Writing a Great Internship or Job Resume

Selective focus shot of a resume
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Many college students procastinate when writing a resume simply because they are not sure exactly where to start. Freshmen and sophomore students may worry that they have limited information to include on a resume while seniors may worry that employers will not be sufficiently impressed by their academics and internships.

Start the Resume Strong

Since most employers will skim a resume in less than 10 seconds, applicants must immediately catch the attention of the reviewer to be shortlisted and selected for an interview. A combination of impressive content, attractive formatting, a strong mission statement, and clear bullet points that highlight what the employer is looking for are hallmarks of a strong resume. Most importantly, one resume does not fit all, and your resume should be tailored for each application.

At the top of your resume, include all of your personal information and provide a strong mission statement that highlights your professional goals. You can highlight pertinent information in a larger font to make it stand out.

Tailor Your Resume

Resumes tailored to the needs of the employer and that directly address the internship or job requirements are most likely to receive further consideration. Show your knowledge of the relevant industry, and showcase your skills and accomplishments that are a good match for the employer.

Craft a "Relevant Experience" section on your resume that is just that, relevant to the job or internship to which you are applying, and include everything you have done in that area - coursework, jobs, internships, volunteer experiences, community service projects.

Use Concise Language

Be specific in describing your experiences. Avoid clichés such as “responsibilities or duties included” on the resume, and get to the point by concisely describing your experience. Begin each phrase with an action verb (assisted, performed, created), avoid the use of personal pronouns (I, me, you, they, their) and articles (a, an, the), and use a consistent tense.

Proofread Your Resume

Any spelling or grammatical errors are likely to eliminate your application from further consideration. A resume is one of the most important documents you will write and, as such, it requires a high level of attention to detail. How you approach your resume is an indicator of how you will approach your role as an intern or employee. Ask others, including professionals and career counselors, to review your resume before sending it out.

Be Honest

Most employers perform background and reference checks. If you fabricate or embellish information, an employer will find out, and you will not be considered. Focus on your strengths and find creative ways to tackle any shortcomings. Think about what makes you unique and why that could be of benefit to an employer - that one attribute might be what attracts a recruiter's attention.

Quantify Your Successes and Achievements

Your value to an employer is validated by indicators of success. For example, writing “increased sales on the previous year by 30 percent” gives employers a tangible example of your capabilities. If you can, quantify your achievements using dollar amounts, percentages, and achievements against set targets.

Place Your Degree at The Top of Your Resume

As a student or new graduate, include your education immediately following the heading on your resume because this has been your focus most recently. After a few years in the workforce, list your degrees or education section to the bottom of your resume. Include the name and location of the college or university you attended along with your degree, major/minor, grade point average (if it is high), honors and awards, and anything else that would show your dedication and achievement during your studies.

Include References and a Professional Portfolio

Often references are not submitted until the employer asks for them. More recently, many employers who prefer to have references and portfolios (if applicable) submitted along with the resume. When asking for a reference, be sure to ask the person if they feel they know you well enough to supply an excellent reference. You can create a second page to include with your resume that lists your references name, title, organization, phone, and email address. Be sure to ask permission before submitting the names of any references.

Use an Attractive Format

Don't pack too much information into your resume because your strengths will be lost in the text. Use the cover letter to add further information. If your resume looks too sparse, try adding coursework, volunteer work, co-curricular, or any specialized skills such as computer savviness or a foreign language. As a college student, keep your resume to one page.