This year, thousands of juniors and seniors will visit their career counselors to get their résumés polished and shined for job interviews. However, freshmen and sophomores also should make similar appointments to begin preparing their résumés.
As the possibility of internships and future scholarships looms on the horizon, students should get themselves prepared. While there are plenty of great books on résumé writing, this article offers a few easy tips that can get students started and help make their résumés stand out.
Make a list of accomplishments
About the time that students graduate from college, they have compiled plenty of material for a résumé. But for freshmen, it may seem that there isn’t a great deal of work experience to put down. However, when students take the time to list their volunteer work, odd jobs, club memberships, and high school and college leadership positions, they often will be surprised with what they find.
Even the most mundane job experience at a fast-food restaurant can be valuable. After all, think about what a cashier actually does at work: talks to customers, takes and fills orders, handles money, and works with POS software. There are many different things a student can use to fill up a résumé page. Taking the time to write them down will help students see what they have to offer and how to show those skills to a potential employer or scholarship judge.
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While students want to be seen as individuals, many use a cookie-cutter approach to creating their résumé. It’s easy to open up Microsoft Word and use a standard template to do the job. The problem is that templates or résumé programs don’t allow for much individualization. In addition, intern recruiters and scholarship administrators can typically sniff out a “canned” résumé a mile away. Every student should remember that originality, rather than uniformity, is what makes your résumé stand out.
Make the résumé fit the job/scholarship
No two jobs or scholarships are exactly alike. Each organization will be looking for something unique in a scholarship or internship. Therefore, it’s a good idea to make sure a student’s résumé fits the goal. Let’s look at two different internships as an example.
- X Charities offers a scholarship to a marketing student that has a “commitment to community.”
- Y Corporation offers a scholarship to qualified marketing majors.
What is the difference between the two? X Charities is looking for volunteer service, while Y Corporation is looking for a marketing candidate with strong academic credentials.
A student applying to both should tailor the résumé to fit the differences in the organizations. Students should make their volunteer and leadership service more prominent for the X Charities application. But volunteer services are less important for the Y Corporation application, so career-related clubs and experience should play a lead role on the résumé page.
All students will have to create a résumé someday. But it’s important for them to also know not only how to make one, but how to make it work to help them win valuable scholarships and career building internships.
Jose Vazquez, a marketing major at Western Illinois University, has been awarded 27 scholarships, amassing more than $100,000 in aid to date. He is the author of the book Free Cash For College: The Everyday Students Guide To Financial Aid, which can be found at www.vazquezmedia.com. Vazquez is also a public speaker that gives seminars on financial aid and scholarship strategy for universities that wish to not only inform, but entertain their students as well! .
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