Most would agree that the first step to getting a job is submitting a resume. Simply put, a resume is your chance to say to an employer, “I’m awesome.” It is a very important opportunity to exemplify what you do best and make clear why you are the best choice for a job.
Students may not have many career-related experiences to put on their resume. More likely, as an undergraduate student, they have spent their time in part-time jobs, balancing schoolwork, and taking part in extra-curricular activities. On the bright side, one thing that every student has that employers are looking for are skills. As published by the National Association of College and Employers Research in 2011, here is a list of the top skills employers are looking for today:
Because I am a student myself, I feel confident in saying that most undergraduates have at least a few of these skills. Editor’s note (2017): the NACE Top Skills & Qualities that Employers Seek list has not changed much from when this post was originally published. Each Fall, NACE publishes the Job Outlook, which has an updated list.
In order to appeal to your future boss, I would recommend showing off those skills! Here are a few examples that may apply to your specific situation.
Scenario 1: I am very active in intramural sports; I have been a captain of a basketball team for two years.
On your résumé:
- initiate team practices on a weekly basis
- facilitate plays during the game according to unique circumstances
- communicate with a team of 15 people in order to relay information about game times and locations
Skills shown: leadership, initiative, and communication
Scenario 2: I have not had an internship but in class I do a lot of projects related to my major.
On your résumé:
- present to a class of 45 students using Microsoft Office PowerPoint
- organize group meeting times for six people outside of class time
- assign roles to group members
- create a written portfolio that includes an essay, spreadsheet, and graphs for readability
Skills shown: oral communication skills, leadership skills, and written communication skills
As you can see, no matter what experiences you have, related to your career choice or not, there is still a way to market yourself to employers on a resume. Not having relevant experience does not make you unqualified, especially for entry-level positions. If you learn how to showcase your skills you will be in great shape! Think creatively about the things you have done and be honest about what you have taken away from them. Good luck!
Want to have your resume reviewed? Stop by the Career & Internship Services office (SCC 22) for Resume Drop-ins, Tuesdays & Wednesdays, 2-4pm.