How to Write a Competitive Resume

25 Aug
Source: Bob Zahn

Source: Bob Zahn

It’s that time of year again! The time when thousands of college students head back to school and start looking for their next internship opportunity; however, with so much competition it is absolutely necessary to have a killer resume.

Don’t be one of the hundreds of candidates that never make it past the elimination round. Follow my tips and the next time you send in a resume, it’ll be a winner.

Tip #1: Show off your assets. Yeah, you heard me. And no, not like that. The very first thing that goes on your resume (below your name and contact info) should be the experiences that make you valuable to the company. What is unique to you and only you are the positions you’ve held that prove you can do the job you are applying for. Not your education or your skills. Put your experiences at the top.

Here’s how your resume should go:

  • Name and contact
  • Past Experiences (See tip #2 and #3)
  • Skills (See tip #4)
  • Education

Tip #2: Please Elaborate. While it’s great that you’ve used Facebook and Twitter for client x during your last internship, so have hundreds of others. Want to really stand out? Tell the employer how you used social media. What did you use it for? For example:

  • Position: Social Media Intern
  • Responsible for managing client social media channels to drive awareness about product offerings and build relationships with industry influencers through proactive and reactive content

Elaborating on your tasks shows employers that you worked with purpose, that you understood why you were doing what you did. That is powerful, my friends.

Tip #3: Let’s see the results. You can have the most boring job in the world, but your mission in writing your resume is to dazzle the employer, impress them, show them you are valuable. Talking about the results of your past work shows employers that you made an impact and contributed to the success of the company.

Building on the last example, you could add a second bullet:

  • Position: Social Media Intern
  • Responsible for managing client social media channels to drive awareness about product offerings and build relationships with industry influencers
  • Increased client X’s followers by 20% in 6 months by interacting with prospective customers, identified through social media listening

Tip #4: Keep skills relevant to the position. The skills section in a lot of resumes tends to become a dumping spot for all the software in the world that the student knows how to use. Don’t Do That! It is likely that the job description you reviewed will have skills requirements within. This is where you reinforce the fact that you are right for the job by placing the skills you have that match the job requirements.

For example, if you’re applying for a social media position and the job description requires a knowledge of social media tools, add in the platforms you know how to use (Hootsuite, Radian6, Facebook ads, etc.). If the job requires graphic design, make sure you include you know how to use Photoshop. You get the idea.

Tip #5: Back that thing up. Writing a competitive resume also means that you need to be prepared to talk about everything you’ve included. When writing your resume, think about the things you can talk about that support what you’ve done. Ask yourself: “How does this position prove I am the BEST person for the job?” Doing this will allow you to pick the right details to include within your resume, and prepare you to talk about those details during the interview.

Bonus Tip: Don’t send the same resume to every position. Just as every job description is slightly different, so too should your resume (and cover letter) be. Always make sure that your resume matches the job description of the position you are applying to. I promise, it is apparent when you haven’t customized your resume for the position. And, of course, proof read (several times).

Now, go get those interviews! Have questions? Leave a comment below.

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4 Responses to “How to Write a Competitive Resume”

  1. Sachin Arora (@Big_Such) September 4, 2013 at 12:36 am #

    Very good advice. Any cover letter advice =)

    • Samantha Afetian September 16, 2013 at 9:29 am #

      Hmm… Possibly a follow up post? 🙂 I’ll think about it.

  2. Claire Aumuller September 16, 2013 at 2:22 am #

    Hi Samantha, my name’s Claire Aumuller.
    I just wanted to let you know that I’m using your blog in a report that I’m writing for my Digital Communication course at uni! I had to make my own blog on WordPress for the assessment and my next assignment is to review a fellow student’s blog and juxtapose it with two other professional ones.
    The assignment has to incorporate narrative theory and an interpretation of the author’s story they are trying to present so I thought I’d ask you; would you say your blog is an accurate representation of you as a PR professional?
    Is this something you do for your own enjoyment and do you use this as a site to appeal to possible clients?

    • Samantha Afetian September 16, 2013 at 9:28 am #

      Hi Claire,

      Thank you for your interest in my blog. Below you will find answers to your questions:

      Would you say your blog is an accurate representation of you as a PR professional?
      > I began writing this blog while I was still in college, interning and prepping for a full-time job after graduation. Now that I am out of school, it no longer represents me as a professional, but rather explores the landscape of the industry. I’m not actually in public relations right now. I am a social media strategist at an advertising field; however, I believe that the marketing and PR industries as a whole are cross-functional professions, and students need to prepare accordingly in order to succeed. That is why I write this blog.

      Is this something you do for your own enjoyment and do you use this as a site to appeal to possible clients?
      > As I mentioned, this blog is geared more towards students and young professionals just coming up in the industry. I don’t believe many potential clients are looking for the topics I discuss on this blog. For that, I write for the company blog (sometimes reference here). I suppose then that I write for my own enjoyment, hoping that it will benefit someone who was once in my shoes.

      Best of luck on your paper!
      -Samantha

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