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Student Résumés: A Guide

Students are often worried about writing a résumé and it’s not uncommon to struggle with the task. But it doesn’t have to be intimidating if you understand the goal of your résumé - to generate interest and interviews. It doesn’t have to get you a job and it doesn’t need to cover your life history. It simply has to pique the interest of the reader and answer the only question he cares about: will this candidate add value to my company?

If you focus your résumé on answering this question effectively, employers will be interested to meet with you. It really is that simple.

Of course, in order to demonstrate your value, you need to know what potential employers are looking for. Start by researching job postings that interest you. Look for frequently-mentioned requirements. Ask experienced professionals what they consider important when they make hiring decisions. Read professional publications and websites related to your target industry. Once you know what is important to employers you can create target your résumé to address those issues.

Many students and recent graduates worry that they don’t have enough experience to create a compelling résumé. Don’t be concerned. Once you start to really think about your background, you’ll be surprised at what you can talk about. The content of your résumé will be determined by your own unique experiences, skills and background but – as a general guideline – you should include:

  • Positive personal characteristics
  • Technical and computer skills
  • Coursework relevant to your desired profession
  • Educational accomplishments (include your GPA if it’s over 3.0).
  • Skills and experience gained during internships or summer jobs
  • Other related accomplishments (design awards, recognition, winning competitions etc.)
  • Work History (include unpaid work if it relates to your target positions).

The key is to emphasize those things that demonstrate how you will add value and to leave out those things that don’t.

Many people are surprised to learn that résumé design is just as important as content, but it’s absolutely true. Research suggests that your résumé has less than 20 seconds to make the right impression, so it must be eye-catching and easy to read. To get ideas for layout and structure, go to the library and study the résumé books specifically written for students. All contain examples of professionally-written résumés and will help you decide on the best approach. Don’t use one of the pre-loaded MS Word templates. There is no better way to make sure you look like everyone else!

As you work on your résumé, bear in mind your reader’s basic concern: will this candidate add value? If you answer effectively by highlighting relevant skills, personal characteristics and accomplishments, your résumé will open the right doors and generate interviews.

by Louise Fletcher
www.blueskyresumes.com

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