Polishing resumes made easy by Career Services

First impressions may be the most important variable in succeeding in the professional world, but employers have already met an individual before he or she has walked in for an interview.

Rachael Thomas, a career advisor for University Career Services, said she believed an employer’s first impression of a job candidate is the resume and cover letter he or she submits.

“Employers usually spend 20 to 30 seconds reviewing a resume, so you definitely want to make sure that it highlights the qualifications that market yourself,” Thomas said. “Before submitting a resume to an employer, (students) should come by and meet with an adviser one on one. It’s always good to have a second pair of eyes.”

Students have a variety of assets and tools at their disposal to make an effective resume, she said. The most personal option is to stop by the Burlington Northern Sante Fe Railway Career Center, located in Jarvis Hall, or the Alcon Career Center, located in room 140 of Dan Rogers Hall.

Both career service offices are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., but students who do not have appointments must drop in from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., she said.

“Drop-in appointments usually last 15 to 20 minutes, so if you feel like you need longer than that, we suggest that you schedule an appointment,” she said.

When students come in, they are given a resume and cover letter guide, she said. The resume and cover letter guide is complete with a list of “do’s” and “don’ts” for making a resume, different resume formats, tips for making a cover letter, as well as samples of different types of resumes. Once a student has put together his or her resume, one of the Career Services advisers will critique the resume.

Tori Jackson, a senior psychology major, said she didn’t realize the university had a lot of tools for helping students with their resume.

“I knew about FrogJobs, but I never thought there was actually a resume center that students could go to for help on making a good resume,” Jackson said. “I like that you can walk in without an appointment also.”

Students may also find the resume and cover letter guide and other resources for making an effective resume online at careers.tcu.edu.

“We have additional resources online under our student section such as online workshops that give different suggestions and tips for creating an effective resume and cover letter,” Thomas said. “Go to the student section on our Web site and it brings up the link to Optimal Resume. This is something I definitely recommend to students.”

According to the Optimal Resume Web site, the site partnered with over 600 career centers to offer a web-based resume builder program.

Andrew Kangerga, a senior entrepreneurial management major, said the online resources fit the schedule of students better.

“As a student I’m constantly on the go and without everything being online I don’t know how I would get by,” Kangerga said. “The fact that Career Services provides all the tools online that you can get from going into their office is more realistic for students who are constantly in class or at work.”

All students and alumni can access to Optimal Resume as long as a valid TCU e-mail address is used, Thomas said.

“Optimal Resume is a really good resource for formatting resumes because you can start a resume from scratch or browse resume samples by field or industry,” she said. “Students can also browse section sets that give a skeleton resume that students can fill in and tweak.”

Students can save their resume as a Microsoft Office Word document, PDF or they can automatically upload it to FrogJobs, she said.

“If students haven’t signed up for FrogJobs we recommend that students do that,” she said. “The first time (students) upload their resume to (FrogJobs) it is critiqued by an adviser.”

Career Services will critique a resume by e-mail, but meeting with an adviser before an employer sees a student’s resume is important, she said.

“I recommend trying to tailor your resume as closely as possible to whatever job you are applying for,” she said.

There are three basic types of resume formats that can be used based on professional experience:

Chronological resume

The chronological resume is most effective if a student has good professional or internship experience, Thomas said. Typically a student would have an experience category that would list the most recent experience that was relevant to the position the student was applying for. For work or other experience that was not as relevant to the position, there can be a category listed for other experience.

“Chronological resumes are typically what employers look for,” she said. “The great thing about a relevant experience category is it that you can include more than just paid positions.”

Functional resume

The functional resume may be best for students who do not have a great deal of professional or internship experience, she said.

“The individual is highlighting more of their skills and less of where they receive them from,” she said. “There is more of a focus on abilities and less focus on work history.”

The functional resume makes it possible to tie in relevant skills received from extracurricular activities, academic course work or volunteer work, she said.

Combination resume

The combination resume is a good resume to use if an employer is looking for other specific qualities that pertain to the job position, she said.

“If an employer wants to see your work history but they also want to see your leadership experience, it is possible to have a separate leadership experience category along with a work experience category,” she said. “You are tailoring it to whatever position you apply for.”

While it is necessary to make sure a resume has the most relevant work experience on top, there are also little things that employers check for, she said.

“I’ve seen employers throw out a resume because of bad grammar or missed spelling,” she said. “Always check for grammar. Those are the things employers often use to weed out candidates.”

Career Services can be contacted by phone at (817) 257-2222

Online links and tools for resumes can be found at www.careers.tcu.edu