If you build it, employers will come: How to “cleanup” your resume game

The number one way to set yourself up for success in college and beyond is to develop a killer resume that leaves a lasting impression on employers and college admission counselors. Your resume should include everything from extracurricular involvement and volunteer work to internships and summer jobs. But that’s not all. Resumes should also give future employers and schools a good sense of who you are as a person and what gifts you can contribute to an organization.

So where do you start? Hit a homerun with this step-by-step guide for building a resume:

First inning – Keep track of your activities and achievements

You may think you’ll never forget earning a sportsmanship award in varsity baseball, but in a couple years, it’ll likely get lost in the shuffle. At the end of every school year, write down what you have accomplished, the groups you participated in and the jobs you’ve done. This will help broaden your resume for future college and job applications.

Second inning – Give back to your community

Think about things that you’re passionate about (like caring for animals or playing with kids) and research organizations in your area that need volunteers. Not only does volunteer work look great on a resume, it also helps you form connections with other adults who can help further your career dreams.

Third inning – Get a summer job

Every job you take will teach you something. You may not work in the food service industry forever, but taking a summer job as a waitress or cook can help you learn organizational skills, customer service principles and teamwork. If you are coaching a ball team, you learn to encourage others, to break down a skill and teach it and to work with people of different levels of talent. If possible, try getting a job that relates to a field you’re interested in, but never discount what you learn if you don’t get that perfect internship or job.

Fourth inning – Don’t be afraid to freelance

It’s not always easy to swing a part-time job, especially if you are looking for something temporary during the summer. If a summer job doesn’t pan out (which hopefully won’t happen after polishing your resume!), create a position of your own. If you like to write, start up a blog or send writing samples to a local magazine or newspaper to see if they’ll publish them. If baking is your hidden talent, market your services to friends and family looking for someone to cater their graduation party. Freelance jobs show future employers that you’re motivated, resourceful and well-disciplined – skills you may not always get from your average part-time job.

Final inning – Develop a professional network

Stay in touch with the people you work for and use them as future references, whether it’s to get into a college program or land a job. If they work in your field of interest, continue to ask them about current trends and issues in their line of work. This will keep you well-versed enough in the field to impress a future employer at an interview.

For more resume building tips, check out our College Handbook.