The first step to putting together a winning résumé is to list your employable skills and qualifications. Which of your qualities make you hireable? If these do not come immediately to mind or the wording eludes you, a good place to start is the vocational learning outcomes of your current academic program. These describe the skills that industry employers have said graduates must have to be considered for hire. Find these on the program webpage for your academic institution. Though they are quite general, you can find more specific learning outcomes on the syllabus for each course in your program.
Of course, you can not possibly put all of these on a résumé because the full list would include too many, be too detailed, and would be worded in a manner unsuitable for a résumé. At this point, however, what is important is that you begin a master list of such skills that you can tailor for the résumé when you see what skills and duties employers list in their job postings. Matching the skills you have with what those employers want is the key to a successful application.
In addition to program-specific skills, you can also add a range of other skills. Get started by asking yourself the following questions:
- What specific computer programs am I good at? Do I have examples of work I can show an employer of how I have used them at an intermediate or advanced level?
- Do I work well with others? Have I demonstrated this with my employment experience or with volunteer or extracurricular activities such as league sports or clubs?
- Am I better at following instructions or giving them? Am I destined for leadership roles? What proof can I offer up either way?
- Can I read, write, and converse in another language besides English? At what level of proficiency?
- Am I a quick learner? Am I a creative thinker? Can I think of specific instances as proof of my answers to these questions if asked in a job interview?
- Am I a good communicator in both written and spoken situations? What evidence can I offer employers of my proficiency in both? (Guffey, Loewy, & Almonte, 2016, pp. 377-378)
Not only will a few pages of notes in answer to these questions help you prepare résumés and cover letters, but they will also help you prepare for the job interview later.