Student Resume Template - Recruiter Tips
Ringo Nishioka is a cofounder of Career Tracker and has over two decades of hiring and recruiting experience. These are his resume tips. Check out the Career Tracker Blog for more resume tips.
Check out the Career Tracker Blog for more resume tips.
Most of us haven’t had a class on how to write a resume. Some of us have been fortunate to have a professor or a business group bring in a recruiter for an hour or two. But trust us, a couple of hours just isn’t enough time to get into the nuance that will make a difference in your resume. Two hours will only cover the basics. We will cover the rest.
Why the Career Tracker resume works for Students
As a student, your generation is the most connected generation in the history of the world. You aren’t just familiar with technology; you were born with technology. Within the workforce, your superpower will be that you not only know where to find new information, you know how to implement that information. You are a constant learner and hungry for knowledge. As more technology and automation is introduced into the workplace, companies need candidates with the ability to learn and adapt in an ever-changing technology age. We are going to let the hiring company know how familiar you are with new technologies and how quickly you learn.
Like most students we don’t have much work experience. This is not only expected it is what hiring companies are looking for. Below are two specific situations where students are recruited.
- Internships. Internships are great recruiting tools for hiring companies. The hope is that as an intern, you will enjoy your time enough that you will want to come back as a Full Time Employee when you graduate.
- Entry Level Position. Hiring companies hire entry level positions all the time. Hiring companies are looking for candidates who are high on potential, have great attitudes and someone who can do well in the training program. Companies have complicated tasks and relatively easy tasks they need accomplished. They don’t want to pay an experienced employee a high wage to tackle a less complicated task. That is where you as an entry level candidate is required.
Our Resume Builder will highlight and position your potential and attitude, so you are a perfect fit. You are looking to get your foot in the door and put in the hard work. You are probably applying for different roles throughout different industries. It is imperative that we cater each resume to the job description. No two entry level positions or internships are not created equal. Because no two positions are the same, it is impossible for any single resume to match more than one job descriptions.
It’s a new era with new technology and new hiring methods. Our application methods will keep you ahead of the game.
Throw out everything you think you know or learned about professional resume writing. Our bet is that the person who provided you with these resume writing tips doesn't have the relevant experience. They may have the title of a career counselor or resume coach, but did they actually hire hundreds of employees and decline thousands more? Was their experience gained in the era of technology and online applications?
The way you are going to stand out as a candidate is to adapt and customize your resume for each new job posting. This way we can maximize our chances to match all the qualities the hiring manager is looking for. A vast majority of candidates use a single resume to apply for all jobs. A single resume is a good starting point, but one resume isn’t going to be a solid match for all of the jobs we apply to in the various industries. We aren’t going to re-create the resume from scratch, we are going to automate the customization of your resume to match the job.
Header Section Tips
The most important section of your resume
Professional recruiters know that the most important section of your resume is the top half of the first page. When they craft their resume, they take full advantage of this important section. When they craft their resume, they take full advantage of this important section. This is the first section of your resume that will appear on the reader’s monitor or laptop screen, so it needs to pack a punch to separate you from the chaff. The goal is to effectively convey as much relevant information as we can in as little time as possible. This information must be relevant to the job description. This is the top 1/2 of your first page.
Career Tracker explains step by step how to maximize the top half of the first page. We then go on to explain how to write your entire document for each stage of the resume review. The top 1/2 of the first page of your resume is critical to establish in the readers mind that you are a viable candidate.
Key Takeaway: Getting the top half of the first page of your resume is critical and will put the reader in the mindset that you the right candidate.
This is a secret that only professional recruiters understand. If you have a name that is hard to pronounce or spell, adding a mainstream “nickname” will make it easier for hiring companies to call you. If the recruiter doesn’t know how to pronounce your name or has questions about your name, John Doe, will receive the call. My name is Takahashi Nishioka, but on my resume, I go by Takahashi “Joey” Nishioka or Joey Nishioka.
