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Resume writing can be a challenge when you’re just wrapping up your college career. From low-level summer jobs to brief internships, it can feel like you have zero qualifications for your target position.

Consider your resume as an employer’s first impression of you. Create a killer resume based on these do’s and don’ts and you’ll be on the fast track to landing the job of your dreams.

Don’t get too cute with your resume style.

Design matters when you want to submit a resume that earns you a face-to-face interview. The most effective resumes are those with simple, clean designs that showcase your ability to tackle a job rather than show off your penchant for style. If you’re entering a creative field, like design or advertising, save the creativity showcase for your portfolio.

In general, avoid:

  • Fancy fonts
  • Non-standard paper sizes, shapes, or colors
  • Distracting images or backgrounds
  • Distracting inserts, like confetti or glitter

Check out The 41 Best Resume Templates Ever from The Muse, a good source of career advice and guidance.

Do send the resume in the right file format.

If the company provides application instructions, read them thoroughly to make sure you send the resume and cover letter in the requested file format.

However, if the prospective employer doesn’t specify a file format or if it provides options, always send it as a PDF. This file type is ideal because the formatting won’t become skewed when the recruiter opens the document.

In addition, a PDF document prevents the recruiter from accidentally typing extra characters or deleting parts of your resume—a disaster that can easily happen with file formats like Word.

Don’t clutter your resume with ancient history.

High school was four or more years ago, a virtual lifetime when you’re still a young adult. Focus on highlighting your accomplishments and work experience during college instead of what you did during high school.

Create a killer resume by showing employers you have the recent, relevant experience to get the job done. List any college coursework outside your major that supports your ability to do the job along with, if applicable, related internships or job experiences.

Do take advantage of keywords.

Hiring managers scan for specific words—keywords—to help them match candidates to the open position. In some cases, the managers do it as they read the document; others use applicant tracking systems (ATSs) that screen resumes for specified keywords.

Keywords are typically related to the skills you possess that would make you a good fit for that specific job. For example, resume keywords for jobs in engineering might include:

  • Components and assemblies
  • Data collection and analysis
  • Design build
  • Project management
  • Prototyping

You can work keywords into the Core Competencies or Skills section of the resume. Or you can incorporate them into sentences throughout the cover letter and resume. But use them wisely! If you shove keywords into every sentence, it will make the resume unreadable and make you look unprofessional.

Now, get out there and create a killer resume that lands your dream job!

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