Practical Resume Tips: Don’t Lose Your First Dream Job

Preparing a resume and cover letter during your last semester can be an incredibly tense and stressful time. Everything is on the line. You’ve spent the last four years (at least) getting an education, and now you have to prove it.

We’ve compiled some tips to make sure your transition into the working world is smooth:

One Page Only

If your resume looks great but it reads like one of your college philosophy books, there is no way an employer is going to take time to decode your hidden messages. Be direct and concise. They don’t want to read your life story.

Also, if you’re just finishing college, they assume you don’t have much experience, and they do not want to read three detailed pages about your high school awards. Chances are if you’re being considered for an entry-level position, your potential employer knows exactly what they’re looking for. Don’t complicate it for them.

Format Consistency & Alignment

This seemingly insignificant portion of your resume is your future employer’s first look at how organized and systematic you are. If your alignment varies from section to section or if you tabbed over an area where you shouldn’t, employers will notice. Attention to detail can be the difference between a new job with a great salary and ramen-ridden unemployment.

Punctuation & spelling

You should always spellcheck. There is a wonderful invention standard on most document editing software that helps prevent misspellings. There is no excuse. Your potential employers will agree. It also helps to read a hard copy. You will catch things in print you didn’t catch digitally.

Sporadic punctuation may help you gain attention on your resume, but trust me. It is not the kind of attention you want. If you end one sentence in a list with a period, end all lines with a period. If you are not constructing full sentences, but put a period in any way… throw your resume away and start over. Commas are important, so use them correctly. Semi-colons usually aren’t necessary; use them sparingly.

Tense Consistency

Make sure if you “Have experience in” one thing, you continue to use the active present tense throughout your document (don’t revert back to “experienced in”). This small change in verbiage (And trust me. It is small.) could land you the job or leave you out in the unemployed pool of hopefuls.

Relevant Experience

If you’re the typical college student, you have probably jumped from job to job gathering as many hours as you can to pay bills. PLEASE NOTE: Not all of your work experience is important. No one cares that you folded shirts at Gap. If you play your cards right, you can create a resume that makes you seem perfect for one job and another resume that makes you seem perfect for a completely different job.

Your relevant experience is gold! Highlight skills each position requests, using the same wording when you can (without appearing to have copied it from their website). It’s all about versatility. Spend time phrasing your experience to demonstrate high problem solving skills instead of good decision-making.


If you don’t have a 3.8 or higher, don’t put your GPA on your resume. We all know you may be proud of the 93 in Organic Chemistry, but it is better to leave out anything that may classify you as less than the best.

Including your education on your resume is debated among many professionals, so it is up to you if you want to include it or not, but we recommend you feature your strengths. If your education isn’t something you’re extremely proud of, don’t feature it. Brag on something you feel makes you more suited for the position.

StudyPods allows you to create a Pod to connect with your classmates and other students worldwide, form study groups, upload and share files, complete assignments and help each other get better grades. Check them out at 



As college students, we hear about all of the benefits of internship experience and all of the horror stories. But are internships are really worth our time?

The truth of the matter is internships can be super useful, if you get the right one, but, how are you supposed to find the “right one?” Will there be some flashing neon sign? Maybe a small voice saying “pick this one?” Well, chances are neither of these things will happen, but here are some tools to help you choose the right internship for you.


If you can, your options will open up dramatically. A lot of positions are unpaid mostly because they are paying you in experience. However, experience won’t pay your phone bill this month, so make sure you can afford it before you accept.


People graduate all the time and end up accepting positions that aren’t in their desired field or exactly what they wish they were doing. An internship is not the time for that. Internships are meant to prepare you for your long-term career, so set your sights high and don’t settle. (This will help you with the whole “not getting paid” thing.)


If you can, find an employer who is genuinely invested in your growth. Look for places will full internship programs for your first internship. These programs are designed with you in mind, and will often offer training and education beyond your specific position. After your first internship, you can spread out to something with a little less supervision, but it’s always a good idea to play it safe until you know you can get the job done and get it done right.


Sometimes you may have to run out and get everyone lunch or grab your boss’ coffee. This is part of being an intern. But if your position also offers you real-life experience that your friends would kill for, like contributing to a huge company project that offers travel benefits, then suck it up buttercup because it could be a whole lot worse. However, if you find the extent of your job responsibilities are saying saying “grande latte and a tall capuccino,” you should consider finding another internship.


Especially if you’re not getting paid, you should try to receive at least some kind of credit for your hard work. Talk with your academic adviser and see if you can work something out. Independent study works great for these types of situations.


If you don’t like your projects, that’s OK. Unfortunately, you still need to get them done. If you can take it on, ask for more responsibility possibly in an area you are interested in. Take this opportunity to talk with people from various departments, form networks, and have fun. Treat every situation like a learning opportunity and don’t be discouraged when you mess everything up. You’re an intern, you’re supposed to mess up so you can get better.

