How to Write your Best Resume

I think we can all agree how terrifying it can be sitting in front of a blank document, trying to come up with the most perfect way to say, Hey! Hire me! What exactly is the right thing to say when you don’t have much experience? How should you describe a leadership position, or when you volunteered several times for the same organization? Is managing a Twitter account considered a skill?!

Take a deep breath.

A resume should be a snapshot of your professional self, and even if that’s slightly inexperienced, it does not mean you’re a failure, late to the game, etc. It just means you need to tweak it a bit to show potential employers why they should care about you- because you really are awesome and definitely have something to bring to the table.

I got the amazing chance to meet Huong Nguyen, the Product Marketing Manager at Microsoft, at Her Conference. Nguyen shared with a room full of bright, ambitious girls about landing an internship with Microsoft despite not being the perfect ‘fit’ for the job, and how she worked tirelessly on her resume with the goal of showing employers that what she may have lacked in some areas, she made up for with certain skills and experiences. After telling her I was struggling with my own job/internship search, Nguyen was kind enough to work with me, giving me the most amazing tips for building an effective resume.

 

Resume Assistant on Word

“Resume Assistant helps get your creative juices flowing by showing you examples of how real people — in the fields you're interested in — describe their work experience and skills.”- Microsoft

Completely lost and don’t know where to start? I got you covered. If you have Word, search for Resume Assistant. It’s a relatively new tool that connects to LinkedIn. Type any position you’re interested in, or would like to know how to describe better, and Resume Assistant will find you actual resumes of people who have listed the specific position you’re looking for. Now, you have access to a good blueprint of what your resume should look like. You can even filter your results to include specific skills. It’s an amazing tool that is incredibly useful—and under-utilized by students. Best of all, you just need a Microsoft Office subscription to use it. Even better news? All students qualify for a free Office 365 subscription. All you have to do is enter your university email in office.com/student. No LinkedIn account needed, even though you probably should make one!

 

STAR Format

You’re a star. You know that, I know that, but do employers know that when they look over your resume? In order to get the most effective information in your resume, incorporate the STAR format. It’s actually very simple: start with a situation, a task, action and then result. So instead of saying something simple like:

Completed office tasks, such as making copies, answering emails and calls, and maintained a clean office space;

You can say it like this:

Maintained a productive office environment by making copies, delivering mail and providing customer service through emails and phone calls, thus increasing customer retention.

By providing a more thorough description of your position, and what you accomplished through it, you sound professional and experienced. You sound like someone worth hiring.

 

Layout

If you have an ugly resume, it will be noticed. If you have a disorganized resume, it will get thrown out. If you have a resume that just doesn’t make sense, you won’t get that interview. A layout is extremely important! The easiest way: make it simple and clean! Make sure it flows through; the objective is followed by your education, which then brings up your past experience, and then perhaps followed by a quick recap of your skills.

You can get away with not listing skills if you properly sprinkle them throughout your resume. That helps with also providing more room for the experience section. The same goes for memberships of organizations. If you played a role in a club, or even a sport, list it under experience! There is valuable experience in holding leadership positions, or even in just saying you dedicated a lot of time and effort to an organization by helping them out with something.

Lastly, make sure the font isn’t too small and the spacing is enough to fit everything on one page. A great resume shouldn’t be pages long; everything that matters should be able to fit on one page.

 

Go Over It…Over and Over

Nguyen and I went through my resume twice in one sitting, and then I sent it over to her after two revisions. It still had room for improvements, and that’s ok! Nothing is perfect the first time, and a resume should be constantly changing anyway. What may work for you today may not be the most necessary thing to list in a year or two. Keep updating your resume, and don’t be scared to reach out to someone for their opinion on what could be better.

In fact, one great way to get feedback is by asking employers. If they didn’t hire you, ask politely if there is anything you should be working on for your resume or interview. It’s a great way to show that you are professional, and always looking for ways to improve!

Fixing my resume after speaking to Nguyen was incredibly…relaxing. Yup, I said it. I liked fixing my resume. I felt confident, and I think that’s something everyone should feel when they’re creating something meant to represent themselves.

“I think resumes can really show a story for your career path,” Nguyen told me at one point, and I couldn't agree more.

 

For more information on Resume Assistant, click the link below: https://support.office.com/en-us/article/write-your-best-resume-with-help-from-linkedin-and-resume-assistant-444ff6f0-ef74-4a9c-9091-ffd7a9d1917a

To check out your free Office 365 subscription, go to https://products.office.com/en-US/student?ms.officeurl=student