As I have mentioned in my fall semester goals, I am currently on the hunt for an internship for the winter and summer. As I am in a cooperative program at my university, it is required that I accomplish three four-month internships before I graduate. My first (and second) internship will be during the winter semester, starting at the beginning of January. So, naturally, I have to start looking and preparing for the interviewing process. The first step to landing an awesome internship is to write a killer resume! I am absolutely no expert here, but I went to a workshop at my career center and also met a counselor who helped me perfect my resume, even if I have no experience in my field.
You do have experience
Let’s make things clear here. I know the title of this post says “even if you don’t have any experience”, but I was lying. Everyone has experience. You may not have any work experience, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t have anything to show! Once you realize that, it’ll be much easier for you to write your resume. I had a hard time at first crafting my own because I didn’t realize that I could still shine even if I didn’t have as much experience as other people. But employers aren’t necessarily looking for experience. They are looking for skills. If you show that you do have those skills, you have just as much a chance at landing the job or the internship as the next person. Instead of focusing on your lack of work experience, concentrate on what you have accomplished. Include your education, any relevant volunteer work or extracurriculars, and any distinction you might have received. This is just as important as work experience (if not more)!
Let you personality shine
A resume is an employer’s first glance at who you are. They don’t even know you, and yet, they might already have an opinion on you or expectations! Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine on your resume, whether it is by the design, the word choice, what you show… I know I am shy and an introvert. Therefore, when I crafted my resume, I didn’t go ahead and say that I was great at speaking in front of an audience or have a design that was all over the place. Instead, I focused on my best asset: my writing abilities and my good grades. I kept the design simple and airy, made sure that there were no spelling or grammar mistakes (that’s soooo important, even if you’re not a good writer!), and listed experience that went that way.
Go straight to the point
Let’s be honest: employers don’t spend more than 30 seconds scanning your resume. Yes, you read that correctly. Not reading, scanning. What? All of that hard work for someone only to scan your resume? Well, let me tell you one thing: if it’s done correctly, the employer won’t need more than 30 seconds to know all there is to know about you! So what does that mean for you? It means that you should make your resume clear, airy and easy to read. You don’t want to write big compact paragraphs that people aren’t going to read. Instead, prefer the bullet point format. It’s clear, easy to read, and goes straight to the point. You don’t have time for fluff with bullet points. Also, keep your resume to 1-2 pages (or a two-sided page). If you have no real work experience, it shouldn’t be longer than that.
Focus on your abilities
Remember when we said that you do have experience? Well, now is the time to let that shine! Instead of functioning by experience, think by skill. My career center had made a spreadsheet with skills employers are looking for the most in an intern and they attached experience that was relevant to that specific skill. For example, for good communication, I would say that I was on the prom organization committee in high school, which meant that I had to host the event. Or for time management skill, simply mentioning that you have a part-time job while being in college shows that you can juggle more than one thing at the same time. So you may not have a spreadsheet like the one my career center created, but you can think of some abilities that you have and that you want employers to know! You could also do a little research on Google or Pinterest and I’m sure you could come up with a similar diagram!
Demonstrate your centers of interest
Showing what interests you is a great way to show your personality, and if you get an interview, it can be a great way to spark up the conversation! You don’t necessarily have to add a “hobbies” section to your resume, but you can add relevant experience or skills that can let the employer know what interests you. For instance, I am a bookworm. I thought it was something that people should know, and my job as a library assistant lets whoever looks at my resume know that. I also love everything relating to social medias, so I added my blog to my resume and I mentioned that I managed multiple social media profiles for my blog. Finally, I love languages. So I mentioned that I was a language student and added my language skills. You get the idea.
When you’re writing about past experience, be specific. If you mention that you love languages, to come back to my earlier example, tell them which ones and how well you master them. You don’t want to let them guess or overgeneralize. Use action verbs that let them know you’re in charge and you know what you’re doing
(even if you really don’t).
However, you don’t want to be too specific. Let some space for imagination! You don’t want your future employer to know everything about you before they call you up. Because what’s the point of the interview if there’s nothing else to know about you than what you’ve put on paper?
A good way to keep your resume clean and simple is to use sections. There are many sections that you can include, but education, work experience, distinctions, extracurriculars, and specific skills (such as languages and computer software) are some of the basics every resume should have.
Keep formatting simple
I know I said earlier that the design is one of the ways you can show your personality on your resume, but try to keep it simple. Unless you’re applying for a job in graphic design or arts, chances are the design won’t matter much to your future employer. So keep things simple, don’t use too fancy
(unreadable) fonts, and keep the colors to a minimum. Your resume should be easy to read (or scan), so don’t complicate the life of whoever is reading yours!
After doing a bit of research, I realized that resumes are done a bit differently in the US than in Quebec. So if you’re looking for something a little bit specific (some even have templates!) or for some extra tips, I suggest you take a look at these blog posts:
- College Resume: Experience and Design Tips by Samanthability
- Are You Making These Common Resume Mistakes? by MyDomaine
- How to Write a Resume by Elana Lyn
- How to Perfect your Resume by Coming Up Roses
- How to Nail Your Resumé by Stylish Sassy & Classy
What are you tips for crafting a killer resume?