With summer coming to a close and the fall semester upon us, a fresh set of internship opportunities and professional experiences are on the horizon. As we prepare for a school year full of new beginnings, what better way to put your best foot forward than with a new resume?

Whether you’re looking for a new job or putting together your portfolio, a fresh resume complete with your newest experiences, top skills, and best accomplishments is a great place to start. However, crafting the perfect resume can be overwhelming and intimidating. Here are a few tips I’ve found to be helpful for designing a successful resume:

Don’t be afraid to get creative.

When applying to creative fields, which is not uncommon for advertising and public relations students, employers tend to appreciate resumes that go beyond Microsoft Word. Using fun color combinations, interesting icons, and innovative designs in your resume can help you stand out in a pool of applicants.

I recommend trying out Canva, a free graphic design platform with countless resume templates to choose from, when you’re building your resume. Canva’s selection of pre-made resumes are a great way to get ideas for your own design. If you do choose to create your resume with one of Canva’s templates, I suggest taking the time to change the colors/fonts/icons a bit so the document is unique to you.

Cater to the job application.

The best resumes fit a job description perfectly and convey the exact skills and experience an employer is looking for. For this reason, it’s rare that you’ll use the same resume for two different job applications. If you’re applying to be a social media specialist, you’ll want to highlight your experience and skills related to social media. If you’re applying to be an events coordinator, on the other hand, you’ll want to share your knowledge of event planning.

When crafting your resume, carefully consider a given job description and draft your experiences and skills using its keywords and phrases. If the language of your resume correlates closely to what an employer is looking for, they’ll be more inclined to take a closer look at what you have to offer.

Showcase your personal brand.

What’s your personal brand? Soft blues with a script font or dark greens with bolded text? Start developing your own personal brand by determining a set of coordinating colors and fonts that represent you and apply them to all of your professional documents.

A consistent and cohesive personal brand exudes professionalism and tells the public who you are as an individual. Your personal brand can also help build recognition within an employer. When you apply the same designs to your resume, cover letter, and references, employers will begin to recognize the documents as yours, helping you stand out as an applicant.

Stick to the important stuff.

A resume is one concise page of your best experiences, skills, and accomplishments. You’re never going to be able to fit everything you’ve done on a single 8.5×11 sheet of paper, so it’s okay to leave some things out while making sure you’re still using every inch of space wisely. 

When determining content to cut, consider what you feel is important for employers to know about you. Is it more valuable to share where you went to high school or that you’re certified in Google Analytics? I also recommend leaving out irrelevant personal information, such as your home address, and presenting your references in a separate document to keep others’ personal information as private as possible. Finally, try not to include a photo of yourself, as doing so can potentially lead to bias and discrimination from an employer.

In conclusion, there’s no one right way to write a resume that’s the beauty of the job application process! You’re free to exercise your creativity and showcase your experiences in any way you see fit. However, if you ever find yourself wondering where to start or what to include, hopefully these tips can help you down the path to resume success.

About the Author:

Rebekah is a senior at GVSU majoring in advertising and public relations and minoring in writing. She is the VP of Public Relations for GVSU’s PRSSA chapter and serves as an Account Executive for GrandPR. She works as a PR Student Strategist for Piper & Gold Public Relations. In her free time, she enjoys reading, being outdoors, or spending time with friends and family.