Oftentimes, in today’s competitive job market, the difference between getting that all-important job out of college can come down to writing a winning resume. With so many qualified candidates with equal skillsets applying for the same jobs, it has become more important than ever to make sure one’s resume appropriately captures and presents the applicant’s strengths and attributes. More than anything, the resume is a way for applicants to sell themselves and stand out from the crowd. However, with so many different resume formats and options available to job seekers, creating a winning resume can be challenging if one does not follow the proper steps. Luckily, by following the steps in this tutorial, one can easily fashion a winning and professional resume.
Firstly, when creating a standout resume, one must decide on a medium. Formats available to potential job applicants include Microsoft Word documents, PDFs, or online templates. It is important to decide whether one wants to pay for more professional online templates that can come in flashy design formats, or to create a template from scratch. If one has the money, online templates can be a user-friendly alternative to “do-it-yourself” (DIY) options, but these former can be pricey, ranging from a few dollars to several hundred dollars. If the applicant is on a budget, the DIY options are a good substitute for costly templates. These DIY options take somewhat more initiative and effort than ready-made templates, but, in the end, can be more a more rewarding and cheaper alternative.

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Secondly, once one has decided on a medium—ready-made versus DIY from scratch—one must then decide on how to format the document. Since the ready-made pay templates guide users through the process, in this tutorial we will focus on the more challenging process of DIY resume formatting. One of the easiest and best DIY formats to use can be found through Microsoft Word. The steps are as follows: double click on the Microsoft Word icon, which can be found on all on-campus computers. At the top, one will see the prompt, “search for online templates.” In the search box, type “resumes.” A large list of free templates will appear. Scroll through these to find the one that looks the most professional and is the most appealing. This choice is largely based on taste, but make sure to choose a template that is not too flashy or impractical to use. Avoid overly-large fonts, splashy colors, and design elements that will take up space and add little in the way of content.

Thirdly, once one has chosen a free template from Microsoft Word, make sure to save the file. There is nothing worse than creating a great document only to lose data to a power outage or dead computer battery. Also, most potential employers look for certain elements in a resume, and it is not wise to deviate from the “tried and true” best practices. Pay attention to detail, as small errors or oversights can make or break a resume. For example, one might easily overlook the file name. Save the resume in this exact format: FIRST NAME LAST NAME – RESUME. By labelling the file with one’s full name and document type, i.e., “resume,” one can be sure that the employer will not confuse the document with others of different types, and the applicant’s name will be front-and-center in capital letters.

Fourth, since the file has been saved in the proper format, it is time to add content. Put one’s name, address, phone, email, and any portfolio or LinkedIn hyperlinks centered at the top. Now it is time to fill in the main content. In general, college students will not have tons of experience in the field since most of their experience was likely gained in the classroom, though internships and other vocational activities can certainly be great to put on a resume. There are many different formats for the resume for job seekers, but for college students, the functional resume is one of the best options. (However, if one already has a great deal of experience in the desired field, feel free to use a more traditional form.) Instead of focusing on work chronology at the top of the resume, as in traditional forms, the functional resume focuses on relevant skills and abilities. Type out in bold the following heading sections: Professional Summary, Core Qualifications, Experience, Education, and a section entitled Leadership, Volunteer, or something else relevant to one’s experience (such as if one has participated in clubs, sports, committees, etc.). For the Professional Summary, write the objective for employment, i.e., “Highly dedicated and reliable ____ looking to pursue a job in ____.” Strive for three sentences describing one’s intent. Next, fill out the Core Qualifications section in bullet form, listing one’s skills, the Experience section, listing any relevant job experience (with bullet points for job duties—list three per job and dates of employment) or internships, the Education section (make sure to put graduation date and GPA), and the final section, where one should list any relevant leadership work one has participated in outside of the classroom. Once one has filled in all the sections (make sure to save the document regularly), have a person working in a professional capacity (i.e., parent, teacher, or a career-services representative) to look the document over and revise as necessary.

In today’s highly-competitive economy, having a winning resume can often be the key to getting a great job coming out of college. By following the above instructions, one can fashion a successful and professional resume designed to present one’s strengths and applicability to potential positions being offered. One can always view the resume as a work-in-progress, since it will be constantly revised throughout one’s lifetime as one gains experience and shifts job focus.