Resume Tips: How to Make Your Internship Application Stand Out

Resume Tips: How to Make Your Internship Application Stand Out

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In last week’s Resume Tips, we covered what you should never include on your resume. This week, we’re going to discuss some ways in which you can make your resume stand out to recruiters.


Hiring managers and recruiters are constantly inundated with hundreds of resumes to weed through. As a result, they’re quick to determine “yes” or “no” on each one, sometimes spending as little as 6 seconds per resume. If your resume doesn’t stand out from the rest, it’s easy to end up at the bottom of the trash can, especially if you’re applying for a position in one of the more competitive sectors. Thankfully, there are some very straightforward edits you can make that just might help you get past the initial resume screening.


1. Use buzzwords, but tactfully

Buzzwords are those words that you seem to hear every time you’re at a meeting, conference, or presentation. They usually come out of the mouths of sharply dressed women and men holding padded binders in one hand and coffee in the other, and are usually accompanied by more business jargon that goes in one ear and out the other. Words like synergy. Paradigm shift. Dynamic. Forward-thinking.


While these broad, hip, and generally uninformative buzzwords should be avoided on your resume, there are some words that recruiters do like seeing. Rather than saying you’re a “go-getter” and a “team player,” talk about what you’ve “achieved” and how you’ve “improved” in your previous experience. Rather than telling them 'I worked here', give an example of what you achieved. If a word or phrase sounds good, but doesn’t directly tell the recruiter about something that you’ve done, it shouldn’t be included. However, action words like “managed,” “created,” “trained,” and “mentored,” can tell the recruiter a lot more about how you work and what you are capable of. During their scan of your resume, these kinds of words are much more likely to catch the eyes of the recruiters.


2. Tailor your resume to the job

Oftentimes, people create one resume and send it off to dozens of different companies. However, quality is still more effective than quantity in the job/internship application process. Job openings typically have a short description of the company and position, followed by a list of requirements and ideal skills. These are there for a reason! Recruiters are looking for people that they know can do the job that they’re recruiting for, so someone who has mentioned specifically on their resume that they can do what the job requires is much more likely to get a call back than someone who only lists their general skills. Tailor your resume to the position you’re applying for, using the same language and terms as the job description, and you’ll find that recruiters will be much more interested in you.


3. Quantitative > qualitative

When describing the details of your prior experience, make sure you’re not just giving job descriptions. If you were a pizza delivery guy/girl, “delivered pizzas” is implied. Go into detail about how you stepped up and exceeded your role’s expectations. Recruiters like seeing numbers in your descriptions, as that’s the best way to see how much you’ve actually done. A figure is a thousand times better than flowery language. “Boosted sales by 25%” will be much more effective than “Helped skyrocket sales to a record high.” This makes your resume more unique and personal, which is important when a recruiter has to go through dozens, if not hundreds, of resumes every day. And remember -- when writing about your previous jobs, if the line could go on anyone-else-with-that-job’s resume, then it shouldn’t be on yours!


4. Make it look nice!

Everyone knows that making a great first impression is crucial to any kind of interaction, be it in making new friends, dating, school, or business. The same goes for job applications. Your resume is likely the first impression that the company will get of you, and it’s in your best interest to take advantage of this opportunity. Submitting a clean, nicely formatted resume will immediately let the recruiter know that you are conscientious and organized. On the contrary, if you have walls of text on your resume or too much white space, recruiters will think you’re not concise or not experienced. Of course, resume aesthetics is not correlated with work ability, but taking the time to polish up your resume goes a long way in telling the recruiter that you’re willing to put in the extra effort to present yourself well. Plus, formatting your resume well makes it easy for the recruiter to read it, and you’ll be able to show them a lot more in their quick scan.


5. Accompany your resume with a cover letter

Although this isn’t required for many positions, accompanying your resume submission with a cover letter can greatly increase your chances of hearing back. It’s hard to tell a recruiter a lot about you on a sheet of paper that they glance at for a few seconds. The purpose of the resume is to give them a rundown on what you’ve done in the past. While that’s extremely important, tacking on a cover letter can tell the recruiter what you can do in the future -- specifically, how you can help their company grow. If you don’t know where to start with the cover letter, check out our post on CVs and cover letters.


Taking these 5 steps into consideration when writing your resume will be very beneficial in your application process. Having your resume stand out is becoming increasingly important as more and more qualified people are looking for internships. If you’re still in the resume-making process, and need some more tips on how to create it, you can find out how to write the perfect CV from scratch.

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