Make your resume stand out from the rest

Ashley Hunt

We’re all busy college students. We’re working hard to pass those classes and ace those tests.

Someday, whether we can believe it or not, we’ll be done with college and out in the real world. We’ll be competing against our former classmates and our former friends for our dream job. 

Employers are going to be looking for far more than how good your grades were when they’re deciding whether to hire you or not. They want to see that you have real life experience and real life qualities that are going to be valuable and beneficial to them and to their company.

Any time people talk about working on your resume, you’ll hear “resume builders.” Here are some suggestions of ways to get involved during your college years — some might be obvious, others not as much.

There are countless of things you can do that will give you experience and that will “look good” on your resume.

1. Join a club — and take a position on that club

It’s common knowledge that joining a club at Iowa State is an automatic “resume builder.” This is for several reasons.

Joining a club, particularly in your field of study, shows your interest in that field. And as we’ve all had pounded in our heads countless times, joining a club and getting involved is so important to your career after graduation. 

To take that next step, and to get even more ahead of your competition, try taking a position on that club. Run for president or treasurer or social chair. If that doesn’t work out, try simply joining the fundraising committee within that club.

By actually holding a position on that club, employers can see that you didn’t just get involved for the sake of getting involved. You had the drive and the motivation to take it to the next level, and it shows a real passion for that industry. 

Also, it shows an immense amount of leadership. Leadership abilities are key in the workplace. Employers are looking for team leaders, and they’re looking for people who are responsible enough to lead a team, while at the same time being a member of that team. 

2. Become a tutor or a teaching assistant

Remember that course that just came really easily to you? You really understood what was going on. Well, if you’ve got a course like that under your belt,  perhaps you should think about becoming a tutor or a teaching assistant. 

Listing tutor as one of your experiences on your resume shows employers that you have communications skills. As a tutor, you will be doing a lot of one-on-one communication and small group communication.

Being an effective small group communicator is essential in the work place. Face to face communication will always be the most effective and used form of communication. 

As a teaching assistant, you’ll be showing off your large group communication skills more. Teaching assistants often have to stand in front of classrooms filled with up to 300 students.

This takes courage, and it takes effective communication skills. When speaking in front of large groups of people, you have to take different approaches with your communication style as opposed to small group communication styles. 

Both of these positions listed on your resume not only shows employers your excellent communication skills, but your time management and responsibility skills.

Time management is key when juggling your own personal school work alongside meeting another student to help them with theirs.

3. Work on a student publication

Yes, I’m a little biased — as I work for the Iowa State Daily which is a student publication — but it provides endless benefits.

There are a ton of other student publications offered on campus as well. Working for any type of student publication gives you many different benefits.

First, with a student publication experience listed on your resume, employers will see that you understand deadlines. This is key for any job.

As a writer, designer or any other position on any student publication, you’ll have deadlines to get in your content or get your production finished. In the workplace, in any career, you’ll have deadlines — such as getting that financial report in on time or pitching a presentation on a certain date. 

In addition to understanding deadlines, as a writer, editor or copy editor, you’ll be working with words a lot. Employers will see that you have experience with a student publication, magazine or newspaper and they’ll know that you can understand more than basic grammar.

It might seem like everyone knows basic grammar, but there are always a few graduates that seem to have missed the memo.

Lastly, working in a student publication, you’ll get so much interview experience you won’t know what to do with it.

Reporters are always interviewing a new source for their next story. Although, as a reporter, you’ll be the interviewer rather than the interviewee, you’ll have enough experience in interviews that you’ll have seen it all by the time it comes time for you to begin interviewing for careers.

You’ll learn to think on your feet and you’ll really be able to wow your interviewer when you’re trying to land that dream job.

4. Work the Career Fair

This may be something many students have never considered. Working the Career Fair holds endless opportunities for a student. Students can apply online prior to each Career Fair, and then interview to become a Career Fair Ambassador.

Career Fair Ambassadors help with general activities through out the day. Your responsibilities include greeting students as they enter the fair, helping employers with set-up and tear-down and being of assistance to the Career Fair attendees throughout the event. 

As an ambassador, students will have opportunities to have discussions with employers one-on-one outside of the typical Career Fair setting. Students won’t have to worry about being distracted by the hustle and bustle of other students attending the fair or waiting in line to get their chance to talk to an employer. 

We all know first impressions mean everything. Career Fair Ambassadors get a first impression that is different from the other hundreds of students just attending the fair.

You get that extra opportunity to really make a special first impression with that employer, and a better chance that the employer will remember you after the Career Fair is over and done. 

In this day and age, we’ve all heard that “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Networking opportunities are extremely important, and the opportunity to network with the large amount of employers present at the Career Fair is priceless. 

Plus, as a Career Fair Ambassador, you get a free t-shirt.

5. Study Abroad

Most students have heard about what an amazing, once in a lifetime experience studying abroad can be. It can be life changing. It can be something you’ll never forget. It can also provide you with long term benefits you’ll continue to see down the road. 

When employers see on your resume that you’ve studied abroad, there are countless things they can infer about you before even talking to you. They’ll be able to see that you’re willing to take risks and that you’re not afraid to step outside of your comfort zone.

Living in another country, for any amount of time, is no walk in the park. You’re in an unfamiliar place, often time with no familiar faces. This is a great quality to have in the work place — sometimes you’ll need to take risks and step outside of your comfort zone, such as tackling an unfamiliar project with unfamiliar people.

Having a study abroad experience under your belt also shows that you can be independent. When you’re in another country, alone, you don’t have your mom and dad right there to depend on. You’ll grow up a lot and you’ll learn a lot about living on your own and taking life on by yourself.

You’ll also show that you can work with people who aren’t necessarily like you. You’re in a different culture, and more than likely, you’ll meet people and work with people that have little or nothing in common with you.

That will be true in the work force too. You don’t get to choose your coworkers are, so chances are, there are going to be at least a few that are completely different from you — and you’ll still have to work with them.

Trevor Nelson, director of the ISU Study Abroad Center, offered his thoughts on how studying abroad can provide benefits.

“I think that studying abroad can really set a student’s resume apart from other resumes that possible employers may be reviewing,” Nelson said.

However, students can’t always just assume that the employer will understand how studying abroad benefited you. Whichever aspect of a student’s development, whether in independence, maturity, a better understanding of the world or a greater fluency in a second language, is relevant, that student needs to spell it out. 

“I think when students have it specifically spelled out on their resume, their resume looks much more impressive,” Nelson said. “When you’ve identified the specific skills you have required because of that study abroad experience, employers will notice.”

So, when you’re perfecting that resume and looking for some more things to list under your experience section, remember that opportunities come in all shapes and sizes.