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Student Career Planning: Build an Awesome Resume

Students: Starting to think about your future career? The first step is to prepare a stellar resume that will help you get your foot in the door anywhere that you apply. Read on for tips on building an awesome resume.

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The Art of Resume Writing

One of the most important parts of job hunting is having a strong resume. You'll make a first impression on prospective employees with your resume before you even meet them. Most employers will skim your resume and make a snap judgment about you before even reading it a second time, so the document should be clear, well-organized and designed to quickly draw attention to your relevant strengths.

Before you begin, here are a few things to consider:

Layout

There's no one right way to design your resume, but it is important to take layout into consideration. Think about your target audience - an artist's resume should probably look different than a computer scientist's - and make sure that your headers, spacing and alignment emphasize the points they'll want to see. Avoid fonts that are difficult to read or the overuse of bold, italics or all-caps. It's also important to make sure that each element is consistent throughout the document.

Organization

It's important that your resume is carefully organized so that employers can get information from it quickly and easily. Before you begin putting your resume together, write down information like your education, employment history, awards and skills so that you can identify the best way to organize all the information. Be sure to think about what will be most important to the specific jobs to which you plan to apply.

Resume Elements

Here are the key things that should be included on all resumes:

  • Contact information: Name, address, phone number, email and, if you have one, website.
  • Education: List your postsecondary degrees or vocational training programs, starting with the most recent. Include the name of each institution and, if relevant, thesis information.
  • Selected work experience: Include all internships and past work experiences that are relevant to the specific job, starting with the most recent. Remember that this is not an exhaustive list: Omit anything that won't be of interest to this specific employer.
  • Awards and honors: If you've received any academic or professional awards or honors, list them in reverse chronological order.
  • Associations and activities: If you were involved in any relevant student or professional organizations, or completed activities like student government, include them here.
  • Skills: Outline any relevant skills that aren't spelled out in other sections, such as experience in specific computer programs or foreign languages. If some of these skills are important qualifications for the job, consider putting this section near the top of your resume.

Before You Send

Before you label that resume 'done,' check out these final tips:

Be concise.

Keep sentences brief and to the point, don't include paragraphs longer than four lines and use indented or bulleted phrases wherever appropriate.

Write professionally.

Avoid 'I' statements, use simple terms instead of jargon and back up your statements with specific quantities or facts wherever you can. It's also important to focus on professional skills rather than hobbies or avocations.

Proofread, proofread, proofread.

Mistakes in spelling, grammar or punctuation will immediately tell your employer that you're sloppy and unprofessional. Don't rely on your word processor's spell check - read your resume over yourself several times and, if possible, ask someone else to lay eyes on it too.

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