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5 Tips for a Better Resume

In front of me sits a very important document. Someone has spent hours brainstorming, revising, and working on it so that it will be absolutely perfect. Despite its short length, this singular piece of paper seems sacred and noble. As a Peer Career Advisor at Beyond Barnard, I’m privileged to guide many Barnard students along the formative journey of developing their resumes. Below, I’ve listed some resume advice I commonly find myself giving to students.

Breathe. Everything will be okay.
Many students tend to feel overwhelmed when they think about their resume. They don’t know if their resume is good enough; maybe they don’t have the experience needed for a job, don’t know how to best format their resume, or simply don’t know where to start. These things are normal! Before doing anything else, my first piece of advice is take a deep breath, because you’ll be okay. You were accepted to Barnard for a reason – you’re already on the right track. Don’t let your uncertainty take center stage. 

Proofread, and then proofread again.
Please don’t make careless mistakes that could be avoided if you read over your work. Mistakes such as spelling errors or grammatical mistakes can raise red flags to recruiters and hiring managers. Taking the time to check for minor mistakes might be the difference between getting your resume thrown in the trash and getting hired. Ask a trustworthy friend to look it over for you! 

Formatting matters.
No one wants to see a resume with a bizarre font or layout – it’s not fun or quirky, it’s unprofessional. Keep your resume concise and straightforward to draw attention to what you’ve written, not how you’ve written it. 

Be detailed and specific – show off how awesome you are! 
Don’t just write your job title; include responsibilities, leadership opportunities, and relevant accomplishments. This will set you apart from other job applicants and ensure that you have a unique skill set to offer. Quantify your results by including figures about the work you did – it makes your achievements more tangible. 

Reference the qualifications or skills that a company is seeking in an applicant.
To ensure you have the best shot at securing a job, go to the company’s website and do some research. Go to your position’s description and connect your experiences with what the company is looking for. Doing a little homework on the job you’re applying for can change your resume from being “one size fits all” into being tailored and specific – and a targeted resume is much more likely to be a successful one. If you’re having trouble connecting your skills with a job’s requirements, consider looking for other jobs or speaking to someone who works there to gain additional information.

These are just a few ways you can enhance your resume – this list is far from complete. My most helpful tip is to utilize your resources: especially Beyond Barnard and the PCAs. These on-campus assets are invaluable for finding jobs, creating resumes, setting up LinkedIn, and anything else career-related.  

Lily Cai

Columbia Barnard '23

Lily is a sophomore at Barnard College, intending to double major in economics and computer science. Apart from school, she loves trying out new food and cuisines. She also enjoys listening to music, reading books, and watching Netflix. Lily would love to meet new people and feel free to reach out to her!
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