The Top 8 Ways to Get an Employer to Review Your Resume

Thu, Feb 18, 2010

Internship Resume

It is likely that whoever receives your resume will put yours into a large and growing pile. How do you make sure that yours stands out? I have reviewed thousands of resumes and there are certain things that employers look for.

  1. The cover letter matters big-time. If I get a great cover letter – one that can passionately connect a candidate’s skill to an employer’s needs – I could change my opinion about a candidate. A great cover letter trumps a bad resume. This cover letter should not be a form letter. It should show that you have researched the company and thought through how you can benefit the company.
  2. No gimmicks. Keep your resume in a standard and recognizable format. If you are designing it yourself, keep it simple unless you are a designer. No fancy fonts, backgrounds or colors. Just make sure it is easy to read.
  3. When I skim a resume I look at a few key sections. First I look for actual work experience. I don’t care whether you answered phones or filed paperwork at your previous internship. I do care that you’ve held a job. I don’t want to be your first employer. After looking at work history I’ll look for academic achievement. I am going to assume you are smart. I want to see that you are also an achiever.
  4. The biggest problem I see with intern resumes is that too often there is not enough detail. If you have experience, make sure you go through the effort of detailing what you have accomplished while working for your previous employer. Demonstrate how you provided value to your employer. When hiring interns, employers are focused on hiring interns that will be a huge help to them.
  5. Because you are likely lacking in experience, speak to your potential by writing a great, personal cover letter. If you have no experience, acknowledge that. Just speak to why that is, and how much you want the job.
  6. Passion matters. Again, this can come through in the cover letter.
  7. Foreign intern applicants should research the style that resumes are written in the targeted country. In other words, if you are from France, make sure the resume you send to an American company is formatted in the way that an American company would expect.
  8. Make sure your resume addresses accomplishments. If you don’t have work experience, speak to what you have accomplished aside from work. Talk about academic success, hobbies, or professional society. Make sure your resume demonstrates ongoing achievement. And you’ll get bonus points if your can speak to quantifiable achievement.

Think of the first ‘no’ as the beginning of the conversation. Be persistent and you should be rewarded with fruitful results. Keep at it and good luck!

By Eric Cohen, Management Consultant to Small Businesses

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