Before you complete the final draft of your resume and send it off to an employer, imagine yourself in the hiring manager's shoes. What kinds of details might catch your eye as you search for an excellent entry-level candidate? What phrases and facts might shine the spotlight on a hard working young applicant with ambition, passion, and resilience?
Here are four items that usually make hiring managers sit up and take notice. If you can, make sure all four of these appear in your resume.
1. Unofficial experience
You may never have held a "real" job in the field you're pursing, but that doesn't mean you completely lack experience. Have you ever tutored young students in this subject area? Have you interned in the past? Can you draw connections between the demands of this position and responsibilities of your part-time summer job? Were you ever a staff member for a related organization, like a college club? Have you ever volunteered for a non-profit organization, like a Red Cross Blood Drive or local museum?
These activities demonstrate that you know the difference between studying (in which your energy is primarily self-focused) and work (in which your energy is focused on the needs of others around you, including a boss, coworkers, or company). Managers want entry-level candidates who can understand this difference and move easily between the two.
2. An active interest in something else
People that work hard on their own volition tend to also work hard on the job. So if you have a notable hobby, include it on your resume. It's refreshing to find a candidate with a personal interest in an art, science, sport, hobby, or anything else outside of the classroom or workplace. In addition to showing some personal initiative, listing this interest in your resume will give your manager something to discuss with you that may provide insight into your personality.
3. A sign of preparation and research
In the professional summary section of your resume, include a short sentence or a few words that show you've researched the target company and understand what the managers will expect from you. Provide some evidence that you aren't just looking for a job — any job — but are actually interested in making contributions to THIS employer. In order to accomplish this, you'll have to visit the company website and make sure you understand exactly what this business provides to its customers and how these products or services are produced. Ideally, you should also have a clear understanding of how the position you're chasing supports this larger mission.
4. Excellent language skills
It may not always be a fair or accurate assumption, but candidates who write and speak well are often viewed in a more trustworthy light than those who don't. If your language skills are exceptional, make sure this shows in every line and phrase of your resume. And if you sometimes struggle to write in a high register, focus on smoothing out your written language as much as possible. Get reading and editing help from your friends and family, and when your readers provide honest feedback, take their comments to heart and use them to make your document as articulate, clear, and polished as you can.
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