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Resume Writing 101

Keeping a clean, organized, and updated resume is one of the most important tasks to keep up with through your college career. Your resume is the first impression potential employers will have of you. Think of it as an advertisement of yourself. Whether you are applying for your first job out of college, or are trying for a summer internship, a professional resume is the first step.

The purpose of the resume is to show employers your education, work experience, accomplishments, activities, and skills in a very simple layout. There are more than enough resume layouts, formats, and templates out there to give you a migraine. In reality, resume writing does not have to be all that difficult. It is a tool to highlight your attributes in an organized manner. Here are some step-by-step instructions on how to effectively portray your qualifications for a given job.

TEMPLATES

The first step is to choose a template for your resume. This is more of an open decision on your part. Start by searching the web and your computer. Websites such as Monster, all the way to Microsoft word programs offer eye-catching examples. The template you choose should layout your repertoire in a clean manner. Century cursive text is not what you are looking for here. Once your template is set you can begin putting your creative wheels in motion.

The very top of the document should include basic pedigree information; name, location, phone number, and email address. Divide the resume into 4 or 5 major sections. It is always best to start with education because it is your foundation. List the university you attended/ are attending along with graduation date and grade point average.

EDUCATION

Bachelor’s Degree in Finance, Minor in Economics (in progress)

Ohio University, Athens, OH, June 2010

3.548 Cumulative GPA

For the second section, I recommend work experience, since the most important information concerning your qualifications should be near the top. Generally, work experience is ordered chronologically. The length of the list may dictate your order. More experienced workers with a long list of jobs will want the list to run from oldest to most current. Provide a brief, concise description below each job title. The key here is sound professional with the descriptions. Even if all you did for the boss at your old job was serve tables, say “Interacted with club members to meet all of their needs.” There is a big difference between sounding like a professional and a kiss ass. And you sure as hell do not want to come off as a bad janitor. Here is a great example:

WORK EXPERIENCE

Infinite Capital, LLC., Rocky River, OH

Finance & Real Estate Intern (November 2008-January 2009)

  • Assisted in organizing company database and email
  • Learned how a commercial broker operates business
  • Became acquainted with company underwriting

An accomplishments/honors section is used to showcase lifelong achievements. These can range from scholarships to college sports. Employers are very interested in applicants who have stood above others in their respective activities. A detailed list of accomplishments will further reinforce your high quality education and work experience. A simple example would be:

ACCOMPLISHMENTS

  • National Honors and Scholars Society (Nov 2007 – present)
  • President of University’s student equity management group (Nov 2008-present)

Next, dedicate a section to your collegiate activities. List them by level of importance. Each activity should highlight your roles and responsibilities. For example, if you played a vital role such as president of your fraternity, you will want to highlight the leadership and volunteer efforts that came with the title. A solid list of activities is a great way reinforce your resume if you are not as satisfied with your grades. Involvement is a key ingredient in displaying ambition. Remember, activities need effective, not lengthy descriptions.

ACTIVITIES

Financial Management Association

  • Member of an organization that meets to discuss market trends
  • Contacted key speakers from financial service companies

A bulleted list of skills is generally a good way to close out a resume. This is to show what programs and information systems you became familiar with through previous jobs. For example, any type of business job would expect to see that you are proficient with Microsoft Office programs like Excel. This section may also be useful to list any certifications or licenses you have received if you chose not to list them under education.

SKILLS

  • Licensed Series 7 & 63 broker
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office and experience with ACT Databases

Near the bottom it may be wise to write a list of references or say available upon request. A well-rounded set of references will consist of your old bosses and professors whom you have held a strong relationship with. The examples explained in this article provide the meat of what an excellent resume should consist of. Resumes determine whether or not an employer would be interested in interviewing you.

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About Cliff Englewood Cliff goes to MSU and is TSB Magazine resident "College Life" contributor with tips and advice to get the most out of your time in college.

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