I always ask recruiters what they look for on résumés — do they like an objective statement? Do they want to see a skills section? Is there a particular format they prefer?
The only common answer is misspelled words, grammatical errors and inconsistent formatting will eliminate you from the applicant pool. Otherwise, they are looking for transferable skills and accomplishments related to the position — the best way to showcase those varies.
Your résumé and cover letter are the first impressions a recruiter has of you, so make sure it is an impression of a person who wants that company’s specific opportunity. Do your research and target your application materials to them specifically. Yes, that means one résumé will not work for all applications and it takes time and effort to stand out above the crowd. No one said this would be easy, but it certainly is important.
How do you target your résumé? Employers want to know you want their internship or job, not just any internship or job. Look at the job description and pull out key words used to describe the position. Use those same words to describe your relevant experiences.
Along with meeting the minimum qualifications listed for the position, companies look for demonstrated leadership, communication, teamwork and critical thinking skills. You cannot just tell them you have those skills — you have to give solid examples of how you have used them successfully. These are the bullet points you include in the sections of your résumé.
Your skills can come from paid jobs, volunteer positions, organizational involvement, athletic teams, etc. Where you gained the transferable skills is not the important part — it is that you have developed them. Do not just include a bullet point that you were Vice President of Professional Development for your organization. What did you do in that role? What were your successes? For example, a bullet might be, “Collaborated with faculty, employers, and alumni to provide weekly professional development programs for membership of 50.” If you are a member of the Truman State Art Club, include what you did with the organization. It might be, “Initiated partnership with Kirksville Arts Association to help fund local activities that initiate interest in art and design, including a craft show and a traveling theatre company.”
Remember your résumé is a marketing tool to market you. The goal is to move you forward in the recruiting process, which means an interview.
The Career Center website has great resources available to help you get started and résumé critiques can be done on a walk-in basis, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Truman will host a large number of recruiters in the SUB on Wed., Feb. 25 at the campus-wide Career & Grad School Expo. Watch for upcoming information, and if you have questions, please come by the Career Center on the third floor of the SUB.
Polly Matteson is the Assistant Director for the Truman State Career Center