A recent graduate with Masters and Bachelors wrote to ask for a recommendation on handling internships on a resume. This eager job seeker has limited communications experience largely focused on internships. The primary experience gained while attending college was in retail merchandising and healthcare. The question is whether a functional resume is better since the communications internships are more important and relevant to landing and thus should be at the top.
Well, no doubt the communications internships are more relevant since they relate directly to obtaining a position in communications and ultimately a lifelong career.
Today, however, with so many people looking for work in a down economy, brevity, clarity and substance are the key factors in a resume. Resumes that are the simplest read, easy to understand and compelling are the ones that get to "selected-in" rather than discarded out.
So here are some to do’s for optimizing the chances that your resume ends up in the “selected-in” pile and not the “selected-out” bin:
1. Develop a resume in reverse chronological order to make it easy for the hiring manager to get a sense of flow of your career and avoid the danger of obfuscation.
2. A resume is about accomplishments, not a job description. So get yourself a comfortable working space and sit down and think long about all of the jobs you have had. Next, write down your accomplishments for each, giving careful thought to what you achieved for your employer. Prioritize the points and pick the top three or four to place in your resume.
3. For those jobs not directly related to PR, consider those accomplishments that have implications for public relations functions or disciplines. For example, if you worked at retail, think about how you helped customers select a product or solved an issue related to what they purchased. This kind of experience could be valuable to a potential employer that is looking for a PR person with retail experience.
4. Also target, target, target. If you are able, make sure that your resume and cover letter are targeted to the position specs and to the company. Organizations either screen resumes by hand or automatically with software that analyzes keywords. If your letter and resume do not contain the right keywords, it is likely to end up in the "selected-out" pile. So target, target, target.