Key Takeaway: Play the game and maximize your chances. Your name and its implications will make a difference. If the recruiter has is trying to figure out how to say Takahashi Nishioka and is also reviewing Johnny Smith’s resume, guess who has a higher probability of getting the call.
If you have an advanced degree or designation that is relevant to the desired job, list it after your name at the top of your professional resume. Professional recruiters know that the most important section of your resume is the top half of the first page. When they craft their resume, they take full advantage of this important section. A Masters, Doctorate, CPA, CPCU, MCSE, will all identify you as a qualifier within the first-millisecond of looking at your resume. This is especially true when your designation is a preferred or required qualification.
John Smith, MBA
If your designation is not related to the position you are applying for, list your designation in the Education section. For example, if you are applying for a position working on computers, do not list your CPA at the top of the resume. The two are not aligned and the CPA designation will actually just dilute your computer knowledge brand.
If we are applying for an entry-level position, do not list your Ph.D. The hiring manager will assume we are over-qualified.
If you are still in school and expecting an applicable “Designation” like an MBA, list this in the education section at the end of your resume with your “expected graduation date”. This allows the hiring manager to understand you are working on the degree.
Key Takeaway: Designations can immediately put the reader in the right frame of mind, or they can turn them off towards the rest of the document.
A professional recruiter will add the title of the position they are applying for as part of your contact information. This is our first opportunity to put the reader into the mindset that you are who they are looking for. Use the hiring company’s language. If you were a Client Service Representative at your last position and you are applying for a Customer Service Representative position, enter Customer Service Representative.
Your email should be a contemporary email service provider. Gmail is preferred. In fact, just create a Gmail account for your job hunt. You don’t have to share it with your network. Yahoo, AOL, Comcast or anything that was cool in the late 90s indicates that you are not current. Your college email address is acceptable for recent graduates and current students only.
A professional recruiter will avoid emails that hint to innuendo or anything potentially immature. We are going to be hired for a real job where there is real responsibility. Recruiters don’t want to reach out to a HotBod95@gmail.com.
Try to use an email with a standard format like FirstName.LastName@gmail.com. Avoid using your birth year as this can be used to assume age. We want to be hired or declined based on our qualifications. We also like email like JohnnySmithAccountant1@gmail.com
Website / LinkedIn / Github / Etc
Professional recruiters know that hyperlinks to social media replaces the physical address. Show off your accomplishments, side projects, portfolio and code samples by linking your LinkedIn, GitHub, or personal website. You want to make it as easy as possible for the reader to become more engaged with you. Making it easy to view your picture, your code, and your work will create a higher level of engagement. If your website or portfolio is not related to the position, list this information at the end of the resume under “Personal Interests”. Here, we break down professionalizing your LinkedIn URL.
Avoid including your physical address. Companies no longer send literature or confirmation notes to candidates anymore. Furthermore, your address can only be used against your candidacy. If you are applying for a position out of state or in an area where there will be a long commute, we make it easy for the hiring manager to review a local candidate. Hiring managers don’t want complications so we want to make it easy.
Key Takeaway: Links are the new contact information. Include them and ditch the physical address.
Summary Section Tips
Section Title that appears on your Resume
Titles such as Professional Summary, Summary, Qualifications are appropriate for this section. This “Section Title” will introduce your 2-3 sentence summary of who you are professionally. Additionally, you can list your industry. So if you are a Project Manager, it would be appropriate to list “Project Manager Leader” in this section.
Need help with your Summary Statement?
Professional recruiters will write their summary for a reader who is skimming their document. Because of this, they will only deliver what the reader is looking for so limit your professional summary to just 2-3 sentences. Only when you pass this initial test, will your resume will receive more eyeball time. It is critical to understand that at this stage resumes are not read line by line. We need to write this for a skimming reader so limit your professional summary to just 2-3 sentences.
The goal here is to position yourself as someone that answers the summary section and the first few bullets of the job description. The first few bullets are the qualities that really matter. If we can quickly and clearly match these first few bullets, we will get a free extra play AKA, more eyeball time on our resume. This should not be an all-encompassing description of your skills.
