Whether applying for a first job or a career, all job applicants must submit a resume that exhibits their best qualities as an employee. Here are five quick tips that can make any applicant stand out from
Tailor a resume to the desired job
One easy way to ensure an employer sees the best version of a resume is to select the best and most applicable skills, experience and qualities to highlight. Ashley Eberle, career counselor on the Freshman Focus Team, works in Career Services for students that need job-related advice, including resume help.
“The most common mistake that we see students make on their resume is submitting the same resume for every job to which they apply,” Eberle said.
Presenting the same record of one’s experience for every possible job does not emphasize an applicant’s relevant job history. Tailoring a resume can accentuate the most appropriate experience and more impressive skills depending on the desired position.
Redesign in a professional format
Although employers are most interested in the content of a resume, giving your resume a visual edge can improve the chances of getting called in for an interview.
Graphic communications sophomore Nick Tyra always tries to add his own design and personal flair to exemplify his graphic design skill and potential for a job.
“I get inspiration from online templates and try to make a design that is unique. When a resume is basic, it doesn’t pop to an employer. I want employers to see how I can be creative and professional,” Tyra said.
Countless examples of templates can be found online and on the Career Services website. With access to resume and cover letter tutorials, creating a unique, professional document may only take a few visual edits.
Include personal qualities
In order to portray herself as multi-faceted, communications junior Christina Leedham always includes personal attributes that give her prospective employer more insight.
“I like to include personal qualities that I think set me apart from others”, Leedham said. “Giving a potential employer a few adjectives to describe yourself is a good way to exemplify the type of person you are. For this, I usually include my top strengths from StrengthsQuest.”
By showing not only job experience but also relevant character traits, applicants can show that they are not only qualified on paper, and could be a valuable asset in a work environment.
Don’t feel intimidated
Whether a resume is blank or several years old, avoid feeling intimidated by the resume making process. Once the basic experience and skills are collected, there are many online templates to spark more creative ideas and layouts.
“Once you start with one, no matter how blank it looks, you can visualize[the] focus on areas you need growth or experience in as well as realize you have done a lot more than you might have initially thought,” Leedham said.
Additionally, Career Services recommends limiting a resume to a single page. Having several pages of every volunteer activity, job and skill is unnecessary and makes resumes overly detailed.
“The average employer spends less than 30 seconds reviewing a student’s resume. Students can make their resumes easy for employers to read by limiting them to one page,” Eberle said.
With only one page to fill, writing a resume does not have to be something to dread or put off until the last minute. It is simply a forum for an applicant to showcase their best self to an employer.
Go to Career Services
Career Services can be a valuable on-campus tool for students who need any degree of help. In just 30 minutes, a trained career counselor can help improve a resume.
“Career Services helps students at every stage of the resume and cover letter construction process, whether you have no idea which information to include or you just need a quick second look at your resume or cover letter. We’ll look at your resume formatting to make sure that it’s clean, consistent and easy to read,” Eberle said.
By stopping in for a drop-in appointment or scheduling one through MustangJOBS, Cal Poly students can get professional help with their resume, while creating a personalized and creative finished product to hand to a future employer.
In just half an hour, a resume can go from bland to outstanding. By updating a resume and adjusting it for a specific position, applicants put themselves a step ahead of their peers. With a little effort and some insight from Career Services, any student may see an increase in their interviews as a result of their professional and unique resume.