Career Planning

Is your student ready for the job market? 8 great resumé tips

By Gale Dunlap

It may be time for your student to get ready for the job market — whether that’s a summer job, an internship, or his or her first professional job.

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High School Parent | College Parent

Having a good resumé is key to advancing the job search process. A resumé is just a piece of paper (or an image on a screen) and it alone can’t help your student get hired. But with a strong resumé tailored to the job description, your student has a much better chance of landing a personal interview — and that is the resumé’s most important goal. Why? Because it’s usually the personal interview that determines if a candidate is offered a position.

Here are guidelines for crafting a resumé that will catch the attention of prospective employers:

1. Keep it short

One page is ideal, but no more than 1.5 pages. Multiple studies have shown that the average reader spends less than six seconds reading a resumé. And remember, a resumé is a snapshot of a person’s background not an encyclopedia.

2. Tailor it

For every job your student applies for, she needs to adjust her resumé. One resumé does not fit all job openings. She should carefully read the job description to identify the skills the employer is seeking. After reviewing the specific job, she should rework her resumé to highlight those skills and put them at the top of her resumé where they’ll be noted immediately. Reworking a resumé takes minutes on a computer and is well worth the time.

3. Look professional

Don’t get fancy. No colored paper, icons or ornate typeface — good old Times Roman font is just fine. Be sure there is adequate white space so the resumé doesn’t appear crowded with type. It should be clean, clear and inviting.

4. Use bullets

It’s perfectly acceptable not to use complete sentences in a resumé. Bullets allow the writer to provide more information in less space.

5. Quantify when possible

Your student should not just list past job responsibilities. She needs to emphasize her accomplishments and quantify them when possible. For example, “commended by management for most closed business” or “as project leader, my team filled 1,000 backpacks for underprivileged kids vs. last year’s record of 750 backpacks.”

6. Keep it simple

Too much information detracts from the message. Keep it clear, focused and concise.

7. Never lie, overstate or embellish

Your student’s honesty and integrity are priceless assets. It can be tempting to claim a skill she doesn’t have, or exaggerate the value of an experience, but it is not worth it.

8. Proofread!

Check for typos, misspellings and grammatical errors, then check again. If your student has any of these on her resumé, it should be an automatic disqualification. A person who is careless with a resumé may be careless on the job.

If your student keeps these points in mind, she will end up with a sharp, effective resumé. Remind her always to consider the employer’s needs. What is the employer looking for? In what ways does your student’s experience and skills help solve the employer’s problem? This is called having a marketing perspective and it will serve your student well throughout her job search.

Summing it up: Top 3 Tips

Keep it short, 1.5 pages max.
Tailor it for every job opening.
Quantify your accomplishments when possible.

About the Author:

Gale Dunlap is president of Standout Strategies, a company that helps job seekers and entrepreneurs market themselves more effectively. Gale advises clients in person or via Skype and particularly enjoys working with college students and recent grads.

Did you enjoy reading this article? Sign up for UniversityParent’s weekly eNewsletter and purchase the Guide to Supporting Your Student’s Freshman Year for additional tips, insight, and to help your college student succeed. You may also add to the discussion and get feedback from fellow college parents by joining our Community Forum and College Parents’ Facebook group.

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