Sometimes you’ll probably want to quit. This internship experience may even make you reconsider your major or influence you to add an additional minor, but that’s the purpose. If you’re frustrated that’s OK. If you’re ALWAYS confused that’s also OK. Ask for help and just keep your head up. You will get through this, just keep going.

StudyPods allows you to create a Pod to connect with your classmates and other students worldwide, form study groups, upload and share files, complete assignments and help each other get better grades. Check them out at 

Turns Out…It is Who you Know!!

When given the opportunity, someone is going to hire someone they know over someone they don’t. It may feel crappy when it happens to you, but if you think about it objectively….of course they hired the person they knew. Let’s be honest, most of us got our first job not through our skill but because the person who hired us knew (or were) our parents.

Hiring people is no fun at the best of times. You have to post your job, get resumes, screen candidates, interview, select and then start all over again if the person does not work out. There are so many unknowns…Will the person fit in?  Are they truly a hard worker? Have they been completely honest? Facing a decision between someone that seems amazing that you do not know at all and someone you know is good… is no decision at all….you go with the person you know.

So as a student what can you do to even the playing field?

Do all of this and you will become the person that was hired because of who you knew. It is is more fun defending why you were hired than complaining about why you were not!!

5 Rookie Mistakes to Avoid as an Intern or Entry-Level Talent

Are you getting ready to embark on your first internship or job right out of college? If so, you should be careful to avoid certain rookie mistakes in order to give yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in your new role. As a previous Director of Career Services and Recruiter, I’ve seen numerous employee mistakes that could have been avoided if the talent was made aware of what not do before they started their position.

Here’s some of my favorite to avoid:

1) Showing up late and not calling ahead of time.

This is a sure way to make a poor first day impression and annoy any boss or internship manager. It is not ok to wait until you are already 20 minutes late to call and say that you are running late. By that point it is already too late! This is a rookie mistake that happens all to often and should be avoided at all costs. If you think you are not going to make it to the office at the required start time then you should call at least 10 minutes before your are late to notify your manager. This shows that you value other peoples’ time and gives the manager a chance to adjust their schedule.

2) Neglecting to thank those that help you.
As you start out in your career there are many people that will help you along the way. Whether it is training you to use the company intranet or offering you guidance on how to submit a request to helpdesk, you will have to ask for help at some point of your employment. Don’t forget to thank those who help you to get acclimated to your new environment. Showing appreciation for your peers in the workplace can go a long way when starting a new job and not doing so can be viewed as being ungrateful or obtuse.

3) Not owning up to your mistakes
Honesty really is the best policy when it comes to the workplace. If you make a mistake on a project or forget to do something that was asked of you, own up to your error immediately. This could actually build trust among your peers and boss. Everyone will know you are human and make mistakes but even more importantly, they will see that you have the willingness to admit your mistake for the betterment of the team. Not doing so will come back to bite you in the rear! Often times, it is important to admit when an error was made because it can have a chain effect on other peoples’ duties and projects. If you are working as part of a team, it is extremely important for everyone to be on the same page. Not owning up to a mistake right away could cause larger problems down the road.

4) Being too casual.
As a newbie it is often advised to do a lot of listening for at least the first 30 days. Keep your personal opinions to yourself or you might end up sticking your foot in your mouth by offending people you do not really know or understand. Take some time to learn about the culture of the company before you start calling your boss, “Dude!” Asking questions is fine but talking to others as if you are at a college dorm party is not appropriate. Hold back from over-sharing too much personal information and try to keep things focused on business. After you are settled in the role for a couple months you will have a better understanding of what is appropriate within the culture of the organization.

5) Saying, “That’s not my job!”
This is a sure fire way to not look like a “team player.” Maybe you said it because you feel overloaded already and are a bit overwhelmed. Yes, everyone has a job description but a job description can never illustrate what will be required of you as an employee over the term of your employment. New projects come up and responsibilities change depending on needs and available resources. Look at these times as opportunities to stretch your skills and duties. So if your boss or someone else asks you to help with something that seems unfamiliar to you then be honest about your abilities and availability and if you can do it then try saying something like: I’ve never done that before in my current role but I am open to trying something new.” This type of response will enable you more opportunities in the future and others will recognize you as someone they can depend on and possibly promote in the future.

About the Contributor
Marc Scoleri, CEO Creative Village, LLC and Co-Founder of has over 15 years of experience in creative recruiting, career development and talent management. Numerous companies including Apple, Marvel Entertainment, CNBC, McGraw-Hill, and HBO have worked with Marc to recruit student interns; many of them have been recruited as entry-level employees. These companies benefit by having a steady pipeline of creative interns before they hire talent full-time thus saving them thousands of dollars on recruiting costs and lowering their risk of poor hires. In addition, a quality internship program can identify talent that fits a company’s culture.

