TURNING EXPERIENCES INTO RESUME CONTENT
There are many experiences beyond employment that can aid you in showcasing skills that can help you land your next job. Some of these experiences and skills can be included in your resume while others may be better as discussion topics on an interview. Below is a list of common student activities and what things you may have gained from them:
Whether you did a co-op/internship for formal course credit or on your own -there’s probably a lot of skills you picked up that relate to your major or area of interest. Make sure you start a list of skills directly related to your field (you can refer to the job description for your position) as well as highlight other important skills you may have been able to get practice in such as working in teams, communication skills (writing reports, sending formal correspondence, making presentations, etc.), time management, etc. You’ll also be able to now claim having worked in a professional work environment and likely got a glimpse of what it takes to succeed in this field which will help you clarify your career and educational goals going forward.
Part-time or Seasonal Work
For jobs not related to your major, you often times will focus on highlighting less of the technical skills and instead will bring attention to the soft skills. Things like communication skills, teamwork, initiative will be great aspects to highlight. Remember all jobs provide you with useful skills that can help you in future positions.
The Family Business
Many students go home for the summer and end up assisting their families with their businesses. It’s easy to dismiss this as just a favor but this should be treated as any other job experience. Create your own job descriptions and take credit for contributions that you were able to make. Do not list this as “Family Business” on your resume. Instead, write it up as any other position to include the official company name, location, dates and job duties.
Volunteer experiences are wonderful because you get to gain skills and show that you can take initiative in helping others without reward. Depending on how much time you spend doing an experience is how much detail you can provide on a resume but no matter how short or long it’s a great opportunity to build your professional and personal networks which could lead to even more opportunities down the road. Be mindful, however, to not include controversial organizations on your resume or interview to avoid any bias.
Travel/ Summer Abroad Programs
Travel experiences provide a chance for personal growth and can also help you gain skills. First, travel requires you to be open to other cultures, people, traditions, and way of life. It opens your mind to have a better understanding of others which can be such a great asset in the workplace. You can also learn to be flexible, creative, assertive, and a great planner. Think of the last time you may have had to negotiate with an airline ticket agent to find a way to get home after delays or cancellations. Those are skills that can also be very helpful when you run into challenges in the work place!
- Using Study Abroad Experiences after the Experience
- Making Travel Experience Count: Study Abroad and Your Resume
- Career Integration
Student Associations or Clubs
Involvement in a student association or club is viewed very favorably by employers, and can be an essential qualification, such as leadership, for certain types of work and career paths. You don’t have to be president to gain leadership skills. You could be the recruiter, fundraising chair, an event planner, or secretary. The important things are what you accomplish and the skills you use and develop. Find a club or association that is relevant to your interests or career goals to further strengthen your experience in the field. Quite often members of student clubs and organization are invited to attend conferences, lectures, and industry events that can be a great opportunity to network with companies in your field.
Maybe you love surfing and ended up offering surf lessons to friends. Maybe you love gaming and served as a moderator on an online server. Maybe you spent hours researching how to create an online app. Think of all the things you enjoy doing on your own and see what you gained from the time you spent doing them. What skills can you use elsewhere?
When employers are looking for candidates to fill their job/internship openings, they are looking for candidates who are not only familiar with the technical aspects of the job but also who are well rounded. Assessing your experiences for the skills employers seek most, takes some reflection and we encourage you to start a list of important skills and see where you can fill those with past or recent experiences. The National Association of Colleges of Employers conducts an annual survey to gather information on what Attributes Employers Want to See on New College Graduates’ Resumes (click link for full list). That list of skills will help guide through this process. Below is an example of some typical student experiences and how assess those experiences for the skills/attributes employers seek the most in their ideal candidates.
Now we challenge you to do the same with your experiences and start preparing to make them count on your next job/internship search or interview!