- Powerful resumes and cover letters portray your skills as transferable and applicable to what you want to do.
You may think what you’ve done is not relevant to your future career, but you can probably spin the experience so that it demonstrates the transferable and applicable skills that most employers want:
The value of transferable skills is a major reason we urge students to list sports in the Experience sections of their resumes — because athletics so often provide the teamwork, leadership experience, and competitive drive that employers seek.
For more about transferable skills, see Transferable Skills — a Vital Job-search Technique. For more about portrayal of transferable skills in cover letters, see Emphasizing your Transferable and Marketable Skills in our Cover Letter Tutorial.
- Powerful resumes and cover letters focus on ACCOMPLISHMENTS, NOT job duties and responsibilities.
In the recent study by the Career Management Alliance, content elements that propelled employers to immediately discard resumes included a focus on duties instead of accomplishments, while documented achievements were highly ranked among content elements that employers look for.
Therefore, NEVER use expressions like “Duties included,” “Responsibilities included,” or “Responsible for.” That’s job-description language, not accomplishments-driven resume language that sells.
Instead, emphasize the special things you did to set yourself apart and do the job better than anyone else.
Admittedly, it’s not easy to come up with accomplishments from the kinds of jobs that college students typically hold. But it’s important to:
- Start tracking your accomplishments NOW.
- Start HAVING accomplishments NOW!
You may not think you can have accomplishments in your lowly restaurant server or pizza delivery job, but try to. Ask your boss what you can do to improve. Strive to win any awards (such as Employee of the Month) that your employer offers. Find ways to go above and beyond your job description.
For more about accomplishments, see For Job-Hunting Success: Track and Leverage Your Accomplishments.