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How to Express Yourself on Your Resume

So, you made it through the first wave of midterms and now it’s time for spring break! What a relief. Chances are you’re going to be using the upcoming week to relax, grab coffee with friends, and more than likely, scour the internet (and Handshake) for summer internship opportunities. Applying to jobs can be daunting, but don’t get overwhelmed yet. The key to every solid, successful job application? A solid, successful resume.

Now, do not let the dread that usually accompanies resume-crafting sink in just yet. Every student–and potential job candidate—has a past to share, a story to dissect, and a personality to explore. So, how do you display this on your resume? Here are a few tips to help.

1. Try to highlight parts of your past that you feel best define you.

At first, this can seem challenging. Your experiences are not character traits—so how do you use them to your advantage? The answer lies in self-reflection.. Think back to all the clubs or programs you have done. Which ones did you genuinely enjoy being a part of? The ones you did because you felt ardent towards the message, the program that impacted you just as much as you impacted it? These are the markers of your interests, and being able to identify and discuss your interests makes you a more attractive candidate. Not only that, but often you will be able to leverage these past experiences, finding parallels to the position you are applying for currently. Being able to identify your passions and demonstrate to potential employers how your passions apply to the position you are applying for is key. Instead of simply regurgitating the past few years of your life, carefully construct your resume with information that paints the picture of who you are.

 2. Don’t be afraid to personalize the presentation.

I have no idea where the idea was born that resumes have to be boring, black and white, 11-pt Arial font. Google Docs and Word did not bless us with a full array of colors to play with if we were not meant to use them. Employers are going to be sifting through applications for hours, from a plethora of qualified individuals with boring style choices. Let your presentation skills shine! Play around with different fonts. Perfect the modern look and chic color scheme without it looking overtly tacky or immature. You do not need to take a graphic design class in order to have a fun document to look at. We all were once professionals at personalizing our Tumblr pages; surely our resumes could benefit all the same. Just remember to make sure your resume is still easy to read.

3.  Instead of listing your skills, list your personality traits.

Of course, it is always important to mention certain abilities you have, such as being skilled in Adobe software or a certain coding language, that will assist you in the position you are applying for. However, simply listing “organized” or “responsible” is not going to make you stand out from the pack. Try unearthing what you feel characterizes you, not just as an employee but as a friend, a person, or a peer. Do you find yourself to be approachable? Do you feel strong communication is high on your list of values? What morals do you carry? These are all significant in the work environment, whether or not we realize it. Let them shine on your resume, and land you that interview.

Applying to internships and jobs can be anxiety-inducing, especially when it feels like you’re having to reduce your entire personality to just words on a page.. Try to relax—nobody finds that perfect job right away, regardless of how cute the font on their resume is. Navigating the world of employment is tricky, but like everything else, you should take it one step at a time. So go out there and get to typing that stellar resume; but more importantly, make sure you have a good spring break!

Think you’ve got a handle on your resume now? Want to learn how to make an impression in person? Check out our tips on how to make your interviewer your friend!

Mehek Boparai is a current freshman at the University of Pennsylvania, in the College of Arts and Sciences. She's an English major on a Pre-Medical track but in between reading Jane Austen or her bio textbook she loves writing poetry, watching old films, and doing fun photoshoots. She's a huge sunset enthusiast and hopes one day to live in an area of large open fields and flowers.
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