WHY THEY NEED A RESUME:
If your student will be job hunting while in college, they’ll want to have a resume on file. Even if they have no work experience – they need to professionally present themselves somehow. They can always write about high school activities and babysitting if they have to. Even if your student will not be working during school, eventually they’ll want an internship or they will need to attend career fairs on campus. So, being prepared with a resume on hand is very helpful.
My daughter started college during summer semester. Towards the end of summer she applied for a job that would start in the fall. She got the job, and knew when she returned for fall semester it would be waiting for her. My point being, she took the time to find the school’s online job board in advance. She beat the rush!
FORMATTING THE RESUME + Research:
I polled many of my professional friends about resumes. Everyone agreed that no matter what the field, you still want a basic resume formatted simply. Not only will this make the resume easy for the interviewer to skim, but it also allows HR to scan your resume into a database using software specially designed to look for resume key fields.
Many word processing software programs have built-in resume templates to use. We decided to save hers on Google Drive so we both had access to editing or sharing it. She also left for college with a dozen printed copies in a folder on nice paper.
Next, do a little research about a specific job or the company you may work for if you have one in mind. Remember to put the most valuable information first on the resume in case someone only glances at it for 7 seconds. If you have no work experience, this might be your personal statement at the top, paraphrasing exactly what this specific job entails so you sound perfect for the corporate culture. It might be your high school GPA and if you were President of the Honors Club or something like that. But if you have related work experience – then it’s certainly your related work experience! In fact, if you have enough experience working or interning in your desired field, you can probably leave high school off your resume all together (the thought!)
My daughter’s boyfriend is a finance major. Before he applied for an internship, we looked at his boring resume together. He had one job in high school – the same one every summer. On paper, he didn’t seem very marketable, but he had found his dream internship and really wanted to put his best foot forward. We Googled resumes for his field, and actually found a university that had sample resumes online that had worked for their finance-major students. What a great find! His 2 little paragraphs were fleshed out quite easily after that! He added a personal statement, related coursework, the fact that he had a leadership role in the business college… and he has an endearing personality, so he interviews well.
My daughter also learned from a big name company while at a college career fair, that many interviewers want to see a college GPA on a resume.
DD1 went to her first career fair as a Freshman, even though she knew companies were mainly looking for juniors and seniors. She wanted to get a feel for the room and how people were dressed before it mattered. It was like a test-drive with no pressure at all. If a table seemed slow, she could ask questions, but otherwise she kind of hovered and soaked it in. Afterwards, she called me and said she wanted to add her GPA to her resume and get a blue suit after sophomore year. Apparently career fairs at her school are “business formal” attire. After her test-drive, she didn’t even think black slacks and a blouse were dressy enough.
KEEP IT UPDATED:
My daughter updates her resume with new job, internship and club information while it happens. Little by little, the minor jobs she had in high school (birthday party princess, camp counselor…) have come off her resume and her resume now makes her sound both professional and involved on campus.
Many colleges offer a shorter, perhaps 1-credit course on putting together a resume and getting through the interview process. Your student might need to brush up on making eye contact, how to talk about their own strengths and weaknesses, hand shaking, etc. I took a class like this in college, and we even gave each other mock interviews on video so we could learn from watching ourselves on screen.
TEACH PROPER FOLLOW UP:
OK, here it comes – the THANK YOU NOTE! Students should follow up an interview with an honest-to-goodness, hand-written thank you note on real paper – the same day as the interview. I helped my daughter’s friend get an internship interview in high school, and as we left I told him this in the car. He looked very skeptical, and asked if it could be an email. I said, “You can send an email, but you STILL need to send a hand-written thank you note, and if you don’t believe me, ask your dad.” This is proper interview etiquette, I’m not alone in this. An email is great for someone you had a nice conversation with at a career fair, however. That’s why you hold on to business cards. When my daughter was in high school she emailed reps she liked after college fairs and tours as well.
I’m not an expert on this stuff. You can probably Google advice from Forbes. But we’re living through it, and this is the advice I have to share. Good luck!