Tag Archives: resume building

Resume Building

The first helpful piece of advice I received via the communication department was how to create a professional looking resume.  The first step is to look up examples of resumes other people have done by either looking at examples provided by the career center or doing an Internet search.  After reviewing several, look at the format of the different resumes and try to determine which you like best.  Or, you could mix and match different layouts and pick the parts you like best from a few like I did.

Once you have come up with the format of how you want to layout your information, you next want to decide on the design.  Make sure you use one easy to read font, and make sure the font size is large enough for the same reason.  You must also ensure the resume doesn’t look cluttered and contains enough white space.  You may want to use spot color to make the resume more eye catching, or if you are applying for creative jobs you may want to show off your design skills.

Keep in mind, however, that if you are not applying for a creative job or a business that would appreciate your design and creativity, it is best to keep a simple, professional looking layout.  Potential employers are more interested in something that is easy to read and lists your qualifications than something that looks eye-catching and creative; also, many “creative” resumes I’ve seen posted can get too busy or use small font that is more difficult to read.  If you do go the creative route, try to make sure to balance between professionalism and creativity – remember, in the end the most important thing is letting the reader know your qualifications.  Purdue’s online writing center has some great design tips along with links to other resume building advice if you would like a place to get basic ideas.

After you have finished your first draft for your resume, the next step is to let people read it.  Show it to friends, family, and professors in order to see if they spot any errors, give advice on how to structure it better, or let you know if any of the wording needs to be adjusted.  The next step after that is to bring it to a career center to have an adviser look at it, or to bring it to a resume building workshop or conference.  The more people that look at your resume and give you advice, the better product you will wind up with.  Keep in mind, however, that a lot of the advice will be the particular person’s personal preference.  If you do not agree with the advice, do not make the changes.  Hopefully, by the end of this process you will have a professional looking resume that will catch the eye of potential employers.

You will also want to follow a similar process to build a cover letter.  A cover letter should always be sent in with a resume, for you can use it to explain in more detail how your skills and experience can be a perfect fit for the position you are applying for.  You will want to keep your cover letter at one page, however, just like your resume.  While there may be many reasons you could provide for why you should get the job, the potential employer will be sorting through many other cover letters and resumes and may toss yours if they think it will take too long to read.  Remember, most of them have other work to do besides hiring new employees, and probably consider the hiring process secondary to their main job.  You do not want to take up too much of their time.


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Communication to the rescue!


In my last post, I discussed some of the difficulty I had during my junior and senior year trying to prepare for life after graduation.  I also mentioned how it wasn’t until I turned to my communication professors that I received the help I needed.  My next series of posts are going to talk specifically about the advice and help they gave me, while also going over how I utilized their advice.  You can also turn to my 10 Things posts in order to see other advice about the job search and grad school.

The upcoming topics I am going to cover are:

1. Resume building

2. Networking

3. Portfolio building

4. Internships

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Hey, girl I don’t know~

When I finally started my first semester at South Alabama, I had enough credits to count as a junior.  Thus, I was finally at the point in my college career where I had to start making decisions about what I would be doing after college.  Would I start thinking about graduate school, or would I start preparing for the job search?  Really, you should already be thinking about both before now and getting ready through jobs, community service, and other organizations.  However, it probably isn’t until your junior or senior year that it really hits you that life is about to change for you soon and you need to be ready for it.

The first place I turned to for help was my college adviser.  I had decided based on research, that really getting a higher level degree in English would probably be a waste of time, unless I wanted to become a college professor.  Most jobs that I was interested in are based upon experience, so after graduation I wanted to get an entry level job and start building up from there.  However, I didn’t know what the process I needed to take to really get prepared for the job search; I had only had part-time/seasonal and tutoring jobs up to that point and didn’t know what I would need to do for a career.  Unfortunately for me, my adviser couldn’t really help since she had taken the graduate school route.  I soon found my other English professors I turned to for help also couldn’t help for a similar reason; they didn’t have much experience outside of academia.  All they could really do was act as a reference for me and give suggestions about graduate school (pretty much all of my professors, English or otherwise, pressured me into going that route.  Honestly, now that I’ve had some time out of college, I’m seriously reconsidering it).

But, at the time, I was burnt out from school and thought going for the job was the better option, so I really felt frustrated that I wasn’t finding help in the English department.  Since then, I’ve learned that a great place to turn to for help is the career center; the career center for your school has advisers that can give you specific job seeking help and will have conferences and workshops that provide resume help and networking opportunities.  The place I turned to, however, wound up being the communication department, and that will be the topic of my next post.

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The Real World: Part II

Tip #4: Build Your Portfolio

The reason why I actually got my internship (which has led to my full time job) is at my job interview I brought my portfolio to show my boss.  My portfolio contained examples of projects in my InDesign and advertising classes, pieces I had written for the communication department’s newsletter, and memos I had written for classes among other things.  You could include papers to give an example of your writing and editing skill or you could bring in a literary magazine/school newspaper with the article or piece you wrote for it.  If you want a job more related to art or design you could bring in examples of your work.  If you’re a business minor and you had a big end of the year project you can bring in the portfolio for that.  Any time you bring an example of the skills or work you have done it gives your possible future employer an example of the type of work you can do and it may give you that extra edge to get the job.