Don’t worry, a professional recruiter can gleam a lot of information in 2-3 seconds. Frankly, because so many resumes are not focused on the job description, the few that are, really stick out. It’s not that a recruiter can read an entire resume in 2-3 seconds. A professional recruiter can tell if a candidate is an initial fit or not a fit to make it to the next round in 2 seconds. The key to this section and what will set the tone for the entire resume is simply stating you are the person the hiring manager is looking for.
When a recruiter writes their resume, they won’t use an Objective Statement. We like Professional Summary Statements over Objective Statements. They can convey the same message, without negotiating against ourselves. Summary Statements simply explain who we are. An Objective is something we are striving for.
Summary statementsgenerally start with, “I am a...“
Objective statements contain the language: “I hope to become...” or “My goal is to join a company as a...”
The summary statement declares who the candidate is. It doesn't betray a lack of qualifications by stating what the candidate hopes to become.
The key to this section and what will set the tone for the entire resume is simply stating you are the person the hiring manager is looking for. We provide two examples below:
- Student in school looking for an internship
- Recent graduate
Student looking for an internship
The following example is for a candidate with no actual job experience. This candidate is looking for an internship following their junior or senior year. So even with little or no experience, we can make a statement about WHO we are vs. WHAT we want to become:
“I am a junior at the University of Washington studying computer science through the Paul G. Allen School. I am proficient in Java and have recently become fascinated with data structures and parallelism. I have experience with C, Git version control, and Linux command line."
“I am a junior at the University of Washington studying finance and accounting. I am very comfortable with spreadsheets and am a power Excel user. I have experience with data entry, accounts receivable and accounts payable.”
Who vs. “Hope to be”
This states who you are as the candidate. This doesn’t betray a lack of qualifications by stating what you want to become.
The "Hope to be" version of the above statement would probably read:
“I am a junior at the University of Washington studying computer science through the Paul G. Allen School. (1) I hope to find a position that will allow me to apply my technical abilities and (2) to supplement my coursework with hands-on experience. (4) I am proficient in Java and (3) have recently taken a course on data structures and parallelism. I also have experience with C, Git version control, and Linux command line. (4) I am a hard worker.
- Makes a statement that the candidate "isn't there yet". They are "trying to be a developer" vs. "They are a developer".
- Mentions supplementing coursework and implies we have no real “hands-on experience”
- Makes it obvious to a recruiter that this person only has a single class on these topics so they are not an expert and will need to be trained. (The hiring manager knows we are not an expert, we are looking for an intern after all. But this doesn't mean we need to make it obvious!)
- It provides an opinion. This is not our call; this is the manager's call.
At the end of the day, the “Hope to be” candidate will not be called in for an interview. The candidate unknowingly put the recruiter into a skeptical frame of mind. As an aside, we’re certainly not telling you to embellish or fib your resume, but you need to position yourself properly. In this way, you will have the opportunity to explain any perceived shortcomings during an interview. You have to swing to get on base!
As a professional just starting your career, you may have held a number of positions through school and right after school. These positions and titles are often unrelated. We could have held the position of a dishwasher, babysitter and worked retail through high school. We may have had an internship or two. In college we took what part time jobs we could find to help pay for school. Again, unrelated. Stating who you are will set you apart and put the reader in the right frame of mind to review the rest of your document.
EG: Applying for a customer service position or accounting position? Even with unrelated experience, the first sentence of your summary statement could start with something like the following:
“I am obsessed with customer service and developed my skills in many service-oriented industries including but not limited to landscaping and childcare.” (This summary can tie disparate experience together and focus the reader on the quality they are looking for.)
“I am a constant student of accounting with a degree in finance and accounting. I have 1 year of (cash register/bank teller/accounts payable) experience and a power user of Excel. I have also had exposure to accounting systems.”
