With so many people sharing similar interests, needs, and wants, it's not unusual for academic, financial, and professional opportunities to require a resume for consideration. As mentioned in 10 Key Points for Designing Your Resume post, a resume is a formal document and written representation of who you are in terms of what you've done and are doing, and what your qualifications are. What it boils down to is simply this: It's your personal sales pitch and should be designed to represent you at your best when you can't be there in person.
What types of content make up a well-crafted resume?
One of the key components to having a strong resume is the quality of your content. There are two parts to this:
What you choose to pursue and experience
What and how you choose to explain what you've done and are doing
Together, these personally relevant decisions and actions have the potential to reveal your knowledge, skills, abilities, and other qualifications. They also offer insight into your interests, preferences, and level of professionalism. In other words, you can decide how you reveal your unique value! That being said, having the ability to list quality content requires your effort to seek out, selectively choose, and actively engage in meaningful activities. If an activity helps you to grow in positive ways, creates opportunities for you to learn and develop as an individual and team player, and/or offers happiness and well-being to yourself and others, then it's highly likely to be meaningful and worthy of your time and attention.
Examples of resume-worthy experiences
While the experiences, knowledge, skills, and abilities that you can list on a resume are limitless, aim to select those that are particularly relevant to the position and/or program you're applying to. Here are 10 examples of experiences that may be worth mentioning (list is not inclusive):
Employment opportunities, e.g., part-time and full-time, contractual, etc.
Specialized summer camps and programs
10 questions to ask yourself so you target relevant experiences more effectively
There are many questions to ask yourself as you research potential options, not because you need to figure out all the details before anything else, but because it helps to discover more personally relevant options. There's not enough time in the day to look into every single opportunity you hear about, especially if you have a lot of contacts or leads. To narrow down the list of possibilities and to give yourself a stronger start to the search process, ask yourself the following questions:
What are you trying to achieve, experience, and/or learn?
What limitations and/or restrictions do you have in terms of availability, location, and transportation?
Are there any conditions that would prevent you from fulfilling certain essential job functions?
Are you looking for a short-term or long-term experience?
Are you looking to get your foot in the door with the option for advancement or extended participation?
Do you want to work independently or with others?
If selected, are you in need or want of compensation, e.g., financial, academic credits, discounts, or other benefits?
Is there anything else that you can think of that would add value to your time, sense of accomplishment, sense of self, etc.?
If you could choose to do anything right now, what would it be and why?
How do you find opportunities?
Using the information you've gathered through the self-reflection process above, you can now identify those opportunities that would be purposeful for you to pursue. There are a number of resources that you can access to make the search easier and quicker, such as--
If you are a student, check in with your guidance counselor, school counselor, academic advisor, or college counselor
Network and ask people you know if they are aware of any available opportunities
Check school, program, company, government, and organization websites for opportunities
Access hard copy and online newspapers in the area(s) or field(s) you're interested in
Contact a manager or Human Resources representative of a company
Be aware of bulletin boards around town. Many times, opportunities are tacked onto boards at grocery stores, mini-marts, and other public areas.
Pick up industry-specific magazines and brochures
After you find an opportunity you're interested in…
Do your best to complete the application and any other required paperwork, and submit it to the contact person listed. If you're invited for an interview, do your homework and research the company or program so you know what they do and are striving to achieve. Take time to practice answering interview questions--the goal is to be able to share personal, position-relevant details about yourself, your achievements, your goals, and the value you'll offer if selected. Ultimately, be prepared in confidence level, posture, professional attire and etiquette, and responses so you give yourself a strong chance of being selected.
When you're selected and are able to experience meaningful opportunities, pay attention to what you're doing, your potential, your contributions, and everything you're able to learn while there. Take note of who you work with, who's supportive of you and willing to take you under his or her wings, and the resources you can access. Whether you work independently or as a team member, in a small office or large building, day shift or graveyard shift, desk job or in the field, the details can add a tremendous amount of presentation value to who you are in writing and in person. Don't downplay or discredit anything that life presents, and choose to see the value in yourself and what you choose to do!
Meaningful experiences and quality content are critical elements to any resume worth reviewing. Everyone is unique in their own ways, and the opportunities we each choose to pursue and put time to add to that level of uniqueness in ways that can be of benefit in application situations. There are many options when it comes to identifying meaningful experiences, and there are steps you can take to narrow down where you put your time and attention. Reflecting on your own interests, preferences, values, and more, can point you in a direction that results in relevant options for what you want in life. Once you clearly know what you're looking for, you can then tap into your resources and submit applications to those of interest. The moment you hear, "Congratulations! We'd like you to join our team" or some version of this amazing, well-deserved offer statement, you'll know it's time to dive in head first. This is where the ongoing development of your invaluable resume begins!
A final word…
Sometimes, finding good opportunities for personal, academic, and professional growth to use toward building a resume can be challenging. Analysis paralysis may kick in with the abundant businesses, organizations, and activities that are already established and in progress. In addition, our self-esteem and self-confidence need to be intact and at healthy levels so we can take those necessary steps forward to get our foot in the door. Having support--whether through advice, encouragement, or simply just brainstorming possibilities--can go a long way. As always, don't hesitate to reach out to us with any questions you may have. Contact us here and we'll do our best to help you get started!