Imagine attempting to review hundreds of resumes in search of the perfect person for a new position. Even if you were resolved to find the best future employee, you would not have time to read every word. More than likely, you would scan the document, especially the experience section. If nothing captivated you, you would move on to the next candidate. This is exactly the routine of hiring managers who sort through the applications they receive, so you will want to generate interest in your qualifications.
Your document can make it to the top of the stack by carefully crafting the experience section of your resume.
- Word your experience heading(s) carefully to contribute to your personal brand. Everyone will have work experience, so distinguish yourself by relating your background to the position you are seeking. For example, you will grab the attention of your readers when they skim your resume by using the header “Marketing & Sales Experience” instead of just “Work History.”
- Get organized. Styling improves readability. Identify a format for listing your job title, employer and employment dates. Then stick to it throughout your resume. Use bolding, horizontal lines, tabbing or tables to make information pop. Use bullet points to help the reader skim teh document more easily.
- Do not limit your experience to paid employment. Some of your most relevant experience may come from part-time jobs, internships, service-learning, volunteer work, class projects, jobs, military experience, clubs/student organizations, memberships, leadership experiences and other activities.
- Emphasize only the skills that are relevant. You have innumerable skills and cannot include them all. Review the position description to identify the attributes they desire. Does all of the content on your resume relate to the position you are seeking? If you will not be performing the tasks you highlighted in this future role, eliminate it. Otherwise, your readers will need to search for your key qualifications among fluff. The example below illustrates this concept.
Content Specific Skill to Eliminate: Made sandwiches for customers.
Transferable Skill: Built rapport quickly with customers and worked in a fast-paced environment that required me to collaborate with my colleagues.
- Use strong action verbs. View a list of powerful words identified by the Muse.
- Include buzz words or keywords. Showcase your competency by using the terminology of your industry. Visit the organization’s website, social media page or LinkedIn profile. Identify popular terminology in your field by reviewing the information published by professional associations, textbooks or journals.
- Share testimonials. Include quotes from your letters of recommendation, internship evaluations, preceptor/cooperating teacher comments, or annual appraisals.
- Include a job title. A specific title brings more credibility to a position rather than a generic title, such as “Intern.” If you were not given an official title or are unsure about its exact wording, consult with your supervisor and agree upon one. Possible generic titles to consider include Aide, Assistant, Associate, Coordinator, Facilitator and Specialist.
- Transcend personal adjectives. Anyone can say they are hard working. Prove it. Demonstrating is always better than telling.
Example: During my internship evaluation, my supervisor complimented me on my attention to detail, positive attitude, and work ethic.
- Distinguish yourself from your peers. In addition to the results of your activities and skills, what other unique attributes do you offer an organization? What have you done better than others? What awards or honors have you received? What leadership positions have you held? How have you improved the organizations with which you have been involved? When have you taken initiative, exceeded the call of duty or assumed more responsibility?
Example: Earned distinction through Dean’s list recognition and by securing highly sought after faculty-selected teaching assistant position.
- Address the organization’s needs. Most applicants only list their activities. Take it a step further by outlining the value and benefit that these tasks provide to the organization. Demonstrate your ability to make money, solve problems, save time, build relationships, and provide quality service.
Example: Reorganized filing system in work study position, resulting in substantially improved efficiency and database management within our office.
- Connect your activities to desired skills. Do the work for your readers. Do not expect them to infer your qualifications from a list of activities. Draw out the skill that these tasks demonstrate.
Example: Exhibited strong work ethic, organization and time management skills by successfully managing co-curricular leadership positions, part-time employment and a rigorous course load.
- Include collective accomplishments. What was the key objective of your department and how did you contribute to this?
Example: Produced the highest customer satisfaction rating of the year with my Verizon sales team by providing personalized follow-up and service.
- Be specific. Replace vague words such as "assisted," "responsible for" and "helped" with words that produce powerful imagery like "developed," "researched" or "created."
Before: Assisted with after-school tutoring program.
After: Contributed to a 15 percent increase in the retention of at-risk students by marketing an after-school program to parents and launching a new tutoring program.
- Use numbers. Don’t simply pluralize your accomplishments.
Before: Trained new employees.
After: Authored a 195-page new employee handbook that was used corporation-wide to train more than 250 staff.
- Make comparisons between competitors, with the industry average or the company average. Example: Exceeded the average Wells Fargo sales rate by 15%.
- Describe a challenge or problem that you overcame. Example for Campus Safety Work Study Position: Responded effectively and promptly to individuals in crisis when they called for assistance. Student Teaching Example: Simultaneously implemented two language arts curricula to address the needs of both English-only and bilingual students.
- Identify the tangibles that you have produced. Examples include software programs, publications, or products.
Example: Co-designed interdisciplinary lesson plan with cooperating teacher that celebrated diversity and was published online by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD).
- Open or close with your strongest point. Lead with your strongest content, especially if your resume is two pages. Your readers will skim the bulleted list of statements that are underneath each position and may miss items that are buried in the middle.
- Eliminate grammatical errors. Your resume is a writing sample. Carefully proof it to avoid the impression that you are lazy or inattentive to details. Have a friend, family member or the Success Center look at your resume prior to submission.
Like these tips? You'll discover even more suggestions, example resumes and FREE individual consultation tailored to your career objective in the Student Success Center. Contact us today for exclusive coaching available only to Augustana students and alumni.