Whether the goal is a summer job, an internship, or a part-time job alongside studies, there is one thing you are unlikely to avoid: making a CV or a resume.
The resume is a document whose role has only been emphasized in recent years. It succinctly summarizes your skills, work history, education, and other important factors in job search in a clearly structured way.
The purpose of the CV is to present you in a positive light so that you can proceed in job hunting. It's important to remember that popular jobs may have hundreds of applicants, so choosing the right words, neat document structuring and formatting, and content targeting specifically for a certain job are important factors when creating a CV.
But what should be included in the resume to maximize your chances of getting ahead in job search?
1. Appearance matters
Indeed, appearance matters, and we're not talking about your looks but the CV itself. Many have had their first encounter with making a resume during their studies, and this is most often done using a word processing program like Word. There's nothing wrong with word processing programs per se, but they're designed with text documents in mind, not for creating visually striking documents.
Today, the requirements for the appearance of a CV are such that a mere word processing program may not suffice. Various graphic elements such as color themes or other visual sections give the CV a personal touch and also help in understanding the document structure. Many have switched to using web-based services that make creating a CV easier, faster, and more convenient than using word processing programs. These services often offer a large number of different professionally designed CV templates and other handy features that make formatting and finalizing the document a breeze.
2. Personal information and personal summary
If work experience is little or non-existent, creating a resume can be a sweat-inducing task. However, the document doesn't seem too lean when you remember that in addition to personal information, a CV nowadays should include a personal summary that briefly and succinctly tells who you are, what your strengths are, and where you are heading in your career.
In addition to your name and postal address, the CV should always include your phone number and email address. Birth dates, family status, or other very personal information are currently not recommended to be included in a resume. The personal summary or profile, on the other hand, is a real writing challenge as you have to condense the most important and job-related aspects in 3-5 lines in a selling way. The profile is like an invitation to get to know your resume in more detail. Remember that recruiters only spend a few seconds reading a CV, so never assume that someone reads the entire document.
3. Recently graduated? Highlight your education
If you have just graduated or are about to graduate and do not have work experience related to your studies, it is good to emphasize your studies after your personal information and personal profile. The CV should always be structured in such a way that it does not emphasize things you lack or do not know, but what is a selling point from the job's perspective.
Education should always include the name of the educational institution, the name of the degree, and preferably also the time when you completed the degree. In addition, it's good to emphasize a couple of points that particularly relate to the job you are applying for, such as if you did your final thesis on the company's industry or completed courses directly related to the job.
4. No work experience? Here's the solution
Many recent graduates or those starting their studies struggle with having little or no work experience. However, this is not necessarily a barrier to success in job hunting. Internships, volunteering, working within a student organization, or summer jobs are valuable experiences that you can include in your resume.
Whether the internship was a compulsory part of your studies or another internship period, it's important to include it in your resume. Besides mentioning the name of the internship place and your job title, always remember to mention the results you achieved during the internship. Many interns get project-based tasks, and no matter the size of the project, highlight what you did and how it affected the organization - for example, cleaning up the company's intranet facilitated the flow and finding of information.
Have you been involved in a student association's activities, maybe responsible for welcoming exchange students and getting to know the school's facilities? Even though this is not actual work experience, you can include it in your resume and mention that it is volunteer work. It tells a potential employer that you have initiative, are responsible, and care about others enjoying their environment.
5. Skills and Competencies
You've probably heard about soft and hard skills? Soft skills often relate to how you interact with others or manage complex processes and tasks, while hard skills are primarily more definable and can often be tested or measured.
Good examples of soft skills include empathy, the ability to work under pressure, and creativity. Examples of hard skills could be the knowledge of a particular customer relationship management software and for IT professionals, mastery of a specific programming language. For these skills, you can often document your abilities with various certifications or courses.
Skills and competencies are important elements in a CV for someone creating their first one or at the beginning of their career because they emphasize the added value you offer to an employer. Even if you don't have work experience as a CRM specialist, you may have developed solid expertise in the field through several courses. For soft skills, you can often easily identify your strengths through your studies: you may have noticed that you are particularly creative in solving tasks related to studies, or that you have a natural ability to lead people when doing group work.
When it comes to soft and hard skills, it's important to read the job application carefully and only highlight the skills that are relevant to the job. Don't advertise yourself as a natural leader when applying for a role that requires good teamwork skills.
6. Hobbies, Trustee Positions, and Volunteering
At the beginning of a career, when there isn't enough work experience to "fill" the CV, it's important to also highlight any hobby or volunteer activities related to the job or industry. Especially, different trustee positions can add valuable content to your CV.
With regards to hobbies, briefly explain what the hobby has taught you, for example, marathon running also develops mental endurance and perseverance as it typically involves determined and long-term training.
For trustee positions, an active role in a football team or a local club, for example as a treasurer or being responsible for webpages/Facebook pages, is an excellent trustee position and experience that many employers appreciate.
Volunteering often teaches, for example, interaction skills and getting along with people from different life situations or cultures, which can be very valuable knowledge in various job tasks and especially in an international work community. Many jobs today require a broad language proficiency, so if you have improved your language skills through a hobby or volunteer work, it's also worth mentioning in your resume.