Top 3 Professional Benefits to Volunteering

Volunteering is and always will be a way to make a difference in your community and toward the causes you support. You do it because you care. But also consider this: volunteering is a pathway to reaching your professional goals. You give of yourself, your time and your talents, and you not only benefit your community, you benefit yourself, both personally and professionally. Not sold yet? Take a look at these top three benefits to volunteering and see if community service might be the right fit for your budding career.

1. Free Experience & Training

Have you looked at job postings and found yourself frustrated by the list of qualifications required for even entry level positions? You need experience using a particular software program or leading a project. Or maybe you want to explore other professional interests, but aren’t sure how to break into the field or whether or not you even want to pursue it academically.Rather than pay for that training or education, consider volunteering as though it were an internship. If you know the experience and training you want to receive, you can look for volunteer organizations offering those opportunities. Not seeing the listings you need? That’s where you can start approaching nonprofits about offering a particular type of service, especially if it’s not your expertise. After all, that’s why you’re doing it. When you find a good match, it will benefit you as a professional and the organization as a service provider.

2. Networking

It pays to know people. We’ve all heard the saying and when it comes to your career, it really rings true. Having someone personally recommend you for a position is quite different than applying for a job posting you see on the internet. Networking is an ongoing process and volunteering offers you a new host of professional references and connections to make. You’ll have the opportunity to network with the professionals employed by that volunteer organization, as well as their community partners. But don’t forget the Board of Trustees — these are established and often well-connected professionals from many types of fields (including law, accounting, marketing, real estate, fundraising, etc.) who are dedicated to that organization’s mission. Find an organization providing services within your field, and you’ll increase your chances of finding and impressing an entire new professional network.

3. Reaching Your Professional Goal

Piece together these first two benefits and you’ve enhanced yourself professionally. Having done so through such a well-respected path, such as volunteering, and you’ve also impressed potential references and employers.

Once you identify your professional goal - be it a promotion, a new position or a new venture - and you’ve established yourself within the volunteer organization, consider your next steps. Tell your new network about your goal, and perhaps you can have them review your resume and cover letter, ask if they can serve as a professional reference, recommend you for an opening or help continue to expand you professionally. If you feel so moved by the organization itself, inquire about job openings where you’ve volunteered. Whatever your goal may be, if your service and dedication to their program has been a benefit to them, they will be invested in you as a person, a professional and as someone they want to support.

So the next time you find yourself thinking about how you are going to reach your professional goals, consider the power of volunteering and all that becomes possible when you give of yourself.

Sabrina Norrie is co-founder and CEO of Zero Bound, an upcoming website platform for students and alumni to crowdfund their student loans through sponsored volunteerism. You pay it down by paying it forward. For more information about Zero Bound and it’s 2013 launch, visit or contact the Zero Bound team at


Summer Job Blues

The winter is starting to make way for spring. It is the time of year when certain questions occupy the mind of the student…. “Why would they book two exams on the same day?”, “Am I going to pass?”, “Where will I work for the summer?” and “Why didn’t they hire me?” To address the final question, this week’s blog will share the top 6 reasons you were NOT hired.

Follow these tips and it will not guarantee you get the job, it will simply increase the odds of getting put at the top of the list. Good luck on getting the job of your dreams. Make sure you take the time to visit and check out the job opportunities that may be perfect for you!!!

What Experience?

You do not get the job because you do not have enough experience, but you cannot get experience because you do not get the job. As a student entering the workforce I am sure this exact thought has run through your head at one time or another.  Even if you have not thought it, I am sure most of you would agree with the statement. Most of us take at face value that it is difficult for students to find work, and the majority of that difficulty is due to a lack of experience. To borrow a quote from the recent Vice President debates, that’s a bunch of malarkey.

Experience is not the problem, never has been. The true challenge lies in a student’s inability to identify where experience comes from.  Most students believe that the only experience that matters is the experience we get from working. That is simply not true. We develop skills through the breadth of our activities be them at work, at home or at school.

As a student you have to realize that everything you do builds your skills and experience. Work on a project at school with classmates; you just enhanced your teamwork, problem solving and leaderships skills. Play a video game online; you just increased your communication and critical thinking skills. Eat a sandwich…okay not all things build your experience.

Once you have identified where you get your experience make sure you adjust your resume to ensure that you promote it. Tell perspective employers about the things you do and the experience those things provide you. When asked if you have ever worked as part of a team, tell them about what you did in school. When asked about your leadership skills, tell them about helping a neighbor organize his move. When asked about your business experience, tell them about selling stuff at a yard sale.  The ability to connect your activities to your skills is essential to your success.