Many resumes, especially those for entry level positions introduce their qualifications with an Objective Statement. These statements read something like:
“I am (1) looking for a position where I can use my skills and background in XYZ to (2) grow my career."
The Objective Statement is then concluded with a description of the candidate’s character:
“I am a (3) hard worker that functions well on teams and as an individual contributor.”
So the finished product looks something like:
“I am (1) looking for a position where I can use my skills and background in XYZ where (2) I can grow my career. I am a (3) hard worker that functions well on teams and as an individual contributor.”
This format puts the recruiter into a very specific frame of mind towards the candidate:
- You are (1) "Looking for", which implies that you are "not already" a qualified candidate. It is a subtle difference, but remember, this is the first sentence that is being read because it is at the top of your resume. We are trying to build momentum! We can improve this sentence by writing it as an "I am a. . . " vs. "I am looking for. . . " When we start the Summary statement with "I am", there is less of an implication that the company doesn't have to spend their time and resources training you up as long or as in-depth.
- These statements are all about the candidate. This candidate is stating what is in it for them. “Where I can grow my career” is a selfish statement which doesn't prove to the hiring company why the candidate is desirable from the company's perspective. This candidate isn’t really offering services.
- Anything that describes the candidate as a "hard worker", "responsible", "team player" is an opinion from the candidate, about the candidate. This is a conclusion the hiring manager should make, because the manager may have a very different version of "hard worker". We don't want to put the manager into a situation where they are thinking. . . "You think you are a hard worker? I have folks on the team working 70 hours a week!" or, "You think you are a team player? I have NCAA champions working in this department. Those are literally team players!"
The above are written in direct response to the first few bullets in the job description. Remember, resumes are skimmed, not read. The goal is to generate a phone call, not an offer letter. The shorter the better.
Companies want to hire candidates that can jump in and contribute as quickly as possible. We know that companies are going to have to train a candidate, but let's not state the obvious.
Key Takeaway: Anything you can do to make a statement vs. hint at our objective is a good thing. State who you are and what you offer, not what you hope to be.
Need help selecting Skills?
Professional recruiters know that resumes are very rarely read line-by-line on the first review so they write their resume for the skimming reader. In fact, resumes are never read line-by-line…ever. Remember, your resume only receives a few seconds of eyeball time before a decision is made to recycle, or to give it a second longer glance and a (phone call).
Remember, resumes are skimmed, not read. The goal is to generate a phone call, not an offer letter.
So, we want to make sure that the skills we list have the most impact possible. Our tip: limit the number of skill sets listed at the top of a resume to a total of 4.
Sadly, in recent years some artists have tried to mix country music and hip-hop together at the detriment of both genres. (Although we do like Kid Rock and his working man's attitude and work ethic! Guy knows how to play like five instruments.) In this instance, combining hip-hop and country actually just made a confusing mess. It's the same thing with your Skills section bullets. Use your hip hop bullets for the hip-hop job and the country music bullets for the country job. And if you happen to like hip hop and country together, helping you is unfortunately outside the scope of our mission.
Instead of trying to cover as many bases as you can with your resume, you want to focus on, and cover the specific bases that the job description is asking for. Most resumes try to cover everything. This is why we see resumes listing 10 – 15 skillsets. It’s tempting, we know. But as impressive as it is, the hiring manager will not care if you are a Salesforce expert if you’re applying for a middle school math teacher job.
Below are skill sets we have taken from a resume for someone with experience in marketing:
"Social Media, Social Media Implementation, Customer Service, Market Research, Presentations, Case Studies, Data Analytics, Event Planning, Advertising, Client Communications."
The above skills list, while commendable, is overkill. A recruiter will not be able to easily pick out the few skill sets they are looking for in the two seconds an average resume receives. We would be better served to look at the job description and find the 3-5 skill sets the hiring manager is really looking for. If you have skills that are close or match them exactly, list them! Write them on your resume in the exact same words that they are listed in the job description. Again, make it as easy on the recruiter as possible.