Tip #5: Prep for Interviews

The more experience you have doing interviews, the more comfortable and prepared you will be for them.  You can practice interviewing by having your friend practice with you, talking in front of a mirror, or going to job fairs.  Job fairs are also a great place to get resume tips and to network with possible future employers.

In fact, one reason why you should join different organizations is they sometimes have events where you can network with people.  For instance, I went to some PR conferences while in college and am involved in Sigma Tau Delta (the English International Honor Society) which has a yearly conference.  Conferences are great places to network, have people critique your resume, and practice talking to people/interviewing.  The more you throw yourself out there and gain contacts, the more likely chance you have to land yourself a job.

Here are some interview tips from the PowerPoint:

  1. Dress in a suit or conservative dress attire. No visible piercings or gaudy jewelry. Minimal is more
  2. Bring a pen and writing pad – if possible, get a professional portfolio for them.
  3. Practice potential interview questions before the big moment, on a friend or in front of the mirror.
  4. Have questions of your own to ask your interviewers, either about the company or your position. This shows engagement and interest.  This means researching the company you are interviewing for.

Tip #6: Never Give Up!

If your job interview didn’t go well or you didn’t get the job then don’t let it get you down.  By simply going to the interview you have gained valuable job interview experience.  The more job interviews you go to, the more you get exposed to different types of questions and interview styles so in the future you can prepare for them better.  After an interview you should assess what you did well and maybe some questions you could have answered a little better.  If you didn’t have enough job experience, go out there and build up your resume more.  Use the interview as a learning tool so the next time you go in for an interview you do it better and increase your chances of beating out the competition.

If you missed the first part of this post, you can find it here.

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The Real World: How to begin preparing for a career Out There while you’re still In Here

This post is dedicated to those like me that may not want to go to grad school right after graduation.  Maybe you want to work first to pay off your student loans.  Maybe you don’t want to teach and you’ve realized that if you go to grad school for English you’re pretty much going to get your Ph.D and become an English professor.  Whatever the reason, there are things you can do to prepare yourself for the job search while still working on your undergraduate degree.  I’m going to use tips from the PowerPoint and based on my own experience to hopefully help you get prepared for that job after graduation.

Tip # 1: Strategy

Try to figure out now what types of careers you are interested in.  You can use this post to get some ideas of possible job choices for English majors, but don’t limit yourself here.  There are lots of different ways you can use your English degree.

Tip #2: Experience

You should start gaining experience for your resume; experience is very important and can be just as useful (if not more so) than a degree.  Experience helps you gain skills to market yourself and also helps you gain contacts that can land you your job.

Ways that you can gain experience include writing or editing for your school’s literary magazine or newspaper.  I did both in high school and college since I knew I wanted a job related to writing and/or publishing.  You can also start a blog or send in articles to online or local newspapers or magazines.  If you’re interested in secretarial or office work then get position as a student worker for a departmental office.  See if the English department is hiring student workers to do desk work for them.  If you’re interested in law then try to get an internship at a law office.  There are lots of different avenues you can go to find ways to spruce up your resume.

Tip #3: Build your Resume

Make sure you get involved in different activities so you can gain skills that you can use to market yourself.  If you want to prove you have leadership capability, get a position as an officer in a club or run for a position in the SGA.  I was always involved in different clubs in college and usually wound up working as an officer since it meant I was more involved.  Learning a foreign language can be very important depending on the field you want to go into; Spanish can be useful if you live in an area with a large Hispanic population and French is used a lot in business.  If you want to do something related to foreign relations or study then you should definitely learn the language of the country you are interested in working in/with.

You can also learn special skills related to the field you are interested in.  For example, I learned how to use design programs such as Adobe InDesign and Adobe Illustrator because I wanted to work in fields such as advertising and public relations where you have to design and create publications.  Knowing how to use Microsoft Office products such as Word, PowerPoint, and Excel are also useful if you want a job in business.  Another important area you can focus on is community service.  Community service work for different organizations and non-profits is not only spiritually rewarding it can also lead to important contacts and experience for future jobs.

Now, the other important part of building your resume is good design.  If your resume is visually pleasing that can be the difference between your future boss actually looking at the document or throwing it in the discard pile.  You also want to make sure that there are no spelling or grammar errors on your resume; many times if a potential employer spots an error, that resume is going to be thrown away and forgotten.  Try to have as many eyes see your resume before sending it in – I had some of my professors help me build and proof mine because I wanted it to be the best it can be.  And remember, your resume is a living document – you will be constantly adding on to it and revising it as time progresses.  You want to make sure you tailor your resume for the job you are applying for.  I am going to provide an example of the resume I used to get my internship – I made sure I put information relevant to the job first and picked the clubs and activities I had been involved in at college that were relevant to the job on there.

Example Resume

If you want to read more job search tips, continue on to Part II.

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