One of the most influential factors that affects the fate of your future employment is your job application. Everyone has one with basically the same structure- name, description, skills and experience. In a world with many similar applications, you want to make sure you stand out from the crowd and grab the attention of your future employer. If you are stumped on how to make your application a special snowflake, no worries! Below are a list of tips I have received from my employers, past and present, on how to spice up your resumé while still keeping it professional.
1. Experience In The Desired Field
Whether it be for a marketing position, an engineering co-op, or a volunteer opportunity, one factor that will put you ahead is if you have experience in the desired field. This can be tough when you are just starting out in your professional career, so even if you don’t have the per say “exact” experience, related work can be just as effective.
I had no marketing experience when I applied for my internship this summer, but by showcasing fliers I had made for a student government campaign and displaying a book cover that I had designed, I had at least something to bring to the table which landed me the position! The employer wants to see the interest in the field, so if you portray that, it shouldn’t be a problem.
2. Variety of Work/Experience
Retail, food service, customer service, volunteering and many others! By displaying a variety of jobs that you have encountered over your professional career, it can make you look more marketable because you have literally seen it all. This can also make for great talking points if you have had an out-of-the-box job!
Even if you have limited experience in the field of the potential job, showing how flexible you are with a plethora of other positions will give the employers a sense that you are adaptable and willing to try new things. Showing the interviewer that you have a wide range of experience will show that you can handle anything!
3. Turn In List Of References
Even though they might not ask specifically for this, it always looks super professional if you hand in a list of your references with their updated means of contact. Also note the key work: updated! Nothing is worse than when the company calls the last place you worked and can’t get a hold of the boss that would speak nothing but good things about you.
When you update your resumé, I would strongly encourage you to update your references as well to keep it current. A stellar review from your past employer could be your golden ticket to a new position!
4. Include Numbers
My current boss said this was a #1 trait that will grab her attention instantly on a job application.
She explained what she meant by numbers: “It looks good if you put that you write for a blog, but if you include that you write for a blog that reached 20K people a week in three different continents, that definitely sounds more impressive!”
How many people have shared your written work, how many hours you have logged volunteering, or how many years you’ve worked with a company are all great numbers to put on a resumé because they build your credibility! This tip was new to me, but it makes complete sense, so start updating your resume with numbers!
5. Don’t Downplay Your Achievements
You, of course, don’t want to come off cocky, but if you downplay your achievements that you have made, that can be worse! If you lead a project, organize an event, or anything else that was in your name, display these with confidence on your application.
Something to watch out for is the use of phrases like “helped with” or “tried to” before you state what you did. This diminishes the fact that you played a big part in the event. Just omit these starters and stick with “Led”, “Organized”, “Established”, etc… Leadership is something every employer looks for, so don’t be humble about your professional achievements!
6. Display Job Description Traits
Every open job has a list somewhere of the desired traits that a candidate should have for the position. I strongly encourage everyone to find this list and the traits that match both the description and the traits you possess, and put them on your resumé.
Also, by looking at this list of what the company expects from you will help you get more mentally prepared if they offer you an interview. By seeing exactly what they are looking for on your application, yours will definitely be put at the top of the pile!
7. Only Include Relevant Work Experience
Yes, it’s time to get rid of the babysitting job that you had in middle school on your resumé. Seeing outdated work on someone’s resumé can be a turn off to an employer, especially if you don’t have any current experience. If you haven’t had the opportunity to get a lot of jobs recently, don’t worry!
Instead of resorting to outdated jobs, include your major and classes you have taken that can showcase experience and be good talking points. If you have a leadership position in a club on campus, that’s great too! Ditch pre-college jobs and go with relevant experiences.
8. Showcase Your Personal Interests/Hobbies
What do you do outside of work and school? By showcasing the team the clubs that you are in will give more life to your resumé. Also, showing that you are involved in your school and community will highlight traits such as being a team player, creativity and even leadership. Remember, the company wants to get a feel of who you are as a person, so this will definitely shine light on your personality and determination!
9. Include Link To Personal Blog
No, I’m not referring to your blog on how much you love avocados (but that could be an interesting talking point!). If you are in college, I strongly encourage everyone to create a LinkedIn profile and to include the link on your application! This can be a very powerful tool to help you showcase your experience, what you are looking for and what your interests are.
This is also great for networking opportunities; follow companies that you are interested in so they can see your achievements and acknowledge them if you are seeking a job there. Utilize your social media obsession with LinkedIn!
10. Add Personality
Personality. Everyone’s got one, and each person is unique and different! Adding little touches of your personality to your resumé is one way to definitely make yourself stand out. I personally chose to write my words in a lavender color to convey creativity. If you are stumped on ideas that are cute yet professional, Pinterest has millions of ideas that can help guide you! Who says you can’t be cute AND professional?
Now that you’ve read this far, pull up your resumé and start updating!