This post was written by the Director of Career Services, Robert Sweigart in preparation for the upcoming Job Fair, on March 28, being hosted on our campus. Thank you to Mr. Sweigart and his team for working so hard to help our students find their dream careers! Contact your Career Services adviser for help with your resume, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
At Coleman University, our diverse student population includes those seeking their first job, returning veterans, students interested in changing careers, and individuals returning to the workforce after a leave of absence. What they all have in common is the need to create an appealing, professional resume that catches an employer’s eye.
Today, employers spend only a few seconds on each resume they receive. Therefore, employees need to develop a resume that differentiates their work background from the competition. Coleman’s career services advisors work one-on-one with students to provide personalized professional development services, and our experience shows that when it comes to resumes, one size does not necessarily fit all. There are requirements and recommendations that we have for each of our programs. What suits your resume is not guaranteed to work for your peers. The basics of a resume are the same, however each resume is unique. If you need help updating your resume or would like to have it reviewed make time to visit your Career Services Advisor as soon as possible so that we can help you get into the career you really want.
Candidates should thoroughly read the job description and tailor their resume to the needs of the company. Is the company interested only in candidates that hold a specific degree or certification? Does the company require candidates to submit a portfolio of their work? At Coleman, our graphic design and game development and design students are encouraged to refine their portfolios and post them online, so that they are easily accessible to employers. You do not need to bring an arsenal of technology and handouts to go with your resumes, but keep in mind that employers will search for your name online and it is pertinent to ensure that what they find will not disqualify you as a candidate. Update your portfolios, websites, or any other digital media that you curate, before you begin submitting resumes.
Keep in mind that many large and small companies utilize applicant tracking systems to assist in their recruiting efforts. These systems search for key words in your resume to add to their database. It is important that candidates include those key words from the job description so that they are not automatically disqualified before they even meet with an employer.
What other aspects should be considered when writing a resume?
- Formatting is important. You may want to research resumes from peers in your field to determine whether there is a certain outline that should be followed, or speak with a career advisor. Use (but don’t overuse) bullet points. Avoid graphics, large blocks of single-spaced text, and varying font sizes.
- Proper grammar and punctuation is critical. There is no place for slang words in a resume. If you have questions about grammar or punctuation, check out grammar books from the local library, view online sources, or seek out a career advisor or trusted friend for advice.
- Place name, phone number(s), address, and e-mail address in the top left-hand corner. Create a professional e-mail address and take a professional photo for social media sites.
- Write a succinct profile that highlights work experiences and the skills you have to offer an employer. This profile should entice a hiring manager to read further.
- Resumes no longer include an objective. Instead, we recommend students write a summary of their skills, using bullet points to identify all the relevant abilities that pertain to the job for which they are applying.
- The work experience section of the resume should include dates of employment in reverse chronological order, the name of organization, the physical location of the employer (city and state), the title of the position, and description of work responsibilities. Under each position, emphasize specific results generated (how you reduced costs, increased sales, overcame a challenge) and use action verbs.
- Maintain a simple and direct resume. Do not exaggerate your experience or your qualifications as that is a good way to put yourself in a work situation that you may not be ready to handle. Be honest and concise with the information that you put onto your resume as it sets the tone for what an employer can expect from you as a potential employee, including your work ethics.
- The Career Services Department strongly suggests avoiding using a template for your resume. Downloaded or borrowed templates are not guaranteed to look the same after they are sent off and employers will notice immediately if you have sent in a template resume, which will not work in your favor.
If you experienced a gap in employment due to illness or caring for a family member, be prepared to give a short response that explains the situation. Business Insider gives 3 tips for addressing a job gap: be honest and upfront, consider doing volunteer work or taking relevant classes, and, explain the skills acquired while you were out of work. Gaps in employment are not necessarily viewed as negative if it can be explained how time away from the workforce has strengthened your background as the perfect candidate for the job.
- The education section should include the name of the institution, dates attended, and degree or degrees earned. Remember to include the major, minor, and important certifications. Make mention of academic awards if they are applicable to the position. Include a GPA if it is higher than 3.0, or if you do not have previous work experience.
- Veterans are often concerned how to transferring their military experience into civilian terms. Many skills gained in the military, such as organization, leadership, responsibility, and technical ability can be easily translated to a civilian job.
- Make sure that you include everything that an employer asks for with your resume submission, which may include a cover letter. The Harvard Business Review suggests a list of important cover letter aspects that will make your resume stand out. The Career Services Advisors at Coleman are here to help you with drafting your cover letters. Again, it is important that you make time to speak with them as soon as possible in order to be completely prepared for your career search.
Now that you have an understanding of what to include in a resume, we recommend omitting the following information:
- Personal information, such as age, marital status, race, or number of dependent children need not be included. Hobbies should be mentioned, only if they are applicable to the job. There is also no need to include high school graduation information.
- Irrelevant work history and nonessential extracurricular activities should not be listed. Think of your resume as your personal “elevator speech.” Only include work experience that highlights relevant skills and experience.
- All employers expect job applicants to have references, so there is no need to include a statement such as, “References will be furnished upon request.”
- It has become a more common practice among employers to seek out the private social media profiles of candidates in order to gain better insight into an applicant’s background. However, there is no need to include links or information pertaining to your personal social media profiles on your resume. It can be beneficial to include a link to your LinkedIn profile, so make sure that you have updated your LinkedIn before you start applying to employment opportunities. However, that is not something you are required to provide as part of a resume submission.
While we all live in a fast-paced world, it is important to take time with the resume process. Developing a carefully constructed resume could be the difference between hiring you, or the competition, for the next “dream” job.