Building an effective resume is key to finding a job. The average recruiter looks at a resume for six seconds before deciding to keep it or toss it, according to Research by The ladders, a New York City-based career services company. Many factors contribute to a resume that will be accepted. Among the most important are format and content.
Melanie Steimle, a career counselor at BYU Career Services, warned that when building a resume, students must be careful with what advice they take from Internet sources.
“There is a lot of bad advice floating around the Internet on how to make your resume stand out,” Steimle said. “You don’t want your resume to stand out because it has a lot of colors or strange fonts.”
Megan Rothey, a hiring manager for the Internet marketing company Leadgenix, also encouraged students to use a traditional format.
“Limit the amount of creativity used in the design of your resume. Using a format that recruiters expect and fonts that are easy to read makes our lives much easier,” Rothey said. “This may not apply if you are in a very visual/creative field.”
Chris Zebly, a peer mentor at BYU Career Services, added that while people want to ensure that their content is quality, they must also make sure that all of the information is accurate.
When deciding on the content of a resume, emphasizing the topics of interest to the employer is key.
“When students are applying for a specific job or internship, they need to think about what the employer is looking for. They shouldn’t emphasize what they think is important but rather highlight the things that the employer will find important,” Steimle said. “One way to do this is to familiarize yourself with the job description and use keywords from the job description in the resume”
After becoming familiar with the job description and what the employer is looking for, the next step is compiling all of the necessary relevant information into a resume. It is a good idea to take a look at some sample resume to get an understanding of what a resume should look like.
Organization of content is also of top importance.
“Put the most relevant information first. If your school projects and your major/classes are what is related most closely to the job you are looking for, then put that at the top,” Rothey said.
A resume should contain four categories: contact info, education, experience and skills.
In the contact area, Zebly said it is important to include a name, phone number and professional e-mail address. Including a residential address can be tricky because college students move so often.
“When deciding which address to put on a resume, it is best to use the one that is nearest to the job that you are applying to,” Steimle said. “For example, if you are a BYU student from New Hampshire and you want to apply for a job or internship on the East Coast, you should put your home address of New Hampshire on your resume instead of your Provo address.”
Information in the education section should be formatted in reverse chronological order with the most recent information on top. Things to include are school, degree and expected graduation date. Steimle recommends that students include GPA in the resume, unless it is low and will draw attention from high points, like the applicant’s experience.
The experience section of a resume is a great opportunity to showcase qualities such as leadership, communication, problem solving and critical thinking. People can show these skills by listing relevant experience with employment or even volunteer work. They should include their title; the organization name and location; and the dates they worked at the institution.
The skills section of the resume should include measurable skills such as language skills, ability to use specific computer programs or other technical or specific knowledge. Steimle recommended that abstract skills such as communication skills and teamwork skills be shown by experience in the experience section rather than including them in the skills section of a resume.
Building a great resume may take some time. However, the investment of time that it takes to build a great resume will pay off when potential employers read it.