A résumé builder’s perfect résumé

The fall semester has kicked into high gear, midterms are around the corner and deadlines for spring and summer internships are rapidly approaching. The University Career Services center located on the second floor of Student Center West has résumé and cover letter services to help students offer their best selves to their prospective employers.

While the perfect résumé does not exist because each employer looks for different things, there are a few important aspects each résumé format needs to get as close as possible.

“My perfect résumé elaborates on work experience and is tailored to what you want to do,” Tia Reed, team lead at University Career Services, said.

According to the team leads in the Career Center, work experience, education, leadership, skills and extracurriculars — preferably in the same field — are the top four most important things to include in a résumé. If a student does not have work experience, they can substitute that with general experiences, such as volunteer work or coursework.

“I get students sometimes that think they have nothing to put on there,” Ashley Staine, Career Services graduate assistant, said. “Even if you’re a freshman or sophomore, you may have written a paper in your literature class but that took a certain amount of research so that’s a skill … and it still gives you something to put on there.”

According to Jasmine Daniels, another Career Services team lead, tailoring your résumé isn’t hard at all. Students should look at the job description and what the company or employer wants and apply the skills they already have that are most relevant but be sure to avoid “fluff skills.”

“Read the job description, see what they repeat multiple times and then you put that in your résumé if you have it — obviously you don’t want to lie,” Daniels said.

Including a cover letter tailored for the desired job can also make a résumé more appealing to employers. In a cover letter, applicants have the opportunity to say things that they are unable to say in a résumé. According to Staine, as you dive deeper into internships and fellowships, a cover letter is a must-have. 

“If your major is kind of broad, I would say, yeah, [having a cover letter is important] and also if your field of study does not apply to what you’re applying for,” Daniels said. 

Generic cover letters aren’t always the best route, though; many times, there are other details that are more applicable to one job than another. A cover letter needs to be formulated and directed towards the employer or company. So, it’s best to write a new one with each application. If a student is set on having a generic cover letter, team lead Tia Reed advises students to fill in the blank spaces to personalize it for each job.

“You can tell your life story if that pertains to what you want to do and it can just be full circle,” Reed said.

Tips from Ashley Staine

  1. Visit the Career Services and take advantage of the resources they provide
  2. Don’t sell yourself short — everything counts.
  3. Be confident in the things you do — you earn skills everywhere.