What is a résumé? Why do I need one? What do I include in it? These are questions college students may ask themselves when starting a job search.

Looking for a job can be an incredibly stressful process. However, creating an effective résumé can leave students feeling confident in securing an interview.

Résumés highlight experience

College of Business Associate Professor Joseph Goodman, Ph.D.

“Résumés are what allow you to stand out among applicants and sell your experiences,” – College of Business Associate Professor Joseph Goodman, Ph.D.

A résumé allows the applicant to display strong experiences they have encountered during their college career that makes them a strong applicant. Chasmyn Parker is a student at Illinois State University and is currently a recruiting intern at COUNTRY Financial.

“A résumé defines the applicants’ story and an effective one showcases experiences to the employer,” she said.

According to Joseph Goodman, Ph.D., Management and Quantitative Methods professor at Illinois State University, “Résumés are what allow you to stand out among applicants and sell your experiences.” Employers are looking for the most qualified applicant that fits their company culture. A résumé will not only allow you to sell those qualifications, but also provides an opportunity to be invited to an interview to show your cultural fit.

According to COUNTRY Financial Talent Acquisition Specialist Kelsey Gebhart résumés are often the decision-maker on whether one gets an interview or not.

“If an employer posts a position and receives 40 applicants they will likely narrow it down to a dozen or so to interview,” Gebhart said. “So make your résumé stand out, be specific and concise, sell yourself, and land the interview!”

Résumé writing tips

Drafting a résumé is not as difficult as one may think.

“First, attach it to an application. Second, make sure your résumé is up-to-date and catered toward the position you’re applying for,” Gebhart said.

Although it may seem like extra work, candidates should tailor résumés and cover letters to each position.

“Pull out key words from the job posting so you stand out. If an employer does a keyword search to find candidates and you haven’t done that, you won’t show up in the search,” states Gebhart.

Other tips for résumé writing include:

  • List experience in chronological order
  • Use bullets rather than paragraphs
  • Use consistent formatting
  • Include related experience to the position such as internships, volunteer work, athletics and group/organization involvement on campus

After preparing a résumé, make an appointment with your career advisor or stop by the Career Center during drop-in hours to have your résumé reviewed. The Career Center website also has resources available to students and alumni to utilize, such as the Career Resource Guide. Follow these tips and by the end of the job search process, you will have greater confidence and an effective résumé.

Ashley Chmielewski is a senior human resource management major and career ambassador at Illinois State University. Connect with her on LinkedIn.