Resume 101: How to approach your summer internship
Okay—so this is going to seem totally premature, because you’re probably only a few weeks into your summer internship, but—it’s time to start thinking about what you’re going to write about your internship on your resume.
Here at Nlyst, we have received over a thousand resumes for the 2019 launch of the service—and, after analyzing all of those resumes and providing detailed feedback to more than 200 candidates, we identified some key steps that you can take to help you stand out on your next job application.
But first—put yourself in the shoes of an entry-level recruiter (or an Applicant Tracking System—which is increasingly sifting resumes without human intervention) to better understand the reasons a resume doesn’t get through to a phone screen. The job of an entry-level recruiter is to take a stack of 100 or 1000 applications and winnow the pile down to the ten candidates worthy of a 30 minute phone screen. All else being equal—when looking to eliminate sometimes 90 or even 99 percent of the population at the first filter, the easiest way to chuck applicants onto the burn pile is to find simple and nitpicky reasons to eliminate them from contention.
Get the format right. Formatting your resume is not a creative endeavor—a good resume is easy to read, from top to bottom. Surprisingly, every single one of the first 100 example resumes on a Google image search for “Resume Format” breaks one of our resume taboos.
1: The Header
Your header should include the name that you use when you introduce yourself to business contacts. If your government name is Maximillion Amadeus Roosevelt, but you go by “Max Roosevelt” … just put Max Roosevelt.
It should include a phone number, an email address (with an “@” sign for automated scrapers), a link to your LinkedIn page (or Github if you’re a developer, etc.)
A physical address in the header is optional, however, if all of your internships were in California, but you live and are applying to jobs in New York, you might choose to include it.
Don’t include a summary (“Max is an innovative strategic problem solver”)—there’s science here (thanks to TalentWorks), but trust us, it doesn’t help.
Unless you have more than two years of professional experience, following the header, the next section should list your Education.
If you have more than two years of work experience, then your Work Experience should be the first section beneath the header.
3: Work Experience
This is where you list all of your internships and jobs
If you have no work experience, or it stinks, or its completely irrelevant to the role to which you’re applying, you may add a section above “Work Experience” called “Leadership Experience” where you’re going to talk about sports and clubs, or “Academic Experience” where you’re going to talk about specific projects that you worked on where you demonstrated relevant skills
4: Additional Skills
Finally, list your language and technical skills in an “Additional Skills” section at the bottom.
English speaker only? Don't sweat it, or say that you're a beginner. Skip languages and just list the Computer Skills that you have acquired (and this should include anything from the job description that you have used in the past).
5: Other Pointers
Make sure similar information (locations, dates, roles) are aligned vertically. Use tables in Word to help.
You can download a Word version of our recommended Resume format here: [Nlyst Resume Template]
Proofread, then proofread again. Resumes get thrown out for silly stuff.
Use this checklist:
Spelling and Grammatical errors: e.g. their, there, they’re; typos; subject/verb agreement.
Use the Active Voice: the opposite of the Active Voice is the Passive Voice; if you described your experience as thought it happened to you (instead of you made it happen), you’re probably using the Passive Voice. Example: “all milestones were completed on time” (passive voice) versus “Completed all milestones on time” (active voice).
Consistency of formatting, verb tense, and punctuation: if you bold the location of one role, then bold them all. If you end your experience bullet-points in one section with periods, use periods for them all. If you describe your experiences in the past tense for a role, describe them all in past tense. The one exception here is that you may choose to list your current role in present tense and all experience for previous roles in past tense.
Finished Proofreading? Now Proofread it again, and check all of your spacing and alignment, and make sure that you don’t have any letters (lowercase gs, js, ys) that are cut off in your beautifully formatted tables.
IF YOU READ NOTHING ELSE. The way you describe your experience is the most important thing on your resume that you can control TODAY (assuming your school and companies you’ve worked for are already set in the past). The number one thing Recruiters are looking for in your experience is IMPACT. How do you demonstrate impact?
Model Bulletpoints demonstrating Impact
First, state what you accomplished. If your job was to find efficiencies in an operational process, the point is that you “Identified 10 efficiency improvements” not that you “analyzed operational processes.” If you were tasked with reorganizing a customer service ticket filing system, the point is that you “increased customer service team efficiency” not that you “sorted 10,000 pieces of paper”
Second, measure what you accomplished. After you identified efficiency improvements, the fact that there were ten of them isn’t as relevant as the fact that, if implemented, they would lead to over 60% reduction in time spent per widget produced.
Third, identify the skills that enabled you to accomplish the result. If you mapped a process using Visio, or analyzed Google Adwords data, then mention it as an enabling skill.
In the end, you will have fewer bullet points, that read more like: “Discovered over 1000 new sales leads, leading to 10 new customer acquisitions adding approximately $300k in customer Lifetime Value, by researching LinkedIN Influencers and cultivating relationships via social media.”
Recruiters move fast (and automated Applicant Tracking Systems move faster) so if there are keywords in a job description that you weren’t able to insert into your high impact bullet point, then you can include an additional bulletpoint for each role describing responsibilities, including your list of keywords that align to the job posting.
I’ve spent 1000 words talking about resumes after I told you I was going to talk about internships. Why?
Working backwards from what you’d like to say about your internship in your resume—sit down with your manager this week (literally, this week), and take them line by line through a list of what you would like to say you have accomplished by the end of the summer, with a focus on impact.
Don’t focus so much on the measurements, as you do on the opportunities and skills you would need to get there—and put together a four week plan to get buy-in from the individuals within the organization who can invest the time, and have the authority, to create the opportunities. You will find your internship delivers 10x more value for your career if you take this careful planning approach and set realistic goals for your summer.