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Career Rescue: Are you a pro or newbie when it comes to resumes?

April 15, 2018

Summer jobs are great ways to increase your skills and add to your work history, but expect tough competition for good opportunities. It helps to have a strong resume when job searching, even if it’s part-time summer work. You need to stand out from the crowd and highlight your abilities.

A resume is not the only job search tool, but it plays an important role in generating attention from employers. The key in writing a strong resume is painting the right picture by clearly stating your skills, attributes and abilities that will help an employer understand your contributions and see you as a future employee.

One of the mistakes students make is thinking they have no skills to offer or experience that an employer would need. Granted, as a student your focus and time have been spent on acquiring a degree, but think about all the circumstances where you used good communication skills, leadership, time management/organization and problem-solving abilities to complete projects. The instances you recall help you form accomplishments that demonstrate you would be a good hire.

Remember, the resume you send is a snapshot of you, and first impressions count. Make sure your email address sends a professional image, and proofread the resume for errors. Don’t forget to include key words in your resume that relate to the positions you are applying for, as they help with your online search.

The best place to start in preparing for your summer job search is to trade places with the employer — when reviewing your resume and application form, what do you see? What impressions are you sending? Any time you match your skills and accomplishments for a specific job, the more effective it will be in attracting attention.

If you are looking with no specific job in mind, then there are some skills and attributes that are shared by most employers. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), there are six areas of skills that employers value the most: Communication, honesty, teamwork, interpersonal, motivation and strong work ethic.

Even if you show a work history of part-time jobs, they all count by giving evidence of your skill sets. Be careful not to embellish part-time jobs or class projects by making them appear larger in scope, since that sends a message as well.

Be sure to include volunteer experience in addition to extracurricular activities that would emphasize your skills and attributes. A one-page resume is usually sufficient for most students in conveying your significant achievements, but don’t cut yourself short. If you need more space to highlight your skills, a two-pager is fine.

Kimberly Thompson is a board-certified counselor. Send questions to kim@careerrescue.com or Houston Chronicle, P.O. Box 4260, Houston, TX 77210. Visit her blog at www.blogs.chron.com/careerrescue.