10 Steps Toward Your Best Resume

Introduction


No matter your major or your post-grad plans, having a solid resume under your belt is a major must-have. A clear, concise, and eye-catching resume will set you apart from the other students and graduates in your class and make getting in the door for an interview easier. We know that starting a resume or remodeling one you already have can be a confusing and intimidating task-- you may receive conflicting advice or be totally unsure of where to start!


But, resumes don’t have to be difficult. In this article, we’ll go over 10 easy steps you can take to craft a resume that will wow any potential employer!




1. What’s in a Resume?


There are several components that every resume should include, no matter your field. These items include:

  • Your Name

  • Contact Information

  • Objective

  • Academic History

  • Professional Experiences

  • Skills and Certifications

  • Organizations and Leadership Experience (optional)

These components should be listed in roughly the order shown above.




2. Introduce Yourself with Style


In the section containing your contact information, be sure to include your phone number, e-mail address, permanent address, and a website url for any websites containing your work or that you own. Furthermore, to clarify, your objective is a short summary of the kind of position or career path you are seeking. An example of this statement could be “Sophomore at Virginia Tech with experience in corporate finance looking to start a career in financial consulting.” Your academic history should list the name of your university or college, the school’s location, your expected/obtained degree, your major and minor, your year of graduation, and your cumulative GPA.




3. Include Powerful Professional Experience


Professional experience will likely be the longest section of your resume. There, you will list the various job titles you have held and their respective places of business, along with a short bulleted description of your duties. You can use your official job description to help supplement that section. Use strong verbs to introduce each of your responsibilities and focus on accomplishments, rather than tasks. Using figures and numbers to help convey your successes is key, as well. An example of one of these descriptions would be, “Directed social media strategy to increase user engagement by 20%.” And, if you have only worked for yourself or taken on side hostels, you can certainly list those experiences as well.




4. Stand Out with Organizational Experiences


The final section is optional, but highly recommended, especially if you have experience leading a team with goals or responsibilities relevant to the position you want. Just be sure the skills are at least somewhat relevant to the job you want, i.e. maybe not “excels at playing the kazoo.” A good way to discover what skills employers are looking for is to pay attention to the skills and tasks listed in job descriptions and including those on your resume that you have and that fit what employers want.






5. Keep the Design Clean


With regards to the design of your resume, a simple and clean format with crisp fonts is preferred. Utilizing headers, borders, and dividers for sections can provide a more logical and cohesive flow. Bolding or underlining important information, like your name and contact information and section headers can draw the eye towards what matters most.




6. Be Specific About Fonts and Margins


The main font should remain between 10 and 12 points, while header fonts can be anywhere from 12-14 points. Margins should be one-inch in width and text should be kept aligned to the left. Appropriate fonts include Avenir, Calibri, Helvetica, and Georgia, among others. Anything readable, easily copied, and clean is acceptable.




7. Make it Short and Sweet


Your resume should be no more than one page long-- this may require some to trim down and decide what is most important. A study has even shown that one page resumes have a better chance of securing an interview than two-page resumes! While the layout should always remain consistent, you are free to change the content of your resume to fit the job you are applying for.




8. Add Sparkle with Some Extras


At the bottom of your resume, you can include a variety of other information. Any further skills, certifications of training, awards, published writings, hobbies (especially if it involves special skills), languages, or volunteer work that may be relevant or transferable to the position are acceptable. Extra information should add value to your resume, so be judicious about what you include! They can expand on work experiences, demonstrate certain characteristics, and showcase professional development. And, if there is not enough room on your resume, consider adding a link to a portfolio or a separate piece of proof.




9. Differentiate Your Skills


Your skills help set you apart from other similar applicants-- and the skills themselves can be differentiated from each other! There are hard skills and soft skills; hard skills are “teachable abilities” that are usually measurable; soft skills are more emotionally and socially-oriented and are subjective in nature. Your skills can also be transferable, meaning they’re broad in nature-- like teamwork or time management- or specific to the job at hand. Job specific skills are often learned in career training programs, while transferable skills are acquired over time across positions. Pick and choose a mix of these types of skills to make up the skills section of your resume!




10. Don’t Forget to Proofread

Of course, having grammatical and spelling errors in your resume would not look very professional. Using a spellchecker is a good idea, but nothing beats reviewing it yourself or having a different pair of eyes look it over. Reading your resume aloud to yourself will give you a good idea of the pace of how someone else may view your paper. Dot your i’s and cross your t’s before you submit anything!


Conclusion


While writing a resume may seem complicated at first, it only takes a few simple steps. Everyone can create a neat and orderly resume outlining your education, experiences, and abilities. So, if you don’t have a resume already, or if you’re looking to rework the one you have-- get going! A killer resume doesn’t write itself.


By Lauren Miles