So, the Career Tracker best practices resume would only list 3-4 primary skill sets that are pulled directly from the top bullets in the job description:
The above skills list, while commendable, is overkill. A recruiter will not be able to easily pick out the top few skillsets they are looking for in the two seconds an average resume receives. Skills listed here assume that we are “skillful” in these areas. As students, we don’t realistically have the experience to gain skills in this many various areas. We may have taken a class, or have a keen interest, but that isn’t job experience in the hiring managers mind.
We would be better served to look at the job description and find the 2-3 skill sets the hiring manager is really looking for. If you have skills that are close or match them exactly, list them! Write them on your resume in the exact same words that they are listed in the job description. Again, make it as easy on the recruiter as possible to recognize a match. Don’t hope they will infer.
So, the Career Tracker best practices resume would only list 6 primary skill sets that are pulled directly from the top bullets in the job description:
"Social Media – Market Research – Case Studies – Lead Gen"
The above matches the job descriptions preferred skill sets and makes it easy for the recruiter to digest, get excited and stay tuned in to your resume. Congrats, you just bought yourself 10 more seconds in the resume engagement game!
If we have a targeted Professional Summary Statement reinforced by just a few skills, we present ourselves as a candidate that is a perfect fit, vs. a jack-of-all-trades that may be able to do the job, but not as well as the other candidate who has the exact skills. You will also come across as passionate and focused on a few skills vs. someone who would “do the job not because I want to, but because I have to”.
Key Takeaway: Present yourself as the perfect fit vs. a jack-of-all-trades thinking you are earning bonus points. If the skill isn’t listed in the job description, it isn’t important. Don’t dilute your brand with irrelevant or sub-optimal skillsets.
Experience Section Tips
Remember that the hiring company is looking for someone with a lot of potential and little or no experience. You are bringing potential, the ability to be trained and overcome obstacles in the workplace with the right attitude. If the hiring company wanted 3-5 years of experience, they would have listed this in the job description. If the company does want 5 years of experience, we need to find another job description.
The way we show potential is showing a track record of success by describing yourself quantitatively, not qualitatively. Avoid describing yourself as a hard worker which is a qualitative description.
Describe this Employer / Company
Most resumes relate how the candidate's experience is relevant to the job description. When professional recruiters apply for a position, they take advantage of every secret they know. One secret to stand out from other candidates is to list how the company we worked for is relevant to the job description and/or the hiring company. Yes, we’ve summarized our experience from prior jobs with specific bulleted accomplishments. That’s a good start. Professional recruiters also know there is an opportunity to explain how the company is related to the job of interest.
If our prior experience was with Acme Retail, the reader will have no idea what kind of company Acme Consulting is outside of “Consulting”. If the title was Acme Accounting, the reader would understand you were working for an accounting firm and if you are looking for a job in accounting, this makes sense. You want to include a one or two sentence description of how your prior company is related to the job of interest because the reader may not be familiar with Acme Consulting. The goal is two-fold:
- Provide background and perspective on our prior employer because the reader may not be familiar with Acme Consulting. If Acme Consulting is not a household name, the reader won’t have perspective.
- Relate the experience we had with Acme Consulting to the job we are applying for. What industry? How large? Where are the clients located? How many employees? A private company or public company? We want to highlight the qualities that our prior company and our company of interest have in common.
An average company experience section may look like:
Customer Sales Representative
Industrial Retail Inc
- An accomplishment that matches job description 1
- An accomplishment that matches job description 2
- An accomplishment that matches job description 3
June 2015 - August 2018
This is fine, but adding a description can provide more context:
Customer Sales Representative
Industrial Retail Inc
Industrial Retail is a retail shop specializing in workwear and uniforms for business and service providers.
- An accomplishment that matches job description 1
- An accomplishment that matches job description 2
- An accomplishment that matches job description 3
June 2015 - August 2018
If you worked in a big Fortune 100 company, then include a description of the product, service or department where you worked. Explaining that I worked at Amazon doesn’t mean much. Saying I worked with Amazon’s Alexa group and a few relevant facts about specific Alexa properties will put your experience into perspective.
