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5 Steps to a great resume

We asked one of Internship Abroad’s placement coordinators on the best ways to write a great resume and make it stand out from the pile. His answer was simple: present a readable, direct and honest view of your professional qualifications. No tricks and no frills – just be yourself.

Here’s what he said:

1. Throw away your old resumes.

All of them – we’re starting from scratch here.

2. Brainstorm

Now, write down everything, literally everything about your professional and academic careers that might be worth mentioning. For each job, make sure to include what your day to day tasks and responsibilities were, any skills you picked up along the way and any achievements or awards you received.

Give some thought to university classes you might want to highlight. Depending on the kind of job you’re applying for, you might want to highlight that writing seminar, the elective graphic design class, or that grueling semester of economics you endured. This is especially true if applying for a job that doesn’t directly fit with your university major or specialization.

3. Think about page layout.

Design matters: look at generic resumes and pick a format that you like and that presents your skills well. Take the time to think about how you’d like to present yourself: Do you highlight education, experience or skills first? Do you want to show two of these items side-by-side? Do you include a summary? What about languages spoken, references, or your related interests?

There are a million resume guides out there, all with different advice on this. In the end, a hiring manager isn’t going to not pick you because you forgot to include the phrase ¨references available on request,” but she or he absolutely will pick you if you do a good job of showing your qualifications in a readable, direct and honest way.

And if you’ve got skills with page layout software like Scribus or Adobe InDesign, now is the time to use them.

Lastly, think about format for the job you’re applying for. Do they ask for a resume, or a CV? Remember, they are different formats! For a CV, it’s good to include all your experience, while for a resume you can pick and choose. And unless you’re a professor, public speaker or work in theatre, a resume must always fit on one page.

4. Put it all together

Now its time to put everything on the page. First, contact information. Name, phone number, email

Then, pick the most important items from your brainstorming list to include first: These will be most recent or most relevant jobs, university degree(s), and any technical skills, languages or other achievements. Then add secondary items like job tasks and relevant coursework. Finally, add the extras that you think are most necessary: a summary, references, interests or other information that better

Look for themes to highlight. If applying for a PR or marketing job or internship, highlight communications-related tasks and skills throughout your resume. If you’re aiming for an engineering post, your resume will be heavy with technical skills. All this should show you off as a great candidate for the job or internship you’re interested in, and also show your progression as a student and as a professional.

5. Revise, proofread and PDF

This is the most painstaking part of resume writing. Does everything fit on the page? Great! If not, then order different parts of your resume by importance, and then decide what to remove. Remember that your resume will almost always just be skimmed by a hiring manager, at least at first. Try to hit the important points and don’t dwell on the details.

Proofreading is a crucial step, and bad grammar or punctuational can ruin an otherwise great resume. Once you’ve got a final draft, put your resume down and go do something else for a couple hours. You’re much more likely to catch an error while proofing if you start with a fresh view, and not after two hours of writing.

Lastly, make sure you send your resume as a PDF. PDFs look more professional and mean that your resume cannot be changed by anybody except you.

That’s it—now you’ve got a great resume—good luck getting the job or internship of your dreams!

Internships Abroad offers resume help to all of our internship candidates. Contact us to find out more about a paid internship in Spain!


Feature photo under CC license via Flickr user kevygee.