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No Mincing Words on Your Resume

I know that graduation and internship search season is right around the corner when I start seeing a lot of students for resume help. Even over the winter break, I’ve been busy with appointments, the majority of which have been for resumes. I’ve come to really enjoy these appointments.

Resume writing is (or should be) a very strategic process, and it can also allow for creativity. It’s fun to talk tactics with students.

The one point that I seem to cover with every resume is section headings, particularly the heading for the work experience section. The days of a singular, one-size-fits-all experience section are long gone. Retooling this one section could revolutionize the effectiveness of your resume.

Rethink the section title itself.

How boring is “Experience” for a section heading? Get creative and have fun (if resume writing can be considered fun) with the title for this important section on your resume. Going into PR and have PR-related experience, such as an internship, under your belt? Instead of naming the section “Experience,” title it “Public Relations Experience.” It’s something really small that can make a big difference.

Target your experience for the reader.

The reason that making the small change above is so crucial is that it makes your resume more meaningful to the reader. Because that’s really what it’s all about–the reader of your resume, not you. Back to the previous example, think about how an employer will react to your resume when you apply for a PR job with “Public Relations Experience” right in front of their face. Instead of just showing them you have experience of some sort, you are shouting that you have the exact experience they’re looking for.

Understand that experience and a pay check are not the same thing.

I have seen plenty of resumes that use “Work Experience” or, worse, “Work History” as a heading. For many, this kind of title seems to limit the content to paid jobs. However, what about a long-term volunteer role or an unpaid internship? I’ve seen students downplay relevant experiences because they weren’t paid. A better title might help you approach this section differently.

With a little time remaining before the spring semester begins, take a moment to look at your resume and the most important section on it. Spice up that dull experience section by getting specific. You’ll be doing yourself and future readers a favor.

Author

Laura serves as Internship Coordinator at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in the office of Career & Leadership Development.  In this role, Laura advises students who are pursuing internships, assists employers with intern recruitment, and supports university faculty who oversee academic internships.  She also provides students with job search readiness assistance through presentations, individual counseling, and social media.  Laura earned her bachelors degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she majored in French and Political Science, and she received her masters degree in Counseling from UW-Whitewater.  To learn more about Laura, read her blog, follow her on Twitter, or connect on LinkedIn.

Related posts:

  1. Ready Your Resume
  2. Is Your Resume Lost in Translation?
  3. Resume Writing for Entertainment Careers

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