A good place to start for this section is the “About” section of the company’s website.
Key Takeaway: Make it easy on the recruiter to understand not only how your experience is relevant but why the company you worked with is also relevant. You can do this by adding a short description below each company, tailored specifically to the role you’re applying for.
List your duties and accomplishments (try to match them to the job description for which you are applying)
We want to maximize credibility with what the hiring manager is going to see in our resume. We also want to show that we have continuously advanced our career. This gives the indication we are constant learners and adding value over time. Hiring managers don't want to hire employees that remain stagnant.
Professional recruiters know that hiring managers want to hire candidates that progress their careers. One way we can show career progression is to focus on the experience that is most recent and therefore probably more relevant.
Caveat: If you don’t have that much experience (e.g., you’re only a few years out of school, or you’ve only had 2-3 jobs) don’t feel pressure to unnecessarily compress your experience section, which could actually hurt you. You’re better off listing all of your experience because, 1) it’s easy to fit it on a one-page resume, and 2) your biggest obstacle is probably demonstrating you have enough years of experience.
To demonstrate career progression, use a simple, clear format like the following:
Most recent job (Lead Server)
2016 – present
- Accomplishment 1
- Accomplishment 2
- Accomplishment 3
- Accomplishment 4
Last Job (Fast Food Cashier)
2014 - 2016
- Accomplishment 1
- Accomplishment 2
- Accomplishment 3
Two Jobs Ago (Mowed Lawns)
2012 – 2014
- Accomplishment 1
- Accomplishment 2
This format shows clear title improvements, and the number of accomplishments increases with each more recent position showing career progression. Remember, we are going to be hired for what we did most recently, not what we did 8 years ago.
Key Takeaway: List more accomplishments in your most recent experience and fewer accomplishments under your older experience to visually demonstrate career progression.
Credibility can be added to your resume by quantifying your accomplishments. Professional recruiters know their personal opinion on their skill holds little water. They know the way to build credibility on their own resume is to use data to show results. Credibility can be added to your resume by quantifying your accomplishments. We do this by adding numbers to your resume wherever possible.
We want to maximize what the hiring manager is going to see when they pull our experience up on their screen. We also want to show that we have continuously advanced our career. This gives the indication we are constant learners and adding value over time. Hiring managers don't want to hire employees that remain stagnant.
Credibility can be added to your resume by quantifying your accomplishments. We want to add numbers to your resume as where possible. EG: You didn’t just mow lawns, you mowed 75 lawns during the summer working 8 hours a day. You didn’t just work part time as a bank teller, you processed $100,000.00 dollars a day as a teller and assisted 60 customers a day. Numbers are more effective than personal opinions. We don’t want to say we worked hard. We want to prove our hard work with numbers that show the scale of the project.
The more we can relate our experience to the job description the better. Let’s say you mowed lawns or painted homes during the summer to put yourself through school and are applying for a customer service position. Worry less about how many houses we painted and talk more about customer success stories and how that referral business.
Key Takeaway: Use as many numbers and as much quantitative data as possible to establish credibility. Qualitative opinions like “hard worker” and “fast learner” only go so far.
Education Section Tips
Where should you put the Education section on your resume?
Professional recruiters will not list their education at the top of their resume. Candidates early in their careers commonly list their education towards the top of their professional resumes. Professional recruiters understand why this might happen, but they also know there is a better place to list your education – and here’s why.
Most of us don’t really know why we list our education at the top of our professional resume. Maybe it’s because a school counselor recommended we put our hard-earned education where everyone can see it. Maybe we saw a template online, or a friend had a nice-looking resume and that’s how they did it.
Two questions: Have your friends reviewed thousands of resumes? Was your school career counselor a professional recruiter? They are all well-intentioned, but this advice is misinformed.
