Earlier this week, we were fortunate to have Susan Barr from Wayne State University Career Services speak to our members about building a résumé. Being responsible for professional development for our chapter, I felt it was crucial to go back to the fundamentals and look at the very first thing every member should have – a résumé. It’s the first skill that everyone should have mastered, yet I think too often we neglect the importance of knowing how to create a well-rounded résumé.
I know that creating a résumé can be tedious. Susan recommended starting with generating an inventory of everything you’ve ever attempted. Include skills, interests, education, activities, employment, volunteer work, etc. With school, she said to include specific projects you’ve worked on that may be of interest to a future employer. Once you’ve catalogued everything, it’s much easier to pick and choose what you want to put on your actual résumé and how you want to organize it.
The presentation also included five writing tips that everyone should keep in mind when creating their résumé. They are:
- Use an exact figure whenever you can. For example: “I helped bring in 12 new clients.” (Instead of “I helped bring in a number of new clients.”).
- Use a superlative whenever you can. For example: “I was the first employee to recommend using social media.”
- Focus on accomplishments, not routine duties.
- Write long on your first draft (and edit later.)
- Use ACTION verbs. For example: Created, launched, revitalized, etc.
Susan also gave us a list of résumé power words. She recommended replacing common, sometimes boring words with more exciting and attention grabbing words that leave a better impression and prove your worth. Some of my favorites are:
Another thing to keep in mind is that your actions transcend your résumé. Once a potential employer is interested in your résumé, he or she will likely do more research on you. This means that you MUST MUST MUST keep your social media pages appropriate. We are fortunate that social media is such a growing industry and closely associated with public relations, but know what you put online can reach important people. Nevertheless, use social media to your advantage. Connect with professionals on Twitter, and use Twitter to learn more about industries that interest you. Don’t put inappropriate pictures on Facebook, because more likely than not, it will end up hurting your chances of getting a job. Another thing Susan talked about that we don’t always consider is your voicemail message. Even if you have a great ring tone or a funny message, change it while you’re applying for jobs. The last thing you want is for a PR agency to call you for an interview and end up having them listen to Ke$ha for 30 seconds.
Remember that you won’t be able to fit everything in your résumé. It’s a great preview of who you are, but it’s not going to show how truly great you are. Use your cover letter as an opportunity to show some creativity and individuality. Employers know that they can only learn so much from a piece of paper, but don’t let your piece of paper be forgotten.
Career Services is free to all Wayne State students. It is located in room 1001 in the Faculty/Administration Building. They encourage students to set up appointments for résumé reviews and critiques. They also have an online job database – Career Services Online – with thousands of job postings. Once you register – for free – on CSO, you can upload your résumé and look for jobs that interest you.
For more information on Career Services, visit their website at http://www.stuaffrs.wayne.edu/ or call 313.577.3390 to set up an appointment.
Posted by Erica Rogers, VP Professional Development Wayne State PRSSA