How do I start a Resume from Scratch?
Making a resume from scratch in college can appear daunting at first, especially if people around you are already seeing results from their own spiffy resumes. With the right instruction, however, it can be a breeze — and it is a great step forward for thinking about your career goals. Above all, though, the goal of a resume is to land you an interview for a job or position.
Pretend as though you’re trying to sell the experiences of someone else to a potential employer. This “someone else,” in our little experiment, is a clone of you, with all of your own skills and experiences. Jot down any past experiences of this “someone else” that could appear useful or impressive when selling them to a recruiter. Regular jobs, gig work, unpaid internships, volunteering, extracurricular leadership, honors and awards, and independent projects all count (first-years and sophomores can include high school experiences). Within each experience that you wrote down, think of a few ways to positively portray it. If this “someone else” worked as a cashier, how many sales did they oversee per day? If that number isn’t impressive, how many sales did they oversee on a weekly, monthly, or job-wide basis? Were they responsible for opening or closing the store by themselves? Did they train any other staff members? So on and so forth. Go into this kind of detail for any experience you feel you could speak about at length to someone, and write down these details via bullet points (don’t worry about formatting them just yet). Jotting down experiences in detail will make writing your resume (surprise!) a breeze.
Format Like the Pros
Now that you know what activities to choose from, the next step to actually build your resume is to use proper formatting. Resumes should almost always stick to a one-page, consistently formatted, and cleanly structured framework. The Career Center has a multitude of resume structures to take inspiration from (download this fillable one here, check resumes by career cluster here, and our resume writing worksheet here). Do not hesitate to use the Career Center’s resume formats for yourself — they are the standard!
Activate Your Activities
Employers expect consistent phrasing and key action verbs in your bullet-point activity descriptions. Here’s an ideal case of a listed experience, taken from the Career Center website:
Notice how this person used past tense for a previous experience, avoided the word “I,” used relevant keywords (“Collaborating,” leading,” etc), and accurately portrayed their projects and results — emphasizing numbers (“60+ tours,” “34,000+campus visitors”) and goals (“… to provide prospective students and families with a valuable and informative visit”). Including these projects, actions, and results (PAR) in each bullet point is an integral part of resume creation, and can set your new resume apart from others. On that note, the Career Center’s website has great examples of skill-based keywords to use.
When writing your resume, try your best to be confident. Never be afraid to expand on an activity, even if it feels like you’re “bragging” — that’s what a resume is all about! If you need additional help, as always, the Peer Career Coaches and full-time coaching staff at the Career Center are here to assist BC students with resume creation and career questions. Best of luck!