Listing education at the top of the resume might have made sense 20 years ago. A few generations ago, candidates hadn’t accomplished as much by the time they finished school. Graduating from school was the greatest accomplishment. Today’s generation is not just going to school. They are living life with projects, extra-curricular activities, part time jobs, internships, sports and participation in groups, associations, and meet-ups.
Education information should be listed at the bottom of the resume for a few reasons:
- The first thing we want the hiring manager to see is that we are qualified for the job via accomplishment other than our education.
- We can assume that most of the other candidates applying to the role have similar education. If a college degree is required for a job, then all qualified candidates will have a degree, and this won't help us stand out. Relevant work experience will get the hiring manager excited (assuming we have the required education).
- We can assume that most, if not all, hiring managers and recruiters will look towards the end of the resume to see what your education consists of. So, don’t worry, it will be seen!
Most resumes list education last
Because professional recruiters see 1000’s of resumes from all career levels, they know the vast majority of candidates on job boards are listing their education at the end of their professional resume. This is because they have job experience that is senior to their education. Right after they graduated, they landed a job using their education credentials. As soon as that happened the education took a back seat to job experience.
Because most candidates have experience, hiring managers and recruiters are conditioned to look for education at the end of the resume. If we know they are going to check the end of the document for the level of education, school, GPA, etc. then there is no use in wasting the most valuable real estate on the resume with anything other than relevant experience.
Remember, the job description said that a High School, Bachelors, Master’s degree, or whatever the level, was required. For the most part, candidates applying for the same job are created equal when it comes to education.
Even if you went to an expensive private school or an Ivy League college, list it at the end of the document. The recruiter will look for the education. If it was a requirement in the job description they will look. We promise.
Grade Point Average
If you graduated more than 5 years ago, we don’t need to list our GPA. If you received a 4.0, special honors or were in the top 5% of your class, feel free to list this information. Otherwise we are better leaving it off. With more than 5 years of experience, our GPA doesn’t matter as much because this isn’t our most significant accomplishment as it relates to the position of interest. A high GPA helped us land our first job after graduation, but our last few positions and experience will us the next gig. The GPA won’t have as much impact.
If your is GPA 3.5 or higher, be proud of your accomplishment and list it. If you have a GPA between 2.8 and 3.5, we should still list it, but in addition to your GPA, list any part time jobs held and hours worked. This puts the GPA into perspective and shows a work ethic that employers appreciate.
If you didn’t work through school, list extracurricular activities. Leadership positions in the Greek system? Played collegiate level sports? Held a captain or leadership position on a team? List it, list it, list it! List it! Volunteer activities? List them! Of course, we want these activities to be related to the position. Holding the high score on a video game isn’t appropriate unless we are applying to be a game tester.
Let the hiring manager know you didn’t just go to school, you went to school to experience life and participated in extracurricular activities. Remember, this isn’t our parents application process. This is the 21st century!
Type of Degree
List out the entire degree vs. just listing the abbreviation. “Bachelors of Science” fills the page with more credibility than “B.S.” Advanced degrees can be listed in their abbreviated form. EG: MBA, PhD.
Year of Education Completion
If you graduated more than 5 years ago, we don’t need to list the year we graduated. Similar to our GPA, graduating from school was the experience that landed our first couple of positions. What will land our next position will be our most recent work experience. Because we listed our degree designation, the hiring manager knows that we graduated. The year we graduated isn’t relevant. Professional recruiters know that based on how long ago we graduated this year can date us as a candidate.
Key Takeaway: Move your education down to the bottom of your professional resume and use the prime real estate at the top of the document to qualify yourself for the position and increase the eyeball time on your document.
Interests Section Tips
Stand Out from the Crowd
If you haven't listed your personal interests on your resume, you are missing out on a golden opportunity to set yourself apart. Professional recruiters know this and will always take this opportunity to set themselves apart from other candidates by listing personal interests.
Let’s say I am a hiring manager and I am looking for a candidate with 3-5 years of experience with a degree in marketing. I share the qualifications with the recruiter and the recruiter comes back with 4-6 candidates. We can be pretty sure that all of the candidates I receive from the recruiter are going to have between 3-5 years of experience with a marketing degree. There may be a dark horse with 2.5 years or 6 years of experience, but for the most part, all of these resumes look the same. So how do you stand out?
