How to Get Your Resume Noticed—In a Good Way

By Julia Fennelly

As the person who oversees our company’s internship program, I’ve seen my fair share of student resumes… the good, the bad and the ugly. A resume is often a student’s first impression with a company and as they say, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. As such, a resume deserves a considerable amount of time and attention before being sent out to prospective employers.

As summer and graduation approach, here are a few tips for creating a new resume or polishing your existing resume:

•    Check for spelling and grammatical mistakes. This sounds like the world’s most obvious advice, but it’s always surprising how many resumes come my way with obvious spelling and grammatical errors. A student should always have someone else review his or her resume before sending it out, whether by a professional contact or the Career Services Center staff. Check for goofy formatting too.

•    Include a cover letter. In a pinch, a resume by itself is better than nothing, but a cover letter shows that a student has put additional time and effort into the application process. A cover letter offers the opportunity to explain why a candidate is a great fit for the job while highlighting key skills and accomplishments. It also provides the opportunity for candidates to demonstrate that they have done their homework and are familiar with the company. Students should approach a cover letter as a chance to say what’s not explicitly said on a resume, as well as a place to showcase a bit of personality!

•    Don’t assume I know anything.  If there is a particular accomplishment or experience that deserves explanation, it helps to include the details. For example, if a student has received an award and the name isn’t explanatory, a short description can make it stand out.

•    Showcase specific accomplishments. A good rule of thumb is to be as specific as possible when outlining school and work experiences. For example, stating an action such as “Supported the marketing team” is not as nearly as impactful as “Developed a press release for local media and a creative brochure for film enthusiasts in the community to support a local 10-day film festival.”

•    Look for opportunities to enhance your work experience. Getting an internship can be a bit of a chicken and egg situation. How can a student get an internship to improve his or her professional experience without having the professional experience to get an internship?

One way is to look for opportunities that will enhance industry-relevant experiences in areas such as writing, marketing or promotions. For example, students can seek places at school or within the community to gain writing experience (newsletters, blog posts, etc.) or get involved in organizations such as PRSSA or Ad Club. Not sure where to get started? Here is a general list of student organizations .

•    Don’t forget about social media. If a student has social media experience, I want them to tell me about it. I encourage students to include their personal Twitter handle or LinkedIn page, as long as these pages exhibit a high level of professionalism. If a student has blogging experience, they should include the platforms that they are familiar with. I don’t assume that students are comfortable with or interested in social media, but it’s a growing area of communication and worthy of inclusion on a resume.

More resources about resume writing including resume samples can be found on the Career Services Center Web site.

Julia Fennelly is a Senior Account Executive at Branigan Communications. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in advertising and public relations from Marquette University. Connect with Julia on LinkedIn or on Twitter @JuliaFennelly.

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The opinions expressed here are those of the individual authors and do not represent the views of Marquette University or the Diederich College of Communication.

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