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.