Writing the right resume in an intimidating job market

Richard Kelly

Resumes can make the difference between snagging a job or not. Unfortunately, many people haven’t been properly introduced to the correct ways of writing one.

Strong resumes for undergraduate and graduate students usually include the student’s major of study, a cumulative GPA, work experience and internships. The list doesn’t end there, but there are some attributes about the applicant which are optional, whereas some are required by employers.

“It’s definitely important to be experienced and have understanding within the field that you want to get employed in and have that show on your resume,” said Ruth Marstall, a recruiter at Westar Energy in Topeka.

Being experienced doesn’t always mean working in the field in which the job is located. Many employers will also look at any time spent volunteering by the applicant whether and he or she has worked in a field that is at least correlative to the position being applied for.

“Volunteering is definitely important,” said Megan DiGiovanni, a recruiter in Human Services at CoreFirst Bank and Trust. “I don’t usually hire someone who only has volunteer experience, but having a combination of both that and work experience can help prove very beneficial. There is so much that can be learned through the value of volunteering.”

Although the size of the paper, font and margins are all important factors to consider when writing a resume, many applicants put too much emphasis on these things. It can enhance the appearance of the resume, but it is not the key to getting hired. Still, always be sure to use proper grammar and margins when creating a resume.

“Many people have this misconception on what makes a resume stand out,” said Kent McAnally, director of Career Services. “You could have the prettiest resume in the world, but if it’s without content, then you’re not going to get the job.”

Using relevant information can also make a difference in creating a strong resume. If there is information that is not relevant or timely, it shouldn’t be mentioned on the resume.

“If you won a spelling bee in 7th grade, regardless of the fact that’s a feat, you shouldn’t put it on your resume,” said McAnally. “Also, if you’re going to put accomplishments from high school, only do it if it’s only been a few years since you graduated, so that it’s still timely.”

However, if there have been accomplishments within recent years that don’t necessarily have to do with the job field, but they show quality characteristics, some employers think they should be mentioned. Mike Valdivia, manager of corporate staffing for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas, shares that sentiment.

“If you’ve been the president of an organization or club at school in the recent years, or even just a member, that’s definitely something we want to see on a resume,” said Valdivia.

While most employers require an applicant to undergo an interview as well, a strong resume can help set someone apart. McAnally emphasized looking over the resume numerous times to catch typos and small mistakes, and if help is needed writing it, don’t hesitate to ask for it.

“If you’re a student at Washburn, [Career Services is] the place to go. I can’t emphasize enough, we’re here to help students,” said McAnally. “Even if you don’t go to Washburn, there are places to get help writing your resume. Don’t try to write it all on your own.”