Your resume is a living, breathing document that keeps track of your experiences as you venture into your academic and professional career. However, don’t let this fact intimidate you! If you tend to your resume regularly, it is relatively easy to keep it fresh.
#1 Use your college resume template as default
I know there are a ton of different resume templates out there. Some are better than others and some are downright awful. There is an art to making a strong resume, but to keep things simple, use the resume template your college has as a default.
I do mean college specifically. Sometimes different colleges within one university have different resume templates. For example, Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston has a different resume template than the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. Since I am part of both colleges, I have both copies on my Google Drive. I use them interchangeably depending on the situation or what I am applying for.
#2 Have (at least) 2 versions of your resume
One version should be long-form and the other version will be 1 page. Whenever you apply for ANYTHING (unless you have 10 years of experience or more) your resume should be 1 page. I do actually mean 1 page. Not more (or less) than one page.
The long-form resume will have all your experience and accomplishments. This is the resume that will have at least 5 descriptive bullet points per experience, all of your awards, leadership experience, etc. Don’t hold back on this resume. Make sure you have EVERYTHING on it and make updates while it’s fresh on your mind.
You’ll use this resume to customize your 1-page resume when you have internships, leadership positions, jobs, scholarships or anything else you need to apply for. Having two versions of your resume will keep you 1-page resume robust.
#3 Have a PDF version of 3 DREAM job descriptions
These job descriptions should be ambitious! Do you want to be the superintendent of a large private university? How about the CEO of a large oil and gas company? Do you want to own a chain of international consulting firms? Whatever it is, make sure it is bold, audacious and actually something you want to do.
These job descriptions will be a guide for you. Your goal is to model your resume to fit the job description of your dreams. If the job description of your dreams requires extensive leadership experience, then maybe you should apply for a leadership position in your student organization or join Toastmasters to become a more effective public speaker.
Don’t let this step intimidate you! It should inspire and motivate you to reach for the stars. It will also help you figure out the type of experience you need on your resume to get you to where you want to be.
#4 Update your resume ASAP
I touched on this briefly before, but it’s worth repeating. Update your resume ASAP! I don’t care if today was the first day of your internship, you should update your resume with the title, month and year of your internship that same day.
Update your resume with accomplishments as you achieve them. These bullet points don’t have to be perfect but they do have to be there in order to have something to fix later.
Trust me. Waiting until after you have left a position to recall all the amazing things you accomplished will always leave you feeling like you missed something.
Again, it doesn’t have to be perfect. You can fix the bullet points later, but it’s easier to clean up the bullet points you have than to make it up from scratch a month after the fact. (By the way, these bullet points should be on your long-form resume.)
#5 Articulate your accomplishments to your career adviser to help with bullet points
First of all, you should be meeting with your career adviser at least once a month. In addition to all the other topics you’ll cover, take some time to talk about your long-form resume. If you’re having problems articulating your accomplishments or wording something the right way, ask your career adviser. When you’re done with the rough draft of your bullet points, show it to your career adviser to fine tune it for you.
#6 Compare your resume to that of industry standards
This is another way to make sure your resume is competitive. If the industry you want to enter (or think you want to enter) demands that you know R and at least 5 programming languages then it’s time sign up for a free course on edX.org and get working!
Your career advisor can help you figure out the skills you need to be competitive in your industry. You can do more industry research on sites like Vault, LinkedIn, and Bureau of Labor Statistics.
These resources can help you stay on top of the industry. Make sure you’re actively seeking resources and experience that will make you competitive.
#7 Create an experience wish list
This experience wish list should be experiences you would like to acquire within the next 3-4 months to help you get closer to that dream job we talked about at #3. For instance, if you know your dream job requires that you become an effective public speaker then becoming an effective public speaker should be on your wish list. Maybe you need to learn Spanish or learn more about the stock market. Use the skills you need to learn as a guide for the type of experience you need to seek.
Your resume is a reflection of your accomplishments and hard work. Now is not the time to be humble. If you did amazing work, own it! Show off to potential employers how promising you are. Reading your resume can also be an ego boost when you hit a slump. (We’ve all been there.) With these 7 easy steps, you can keep your resume sharp and ready for any opportunity that comes your way!
If you found this article helpful, please pass it along. What’s on your experience wishlist? Let me know in the comments section below! If you have any questions, comments or concerns, you can address them here or in the comments section as well!