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Creating a resume to stand out is very important as you embark on your job search journey. In the first part of this blog, we shared some tips on things to take note of when working on your resume. You can read that blog here: How to create an outstanding resume
Both the last blog and this one is based off tips shared in this Microsoft Learn path. You should check it out.
Now let's dive right in. Ready? Let's go!
The next section we want you to include in your resume is Experiences/Projects. This section should contain experiences and projects you have worked on. Depending on the type and amount of professional experience you've acquired, determines if the experience section should be before or after the project section. If you're just starting off and have little or no professional experience relating to the ones in the job description, then you should showcase your projects first.
For each project, write a descriptive name on the first line. On a new line, add the overall idea of the project, the role you played in it and include dates. If these projects or positions are ongoing, write the starting date followed by "- Current". On a new line, add two or three bullet points to describe your experience. Focus on the impact of the project and not just the activity you engaged in.
But what if you do not have any or so much professional experience? Does that mean you’re not qualified to have a resume? No! Everyone deserves to and should have a resume. So how do you go about it?
What if I don’t have any professional experience?
Not to worry if you do not. You are allowed to include volunteer experiences in your resume. Volunteer activities are attractive to recruiters, because they’re great ways to acquire, implement, and demonstrate both your technical and soft skills. It is important to include these experiences in your resume, but ensure they show impact and are eye-catching.
Let’s say you worked on a Python class project that required bug fixing for a calculator to work correctly. You then identified the issues, implemented the fixes, and tested them before turning in the project for grading. Now let’s describe this project:
Calculator Class Project – Example University 2020
- Ensured the correct functionality of a calculator program by identifying X bugs, utilizing Python Exemption classes and debugging tools, implementing fixes, and testing the program through Y test cases.
From the above, you have shown to the reader how you contributed to the project by providing real data (X and Y) to measure your work. This would go a long way in helping you catch the attention of the recruiter and demonstrate how well you’re able to communicate your impact.
What should you look for in a job description?
Before you begin working on your resume, take some time to review the requirements of the position you’re interested in and make sure your resume is positioned to address some of the requirements else it might not pass the recruiter’s first scan. Pay close attention to both technical and human skills and try to tailor your resume to fit them. If possible, provide examples that show how you have exhibited both, in your roles. Now let’s take some time to talk about technical and human skills and how you can properly showcase them.
Employers list out technical skills in two different ways:
- Minimum requirements for the position: Each job description includes the minimum requirements for the role. If your application does not showcase these requirements, you might not go through initial screening. Minimum requirements help you identify which skills you have that align with the role and the skills you would need to develop.
Once identified, explain in your resume how you are already gaining experience in those areas and will likely make progress on them by the time you interview. Remember you do not have to wait till you have all the required skills before you apply for the job. So, if you have some of the required skills you can apply for the role, but ensure you work hard to develop your skills to set yourself up for success.
- Technical skills that are listed as “preferred”: Identify which of these skills you have and which of them you can acquire before your interview in the company.
Human or Soft Skills
Sometimes overlooked, human or soft skills are very important to the success of the team or company. These are non-technical skills companies look out for in their applicants. When reading a job description, identify these skills and demonstrate that you possess them in your resume. To identify these skills, look out for certain keywords such as teamwork and collaboration.
For example, look at the sentence below gotten from a sample job description:
“You will be responsible for driving cross-team collaboration...negotiating design solutions...and will be expected to collaborate with others.”
Now think about different times you have demonstrated the above-listed skills and mention them in your resume.
Demonstrating Impact in your Experiences
The experience section is a great opportunity for you to show the impact you have had. It is important you showcase your experience in short yet insightful bullet points. Demonstrating impact really showcases your skills and paints a vivid picture of your technical and non-technical experiences. Now let’s look at how we can address our experiences both technical and non-technical in the best way and showcase impact.
Here we want you to include anything you had an impact on that can be related to technical skills. This could be:
- Personal or class projects
- Research positions
- Teaching assistant or tutoring positions
- Hackathon projects
Whether you’re applying for a technical or non-technical role, you need to include non-technical experience too. Yes, they matter. Do not focus only on showcasing programming languages, experience with data structures and algorithm or math. Never take non-technical experience lightly.
Non-technical experience provides unique ways to showcase who you are, a critical aspect to convey when you apply for a job. Let’s use the following scenario to explain how you can showcase your non-technical skills.
You are a member of a gardening club, where you care for some of the plants at the club’s nursery, participate in bi-weekly meetings, and help in some of the events held by the club.
Now let’s rewrite this using bullet points and showing impact:
- Maintained the club’s nursery by monitoring and caring for X different plant species, in collaboration with X other members.
- Managed X club activities by attending bi-weekly club meetings, communicating and discussing ideas, and scheduling X events.
- Increased event attendance by X by developing the marketing campaigns of the club in collaboration with a group of X members.
These points describe your experience while highlighting your interests as an individual. You emphasize your interests as an individual. You emphasize your grasp of collaboration, communication, time management, dependability, and decision-making. Your non-technical experience can help you stand out in most cases even more than your technical experience would.
Now that you’ve gone through all points mentioned in this blog and the first, it’s time to build your resume. You can use Microsoft Word or any of your favorite word-processing applications to do this. You can utilize this link: https://templates.office.com/en-gb/resumes-and-cover-letters to access free resume templates from Microsoft.
We want you all to succeed and secure your dream role this year. Here are other things you can do to prepare yourself for opportunities.
- Attend an upcoming Microsoft Virtual Recruiting Event
- Leverage prep resources such as How to prepare for your Microsoft Interview: Virtual Interview - YouTube and Resume and Personal Branding Workshop - YouTube
- Connect with recruiters via our Microsoft University Recruiting LinkedIn Group
- LinkedIn Student Profile Checklist is also a great resource.
- Microsoft Education resources and events for higher education