by Kate Gredley
Finding a job can be a difficult endeavor in today’s job market for college graduates — so while you are still in college, it’s time to be proactive about your career. Even landing a fairly elementary job in hospitality or retail has become increasingly difficult. Still, it is important that you create a resume that demonstrates that you are the superior candidate to all the other Joes and Janes competing for the same position.
That is not to say finding a job when you have limited experience or skills will be impossible, it is just a weakness — one that can be overcome with the right attitude and a little charm.
Unfortunately not all of us job-seekers possess that level of suave charisma — and thus most of us should be thinking of ways to develop new skills, gain new experiences, and achieve additional accomplishments.
Why Do I Need To Beef Up My Resume?
Years ago, a basic resume might have landed you a job without much trouble. Today, a glut of recently graduated college students and laid off workers means you must be proactive about your job search. Even a degree in an up and coming field such as informational-technology is no longer enough to assure a job.
How Do I Know If I Need To Beef Up My Resume?
Your resume would be considered weak if you have a hard time detailing your experience and accomplishments. More experienced job-seekers will have an easier time creating a solid resume, but inexperienced job seekers — if they prepare properly using the tips in this article — should be able to create a resume that is just as solid.
When Should I Start Beefing Up My Resume?
If you are sitting at the computer the day before you begin your job-search and realize that your compiled skills and experiences can fill only a few lines, then you have waited too long. I cannot express enough the importance of consciously engaging in activities that will allow you to create a solid resume years before you begin searching for a job. If you have not been as proactive as you should have been, you should begin engaging in activities to beef up your resume immediately.
Here are some activities that you can engage in to beef up — to improve the quality of your resume:
Volunteer Work: If you have the time, squeeze in some volunteer experience. You may not be the type of individual who enjoys spending precious free time altruistically helping out at non-profits, but consider volunteering at least a few hours a month. Employers like to see that their potential employees are engaged in the community. This kind of service demonstrates a high level of respect, responsibility, and willingness to go the extra mile to help the community flourish. This is a persona that you should be eager to present to potential employers. [Learn more about volunteering and non-profits here.]
Work-Study and Part-Time Jobs: When you build your resume, include any work-study or part-time job experiences that you have acquired over the years. You may not believe it, but these jobs form a solid foundation. Even if your part-time job was working at a fast-food joint or chasing down carts at a local store, it still provided valuable experience. Jobs tell future employers that you understand the value of work. Ideally, locate a part-time job that is relevant to your future career field, but even if you can’t, unrelated jobs demonstrate to employers that you have experience working in a formal environment in which you were expected to demonstrate that you could accomplish given tasks and show up on time.
Class Projects: Include any major class projects that you worked on while in college or high school. Class projects can be individual or group projects. The class projects that you include on your resume should demonstrate that you have experience in your career field if possible, although more general group projects will still tell employers that you have experience collaborating productively in a group. Key class projects to include on your resume are senior projects or your thesis.
Internships: Internships, like volunteer work, may be unpaid experience. Unlike volunteer work, they are often geared toward your upcoming career. They provide actual experience in your chosen career. An internship (or more than one) demonstrates to potential employers that you have real-world experience. Too often job-seekers are not able to gain experience in their field until they obtain a job. Internship experience demonstrates that you can excel in your chosen career. An internship may signal to an employer that the organization will not need to spend as much time training you in basic skills, which may put you slightly ahead of the other candidates. [Learn more about internships and interning here.]
Leadership Positions Within Clubs and Organizations: Consider one or more leadership positions within organizations in which you are a member — and include these on your resume. Just remember to focus your time on a few positions. Accepting too many positions will stretch your time too thinly. Leadership positions provide valuable experience. You can showcase your skills leading a group, dealing with diverse groups of people, and cultivating and organizing ideas. Potential employers like to see this level of responsibility. Employers often look for individuals who can help the organization excel, individuals with the potential to become the future managers of the company.
[Learn more about gaining experience while in college here: 15 Quick Tips for Gaining Valuable Experience in College.]
Final Thoughts on Beefing Up Your Resume
These are just a few ideas to jumpstart you into creating a better resume, one filled with more experience than perhaps you thought you had.
Hopefully by the end of this process you will have a well-written resume that is full of relevant experiences and accomplishments. Once the resume has been compiled you can go into job-hunting confidently.
One final piece of advice for beefing up your resume — and your skills. Consider actively learning new technology. Office work in particular is computer-based. Companies will often train you, but it is advantageous to express a mastery of technology. Remember, the more you know the better. Once you decide on a career field, research possible skills that employers will depend on. Some basic skills that you should know how to do include:
- Creating Webpages with Word Press and HTML
- Manipulating pictures with Photoshop
- Using GoogleDocs and Microsoft Office
- Managing professional social media profiles
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
Don’t forget to take advantage of all the resume articles, tutorials, and more in this section of Quintessential Careers: Resume and CV Resources and Tools for Job-Seekers, as well as the key resources for college grads in this section: College Student, Recent College Grad: Career and Job-Search Resources.
Kate Gredley is an elementary teacher with a background in marketing. She thrives on creativity and helping America’s youth proactively develop skills that will aid them in their future careers. She writes about marketing degrees for Globe University.