Tips for creating an effective resume

Creating a resume can be stressful, especially for college students. Whether you are applying to internships or hoping to start the next chapter in your life, making sure your resume looks good is important. Potential employers will look at everything, from the document’s organization to the content you include, so it is important to pay attention to every detail.

The first thing to look at when creating your resume is how the document will look. Having the page be visually appealing will make you seem more serious and show future employers that you care. However, too many bright colors and graphics can make you seem unprofessional. It is best to find a happy medium between the two.

Having bold headings and separate sections on a page but keeping the colors pretty basic is always a good place to start. The different sections will draw employers’ eyes to multiple parts of your resume rather than just one big section of information. For example, if all they want to know is what experience you have, they could look at a section you have dedicated to that subject.

“Confidence is key; you will need [a resume] for everything,” said Nicole Priori, a senior majoring in psychology. “Keep it updated; I’ve had mine for five years, so it’s gone through a lot of changes.”

Most of a resume will likely be made up of past experience and relevant skills. Past experience does not have to be related to the job you are applying for. It is still important to include because it shows you have experience in a workplace environment. Be sure to include a short description of the tasks you performed in a particular job and the dates of your employment.

Having a section of relevant skills is also crucial. If a job requires knowledge of Microsoft Excel, you want to make it known you have that skill. If a future employer already knows your qualifications, it minimizes the need for basic questions to be asked in an interview and opens the door to more discussion about the actual position.

“I personally struggle with when to let things go, and I think many people feel the same way,” Priori said. “You spend all these years making it what it is, a good GPA and volunteering, and then you are just supposed to discard all of it the second a university accepts you. I don’t agree with this. I have definitely trimmed mine down from high school but if I think it’s important enough, I’m keeping it. At this point, it’s an important part of who I am.”

Another thing that can be particularly helpful is a section for relevant coursework. Many college students are searching for a job relating to their major for the first time in their lives. This section can show employers that you have relevant experience in a particular subject despite not having any prior employment in the field.

Iowa State also offers resources to help you create your resume. These include academic advisors and ISU Career Services. They will meet with students individually and also host several workshops throughout the school year related to resume writing.