Make Your Résumé Stand Out

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tstegmanThis week’s guest blogger is Tammy Stegman, who has been a Career Coordinator in the College of Business, Career Services Center at Iowa State University since 2007.  She graduated with her undergraduate degree from the University of Northern Iowa and her masters of education from Iowa State University.

Look at your résumé. What do you see? Do you have the typical headings? Objective? Education? Experience? Leadership? Good. But, what you have between those headings is what really counts.

In career services, it is common for us to help students on a daily basis in hopes of creating the perfect résumé. What is our goal? We want to assist job seekers with a résumé that includes all the “required” headings I’ve listed. Beyond that, we want to help create a résumé that stands out from the pack, accurately displays your skills, interests and abilities, shows your well-roundedness and achieves the ultimate goal –securing you an interview.

Ask yourself this question: Do you feel confident enough in your résumé that if you met with the employer of your dreams today, you would want to hand it to them? If your answer is ‘yes’ (typically not the response I get from job seekers) then you are in luck. If you are not confident, here are some strategies you can put in place right now to set yourself apart and feel confident about your résumé.

Experience on your résumé is important. Do you have related experience? Have you had an internship that relates to your major and area of interest? If not, here are some suggestions that you may consider. Volunteer somewhere! If you didn’t have an internship or job that relates to what you want to do – seek out a company or organization that could benefit from your skills and knowledge. I’ve heard many stories from successful people doing well in their fields who attribute their success to volunteer experiences. There are many organizations out there that would be eager to have a student work on the company website for several hours per week. Or look to a non-profit agency that could utilize your services in planning an event or contacting donors. The ideal place to look for a volunteer position may be in a smaller company that does not typically have extensive staff.

Do you have classroom projects on your résumé? Think of all the time and energy you devoted on your own or in a team project for a class. These projects are ideal to include on your résumé under a section entitled: ‘Related Projects’. Describe the purpose or goal of the project, what actions you took to complete it and the results from the work. Include enough information on your résumé about the project so the person reading it gains a true understanding of the work you accomplished.

Are you involved? Join an organization. Recruiters like to see well-rounded job seekers with good grades, work experience and involvement. Find an organization that you can join, attend the meetings, and in turn you’ll learn more about that particular field. Look for one that aligns with your goals and interests. If you are new to the organization or your work/class schedule does not allow you to be in a leadership role – that is okay. Attend the meetings and get as involved as your schedule allows. Easy ways to get involved can include helping to plan a meeting or designing flyers to promote the group. You don’t have to do something big to make an impact.

These ideas I’ve shared can help you enhance your résumé and make it stand apart, instead of merely being another piece of paper. Next, you just have to determine who will get your résumé. Wouldn’t it be great if you felt so confident you would be willing to hand your résumé to the employer of your dreams….RIGHT NOW?


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