Resumes: Communicate Your Value

Resumes are no longer a compilation of college classes and part-time jobs. Instead, they’re marketing pieces that communicate your value by connecting your skills and experience to employers’ needs. So approach creating your resume like a marketing director: Research the target audience, brainstorm ideas and design a marketing and communications strategy before you start writing. 

Organization simplifies the resume writing process, so gather these things before you begin.

  • Resume Template or Samples

    Free resume samples are available on Dice or through your campus career center. Avoid ornate formats; instead choose a simple, easy-to-read Microsoft Word document that will convert easily to plain text. Use no more than two font types (preferably12 point Times New Roman or Arial) and use bold type or bullets only to emphasize key points. Select a design appropriate for recent technology grads, one that lists your education and coursework before your experience, and includes a section for computer languages, operating systems and other technical expertise. Choose either a chronological or functional format, but students with less hands-on experience are best served by a functional format.

  • Resume Action Verb List

    Free lists are available online. Search online "resume action verbs" plus a keywords based on your interests, like "software."

  • Pertinent Information

    Your information needs to be accurate, so refer to a recent transcript for your GPA and course titles. You’ll also need a list of your student projects, internships, awards, extracurricular activities and the exact dates of paid or volunteer positions.

  • Quality 8½ by 11 White Bond Paper, a Professional E-Mail Address.

Research Phase  

Follow these steps to uncover the needs of prospective employers.

  • Print out job descriptions outlining the requirements for your targeted positions. Highlight keywords describing the skills, competencies and traits required by employers. These include job titles, software program titles, hardware names, soft skills and attributes like strong communications skills, teamwork and problem-solving capabilities – even industry buzz words. Pepper your resume with these, because employers select candidates based upon the keyword match between resumes and the job description. In addition, the keywords will give you a glimpse into the desired candidate profile.

    "Research the industries where you want to work to find out the problems companies are facing," says Louise Kursmark, president of Massachusetts-based Best Impression Career Services. "Ask yourself how can I provide a solution? Put yourself in the employer’s shoes and think about what kind of person they need to hire to fix those problems."

  • Map your previous experience, skills and attributes to the employer’s needs and the job requirements, and highlight those competencies in your resume.

Writing Phase  

Use these guidelines to create your resume:

  • An objective statement is optional, but experts agree it’s most effective when your goal includes a specific job title.
  • Modern resumes often begin with a two- to three-sentence qualifications summary. This is your marketing pitch. It states why you’re qualified and gives the reviewer a preview of what’s to come as you provide specific examples from your education and work experience.
  • Next list your relevant jobs, student projects and internships, beginning with one or two sentences describing the challenges you faced in each role and the specific results you achieved. "You need to find a way to distinguish yourself," says Kursmark. "Go beyond what you know and talk about what you’ve done and how well you did it."
  • Provide a series of accomplishment statements for each job illustrating how you achieved results. Begin each statement with a past tense action verb and choose examples that demonstrate proficiency with the required skills.
  • Include your overall or major GPA, if it’s 3.0 or higher, and your anticipated or actual graduation date.
  • Capitalize proper nouns and words that begin sentences or phrases.
  • Use periods only at the end of complete sentences and use punctuation consistently throughout the document.
  • Use "I" only in your objective statement. First person is implied in resumes.
  • Limit your resume to no more than two pages. Some experts say even that’s long for a newly minted graduate.
  • Spell check and grammar check your resume, but also ask two trusted professionals to proofread and evaluate whether you’ve been effective in communicating your value.

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