No matter who we are, a college student, a chef, an accountant or even a recruiter, our job search started in the same way–with a resume. This document is perhaps the most important piece of paper you own (no offense, college diploma) because it will paint a picture of who you are for someone who has never met you.
Your resume is the key to getting your foot in that well-known and talked-about door of interviewing. So, your resume must act as a sales presentation.
The pitch: Why are you (or your car) special?
The core of all cars is the same–they have an engine and parts that make it run, some seats and doors and a sound system. But how, then, do some car salespeople or car companies seem to sell their product far better than their competitors?
They point out what’s unique, what’s award winning, what’s innovative. Maybe the sound system has six speakers instead of four. Maybe the seats are heated and have position memory for different drivers. Maybe that particular car was rated very highly by an industry association.
Unique attributes. Those are the elements your resume needs–highlighting your qualities by qualifying and quantifying them.
Create your ad: Would your resume sell you in AutoTrader?
Let’s say you took part in a community project. Take a look at these two statements and decide which would read more impressive to a recruiter:
• Part of a Habitat for Humanity team in the New York area that constructed two homes.
• Team lead for school’s first ever Habitat for Humanity initiative. Coordinated team of 15 volunteers that constructed two homes in the New York area. Recognized by school’s president for leadership.
At their core, both statements say the same thing–you took part in Habitat for Humanity. But the second goes further to establish what your exact role was in the project and why it was so notable.
When I give advice to people as to where to start when writing their resume, I tell them to think about their job and consider if they were to ask for a raise, what would be the top five to seven reasons they would give as to get one.
As a student, you can do the same. If you don’t have work experience, you can consider club leadership roles and why others should vote you in again. Did you increase membership? If so, don’t stop there–tell us by how much. Did you take ownership over a significant project? If so, did it save money or create efficiencies and how did those impact the group?
When applying for jobs, you have a dual role as both salesperson and main product. No one else will be able to better sell your skills, your experience, and your personality. Although a resume is only a compilation of words, it can come to life if you put some power behind it.
Never let a statement sit on its own; give it character and substance. Develop your resume so that it answers the question “So what?” and sets you apart from others. Hungry for more? Click for more Job Seeker Tips, including links to help you strengthen your resume.
Michele is a Senior Recruiter for Sodexo, a world leader in quality of daily life solutions that contribute to the progress of individuals and the performance of organizations. As a former assistant director at the University of Maryland University College’s Career and Cooperative Education Center, she’s no stranger to students trying to plan their careers. During that time, she worked with non-traditional college students to gain school credit for on the job work experience. Michele also taught seminars on job searching, resume writing and interview techniques, and partnered with local employers to help students gain employment. At Sodexo, she has continued her interest in shaping student careers by serving as a mentor to an intern in the company’s Future Leaders Program. Michele began her recruitment career in 1999, joining Sodexo in 2008 where she recruits for a range of food, facilities and environmental services positions. Michele holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland College Park (go Terps), is a charter member of a Baltimore area Toastmasters chapter, and a Certified Internet Recruiter (CIR) and Certified Diversity Recruiter (CDR). When not giggling with her two girls, Michele enjoys writing … and watching the Yankees win, much to the dismay of her husband. Join her on LinkedIn or just Network with Us at Sodexo.