Resume changes mean students must adapt
Published: Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 11:04
Whether the real world is a few years or a few months away for students, a sharp resume can make or break an applicant’s chances.
Andrew Skaggs, the employment specialist at Dixie State College, said the point of a resume is to get the applicant a job interview.
“It’s a way to present information employers are looking for in an organized, efficient way,” Skaggs said.
A good resume will have a few key elements. First, the heading, name and contact information should be at the top. The next item is a profile of two to four sentences where applicants write a little bit about themselves.
The next section will be work experience, where applicants will want to list job titles, employers and responsibilities. Next is the education section, where Skaggs recommends listing your GPA only if it’s 3.5 or higher.
Last, students will want to list skills, which should include experience with computer programs and any foreign languages.
And if an employer requires letters of recommendation, make sure they’re applicable to the job.
“If you’re going into, just hypothetically, teaching, you’re probably not going to rely on a Wendy’s referral,” Skaggs said. “Pick what’s applicable—that’s very important.”
Skaggs said it’s vital that students make sure their resumes are as clean as possible.
“There’s nothing good that comes out of a mistake on a resume,” he said. The best that’s possible it says to whoever’s reading it is ‘I don’t care.’ The worst is ‘I’m not literate, or I don’t know how to write.’ That’s a lose-lose situation.”
Skaggs also said to stay away from dated terminology like objective.
“When you think about it, it’s not very useful anymore,” he said. “You’re applying for the job—they don’t need to hear [why you’re applying]. They need to hear what they’re going to get if they hire you.”
And avoid placing pictures of yourself on resumes. Federal Equal Employment Opportunity laws prevent discrimination in the hiring process. However, this also means employers don’t want to see faces because of both discrimination and potential lawsuit issues.
“By law, if [employers] see your picture, they’re going throw your resume out,” Skaggs said.
Of course, as always, there are exceptions to this rule. Jobs in the media world, such as broadcast, will require portfolios where employers can look at an applicant’s body of work, and it will be inevitable they’ll see what applicants look like. But, unless that’s the case, Skaggs said stay away from photos and videos as much as possible.
While Skaggs said it’s not easy to simply divide resumes into good or bad, some resumes do look better than others. The ones that look better are nicely written and present the information efficiently.
“You’re helping the HR person make a decision,” he said. “They don’t have to go delving through paragraphs of stuff to find the information they’re looking for.”
Troy Randall, a business adviser, said resumes are a way to present unique information.
“It’s important to have information and internships that set you apart from others with identical degrees,” Randall said.
Skaggs recommends students go to the Career Center for advice on their resumes. He also said students need to plan on at least three visits for a finely tuned resume.
“I’ve yet to meet someone who sits in front of Word, types up a resume in 10 minutes, and has success with it,” he said.
Ultimately, Skaggs said to pay attention to what employers want.
“The single most important thing you can do if you’re a job searcher is do what [employers] are looking for,” he said. “Do what they ask for.”