You may have guessed it considering the topic of this resource: Personal Interests! We can’t even count how many times we have had hiring managers ask about candidates and refer to them by where they are from or some obscure fact that was listed in their personal interests:
- Hey, have you heard back from Arkansas?
- Hey, where are we at with our Cross-Country skier?
- Did we make an offer to our former Seattle Seahawk mascot?
Can the hiring manager work with you? Do they want to work with you?
At the end of the day, the hiring manager wants to know that you can not only do the job (necessary but not sufficient) but that you are someone the hiring manager can work with. Ideally the candidate shares commonalities and has some personality. Unless you're an auditor (just kidding!) The hiring manager is going to be spending 8+ hours a day with you. You can bet they want to see some personality.
If you want to stand out, list a few personal interests and include a strong descriptor like “passionate”, “avid”, or “fanatical”. Interests that show you are physically active are always good too – these demonstrate energy or the ability to energize others, which are two of the most important traits listed by managers and leaders. Personal interests that are related to your profession are also winners, probably needless to say!
Key Takeaway: Personal interests can separate you from a sea of virtually identical resumes. Include them and stand out!
Formatting Section Tips
It’s not what we say, it’s how we say it
Professional recruiters know that “how you say it”, is as important as “how you say it”. This is obviously true in the actual interview, but it can be a deal breaker or deal maker with your resume. Think of the letters you type on your resume as your words and think of how the resume is formatted as ‘how we say it”. We can have the right words, but if the intonation, volume, and accents are in the wrong places, we send a mixed message.
When professional recruiters create their resume they are conscious of a critical factor that most candidates don’t take into consideration. This critical factor is formatting of the document.
The first thing to take into consideration is the reader’s intent and then design our document around that specific intent. The reader whether it is the hiring manager or a recruiter isn’t reading your resume line by line. They are skimming your document for an initial 2-3 seconds. They do this because they have many, many resumes to review and the goal is to weed the stack of many down to 4-5 resumes that are “players” as quickly as possible.
This is why our Summary section is designed very specifically and the number of bullets we include for each position is very specific. We are guiding the recruiter down conscious paths so they come to the desired conclusion. Take an extra minute after the first skimming review and dig into the resume. Only after we make the initial cut and are one of the 4-5 resumes do we have a shot at receiving a phone call. This is why formatting is so important. With the right formatting, we can funnel the reader down the specific path and generate a longer look.
Some resumes are very easy to look at and others are very difficult to digest. Many candidates fill their pages with narrow margins and small font trying to get as much information into the resume as they possibly can. These candidates are afraid that if they don’t include a specific part of their work history, the recruiter won’t call them.
Professional recruiters on the other hand understand that all the hiring manager wants is what is in the job description and nothing more. If they wanted a specific skill set, they would have listed that skill in the job description.
Professional recruiters also recognize that depending on the position, most hiring managers are in their 30’s and 40’s or older. Their eyesight isn’t as strong and they are not reading a printed resume, they are viewing the resume on a monitor or laptop.
Professional recruiters will create a balanced document by using a larger font, well accepted font’s, and very few if any color beyond black. Colors are distractions and unless we are applying for a designer position, we aren’t being hired for artistic taste.
Professional recruiters have the following practices when they create their resume:
- Create full pages. They won’t have a resume that is partially full. When you turn in a resume that is only 1.5 or 1.75 pages long, we are communicating, “I know I had more opportunity to tell you about my accomplishments, but I couldn’t think of any or I got lazy and didn’t include them”.
- Full pages are created through the use of margins, header and footer width. Page length can also be adjusted by font size and spacing.
Key Takeaway: Career Tracker Key Takeaway: Take advantage of margins, headers, footers and font size to create full pages. Don’t feel like you need to include your entire work history. More is not always better.