Roger Williams University’s Career Center Director Robbin Beauchamp is no stranger to the process of crafting and perfecting unique and noticeable job applications, as she has been helping students do exactly that for more than 12 years. She knows all too well how competitive the hiring process can be for anyone, especially students, looking for either long-term employment or a summer internship.
Here are some of Beauchamp’s tried and true tips to crafting a standout résumé:
“Begin with a brain-dump,” Beauchamp says, recommending this technique both for first timers and those interested in simply reworking their résumés. “Once you have it all on paper, you can really start to get a picture of how unique some of your experiences are.”
Next, look at it backwards. Beginning with the specific job in mind can make your résumé as specialized and unique as possible to the employer. Résumé writing is a language all its own, according to Beauchamp. Keep your sentences short and utilize action verbs when you describe your previous jobs.
Put your best experience forward, Beauchamp instructs. “Fold a draft of your résumé in half — you want to capture the reader’s eye in that first half of the page, so keep everything important above the crease.”
Beauchamp also stresses the importance of including related jobs. “Employers are looking for internships, community projects, as well as extensive service in your field to be included on your résumé. The more you have completed will only increase how competitive your application will be.”
Beauchamp also reminds job seekers that no previous job is ever a waste – even if they all do not fit on a résumé. Using the example of working at McDonalds, she points out that quick problem solving, communication and thinking on your feet are all transferable skills that employers are looking to see listed under previous job descriptions.
Avoid templates, Beauchamp suggests. Not only do their set structures limit the ways that you can present your information, but according to Beauchamp, “once you do, you start looking just like everyone else.”
She suggests that applicants think of their résumé as an extension of themselves. "It’s acceptable to explore different layouts and designs (especially if you are a visual arts or graphic design student) and maintain a professional look. You really want your résumé to speak for you as an individual."
Finally, in order to make a lasting professional impression, Beauchamp also stresses the importance of rigorously editing your résumé for spelling and grammar. “One mistake I hate seeing is résumés that have not been well written,” she says.