By McLean Mills
As a college student, it’s punishing enough that a few grammatical mistakes here or there on your term paper can cost you high marks. However, when it comes to your resume, the stakes are even higher. Just one tiny mistake can mean the difference between securing an interview for your dream job and having your application completely ignored. So, with this much on the line here are 5 resume tips that you can use to perfect your resume.
- Use the power of the internet
The first thing you do every time you need to write a paper is probably open up a blank Word document and go from there. When it comes to your resume though, this probably isn’t your best bet. Instead, start by using the web to make things easier for yourself. Start by finding a well-designed professional resume template that you can download for free or use an online resume builder. Before actually writing the contents of your resume, read a few online samples first and even pull one up that you can reference. Once your resume is finished, consider asking an online community like Reddit’s to critique your resume. You can also get analytical feedback on sites like X and Y.
- Take advantage of LinkedIn
One of the biggest mistakes college students make as they search for their first full-time job is not using LinkedIn to their advantage. Not only does LinkedIn unlock a plethora of job opportunities you can apply to, it also gives you the ability to build a relationship with recruiters and hiring managers who are going to want to connect with you through LinkedIn.
Even if you want to apply to jobs the good old-fashioned way, a recent resume study has found that simply including an active LinkedIn profile on your resume is going to give a huge leg up over the applicants who don’t because it shows recruiters that you’re serious about your job search.
- Understand proper resume etiquette
Writing a resume is a lot different from writing a paper. There’s a lot of unwritten rules to resume writing that just don’t apply elsewhere. All your bullet points should start with a strong action verb, first person pronouns like “I” and “me” should never be used, bullet points should be kept to a couple of sentences tops, past tense should be used in almost all cases, one or two pages is preferred while three pages is too long, and the list of unwritten rules you should be made aware of goes on and on.
- Be smart when it comes to your academic achievements
As a general rule of thumb, only list your GPA if it’s higher than 3.0 on a typical 4.0 scale. If your major GPA is higher than your overall GPA, it would be wise to list that instead.
Another smart thing to do, especially if you don’t have a lot of work experience, is to list out any important courses you’ve taken that are relevant to the jobs you’re applying for.
- Get help if necessary
If English isn’t your first language or writing just isn’t your forte, don’t hurt your hiring chances by forcing yourself to write your own resume. Instead, get help. As a college student the first place you should really turn to is your college’s career center. If you have any family and friends that have found success writing their own resume, then turn to them for guidance as well. As a last resort, you can also turn to a resume writing service where professional resume writers can write your resume for you. However beware, not every company is going to do a good job, and an entire CNBC article has been written detailing what you should know before choosing a resume writing service.
- Keep unrelated experience to a minimal
It’s natural to want to include everything you’ve ever done or achieved on your resume, whether it be that you won your collegiate swimming competition or that you were a part of your college’s book club. However the issue is, hiring managers often don’t care. If you’re applying to a job as a financial analyst, being a good swimmer or a book worm proves nothing when it comes to your ability to analyze financial statements and predict the stock market. With that being the case, only briefly mention activities or work experience that are unrelated to the job and always put yourself in the employer’s shoes when writing your resume.
Byline: McLean Mills is a career coach and previously worked as a college career adviser and hiring manager for Coca Cola.