Whether you’re graduating from college soon or want to nab the perfect internship, it’s always a good idea to have a solid résumé tuned up and ready to go when opportunity strikes!

But where do you start? First and foremost, pay the career center at your college a visit. Here at FRCC, our career services staff at each campus can work with you to improve the draft you have—or help you get started if don’t have a résumé yet and you’re drawing a blank.

If you want to get something on paper now, here are five tips for writing a killer résumé:

1.      Pick the Best Format.

The structure of your résumé can make or break it. If you don’t have much (or any) work history, a chronological résumé—which begins with the most recent job and works backwards—probably doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Instead, a functional résumé that focuses on strengths and skills might better articulate your goals and where you would fit best in an organization. Whatever format you choose, don’t get too creative. Stick to one that describes your experience. And remember: One page is best unless you’re very experienced. (If you are, then front-and-back is considered acceptable.)

2.      Keep It Relevant.

Share your absolute best accomplishments and most important skills—those that are especially applicable to the job you want. It’s OK if you’re not listing every single detail of your experience. (That would make for an overly long résumé, which is not the best way to showcase yourself.) Aim for relevancy. Be concise. Quality over quantity!

3.      Make Clear What Job You’re Qualified For.

Your résumé is not a place to be unclear. If you’re looking to make a career change, consider a summary statement at the top that lays out those goals. If you’re seeking a particular position, do your best to tell the story—through your prior experience— that shows why you would make a great candidate for this job.

Think about the jobs that most interest you—and consider what those employers are seeking. Do a little research on open positions in the market. Then, highlight the assets you bring to the table that make you a good fit for the job.

4.      Focus on Accomplishments, Not Duties.

Job duties are important, and you should certainly list those that demonstrate your career progression and knowledge. But whenever possible, give context to your job duties. What did you actually achieve in each position? How did your efforts make a difference in your organization?

5.      Students: Emphasize Your Academic Accomplishments.

If you haven’t had any professional experience yet, don’t worry. List your GPA, degree, volunteer experience, and other skills you’ve acquired in classes. Don’t forget to include extracurricular involvement that is relevant to your future career path. And if you’ve won any awards or scholarships, those are important to include as well.

First Impressions Matter

Your résumé is your chance to introduce yourself to a future employer. It can help you stand out from the masses—or push you into the background. To get their attention, take the time to craft something compelling, concise, and relevant to the job(s) you want.

Don’t worry if you don’t have years of experience under your belt. Everyone starts somewhere. Make your résumé professional and sharp, follow up on job applications, and be persistent. Don’t give up—and you’ll find opportunities that are right for you. Good luck on your job search!

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