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Feb 17 2017
by Jamie Su

6 Ways to Build Up Your Resume

By Jamie Su - Feb 17 2017

Let's face it — job applications can be extremely competitive. It's even more stressful when you think about how your resume is a prime component and the first step towards landing an interview and potentially getting the job of your dreams. Personally, as a university student in a co-op program, it is stressed that we need to have sufficient experience for employers to grant us an interview. While attending university, I've discovered many different opportunities from upper-year students, ranging from how to gain experience that I can add to my resume, as well as ways to write an eye-catching resume. So, here are six ways college students can build up their resume for a job they want during the summer, an internship or a co-op placement. 

1. Have personal projects.

Lee Campbell via Unsplash

Employers want to see applicants take the initiative to do side projects, especially when it relates to your major. It shows how you have experience and knowledge in the subject that's related to the job, such as computer science or journalism. Create your own website or become a writer on Fresh U (hint, hint!) to show just how much interest you have in your program. Don't worry if your personal projects aren't related to your major; if the projects show how you pursue your hobbies, have the responsibility and ability to balance this alongside your schoolwork, employers will certainly be impressed by your passion, professionally and time management skills. 

2. Participate in extracurricular activities.

Rachel Barkdoll via Unsplash

Do you like sports, music, writing or have a passion for a particular subject? Participating in clubs and sports teams at college show employers how you're a well-rounded student and active in your school community. Again, activities relating to your major, such as machining for engineering students or programming, coding for computer science students and the DECA club for business students, can be really beneficial. Employers are sure to be impressed as it demonstrates your initiative and collaboration with others to create and innovate. Winning contests for those clubs or being on the executive team for a club will prove how you have strong leadership and organization skills. Personally, I'm the social media coordinator for a club called Women in STEM, and it shows how I'm an effective marketer while using social media to promote events and workshops the club hosts!

3. Volunteer.

Madi Robson via Unsplash

Another way to show your initiative to be active in the community is by volunteering. You can volunteer at a food bank, animal shelter and many other places to help you gain experience working in different environments! This is a great way to start off, especially if you've never had a job before. One volunteering opportunity I've found is at my university — the science faculty was looking for volunteers for the Science, Coffee & Donut Shop on campus. Since I've never had a job before, the experience I gain from working at the cash register, refilling coffee machines and working with other volunteers is extremely beneficial to me. 

4. Get job experience.

Tim Wright via Unsplash

The two pros about this are that you can earn some extra money while also gaining experience. If you're too busy during the school year to work — which is understandable since we're busy college students — try to apply for summer seasonal jobs and gain experience working in a specific environment. Many employers seek individuals that have had previous job experience, be it in retail or lifeguarding. Work experience demonstrates your strong problem-solving skills, interpersonal and interpersonal skills and most importantly, your ability to handle problems in a stressful work environment. 

5. Complete certifications.

Du'o'ng Tran Quoc via Unsplash

Though you can mention that you have a certain type of skill on your resume, employers want examples or proof of those skills. Certifications are a way to prove to employers that you're qualified and capable of completing specific tasks. It also shows the effort put into earning the certification as you undergo extensive training to get that certificate. CPR certification or skills-based certifications are useful and definitely applicable in work environments. I've received a Maximize Potential Certificate from a workshop that my university residence has, which has helped me develop leadership skills and communication skills. 

6. Get your resume proof-read.

Crew via Unsplash

It is extremely vital to have your resume proof-read and edited before you submit the final good copy to a company or firm. My university's Writing Centre allows you to book an appointment with someone who can help you edit and critique both your resume and cover letters. If your college has a Writing Centre or resume critiquing workshops, go to them! You want to make sure that your resume is polished, neat, impressive, convincing, and grammatically correct. Build it up to perfection to make sure you make your best impression. 

If you feel like you lack any experience, don't worry! There are plenty of ways to gain some and get involved to develop valuable skills needed in the workforce. These six ways to impress employers who are hiring are some simple steps you can take to make sure you get the job of your dreams. Good luck!

Lead Image Credit: Olu Eletu via Unsplash

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Jamie Su - University of Waterloo

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