, not just the names of the organizations you have been a member of.
For example, a friend of mine was a member of a charity organization where he only participated in weekly meetings. After a while, he thought he was not contributing enough. Thus, he decided to tutor some of the teenagers from disadvantaged families. The organization reached out to such families and he started a new project that gained attention and raised money. Noting down this contribution in his resume helped him a lot, as his current employer could see that he was not afraid of taking action.
Make your resume the best you possibly can.
Writing a resume demands lots of attention, dedication and at least a bit of experience. However, by writing a brief that will demonstrate your knowledge, experience, commitment and motivation in a structured, clear and grammatically correct way, you will be able to be ahead of the game.
Leyla is an intellectually curious and multilingual communications professional who loves traveling, reading, writing and coffee… lots of coffee.
Image via Unsplash