Pretty soon you will be too busy talking about your hobbies, volunteering and classroom activities to worry about your “lack” of experience.

Michael Sanderson is the VP of Education and Training for Equals 6 and is committed to enhancing the knowledge and skills of everyone

Standing Out – Position Yourself at the Top

Let’s face it – differentiating oneself from the droves of other students/graduates of the same school, program, etcetera is difficult.  Getting good grades while finding ways to make yourself more desirable and more unique as a potential employer is time consuming and certainly doesn’t guarantee employment, but it’s completely worth it.  You might not see it now, but your volunteer hours with a school society or your local Food Bank, for example, will look great on your resume because employers know those types of activities build translatable skills, and that it takes an organized and conscientious individual to regularly volunteer for one or several organizations consistently.

Below I’ve listed several ways in which you can stand out to employers:

1. Brand and advertise yourself

You are your own advertising firm, and your purpose is to sell your product: you.  Check out my previous article “Hire Me!” to see  how you can do so, but it a nutshell: create an online presence, target HR Managers and Department Supervisors with approaches tailored to their industry, volunteer and win awards, and invest in some online or print content advertising for yourself.  Keep your resume updated on all platforms, and have business cards


2. Research Your Industry

Check out your industry in the location where you want to work.  What companies are available, and which ones are most desirable for you?  Choose the top three to five, and find out who their HR Managers are.  Message those individuals well in advance of graduating or seeking a job, and ask if you can meet with them to discuss how you can best appeal to them as a candidate for a job within their organization.  Be sure to know in which kinds of their jobs you’re interested and the details about the company.


3. Volunteer

I can’t emphasize this point enough; you must volunteer for an organization in order gain the skills, experience, and connections in order to appeal to employers and get the job you want upon graduation.  Find an organization related to your field of study, and if you can’t do that, find one that will give you skills you can transfer to the work you will do in your industry.  Usually, these types of jobs include office experience, team work, individual research, event planning, or working with different groups in society (like youth at risk or those with disabilities) which may be useful to you.  For finding volunteer positions, it would be best to look on your campus career services website, on local organizations’ websites, or, if you’re travelling in Canada, check out


4. Utilize Co-op Programs an Work Experience

I can’t speak enough to the value of Co-op programs.  They pay better than your common university-student job, they give you tons of related experience and professional contacts, and it’s a great way to feel out whether you are taking the right degree, or to determine what discipline in your degree you want to pursue.  For most programs, you have to achieve a certain GPA and you have to pay a nominal fee, however, it is probably one of the most useful decisions you’ll make in your career.  Check out the co-op centre at your university or college for more info.


Be smart about where you choose to work in general. Try to find employment in your field, even if you’re not working in the job you want.  As long as you’re working in the atmosphere, you’ll learn lots and possibly make connections to help you in the long run. If you’re planning on working in an office environment, find a job that provides office-related experience.  If your job will be physical, work in a job that requires labour.  Use common sense and start early.


5. Win Awards

Nothing says you’re an overachiever quite like owning a multitude of awards.  Scholarships, competitive awards, recognition awards, good Samaritan awards, dean’s list awards; all are great indications of hard work, dedication, and drive.  In your university/college, you should be able to find a page on their website dedicated to scholarships, and staff are usually available to help you with your applications.  Student Awards is also a great resource for finding awards, and they regularly offer awards just for completing surveys, which is really simple.  Don’t forget, Equals6 offers scholarships as well.


That’s it!  If you have any more questions about anything HR-related, send me a message on my profile (Stephanie Pronk) or email pronk[dot]stephanie[at]!


Happy hunting!

Hire Me! Creative Ways to Find a Job

Now, it’s time to start thinking about joining the rank and file of the adult world.  If you are planning ahead (which you absolutely should), you should start thinking about getting a job now. In fact, some individuals, usually the individuals who end up landing their dream jobs (and you know the point of my articles are to help you do just that), plan for it well in advance, and get creative about it.  If you really want to catch the eye of potential employers and get them coming to you with job offers, getting creative is a good way to do that.  The old strategies of printing your resume on different colored paper, calling the employer, or visiting the office to drop off an application in person, are things everyone does now.  It’s time to ramp it up and stand out!  Below I’ve listed tips on how to stand out from the crowd in your job hunt, with examples on how others have done it, and succeeded.

Before we start, make sure you’ve planned ahead. You’re not going to land a great job if you don’t a.) know what you want and b.) start planning for it early.  First, know what your career path is.  Where and in what field do you want to work, and how are you working towards getting the qualifications to do that?  If you do have the qualifications to do something in your field, it’s time to start thinking about how you’re going to grab the attention of employers to win the position over hundreds of other applicants with more experience than you!

Below are the ways you can do something outrageous to catch an employer’s attention:

1. Think Big and Unusual

For example, as a Graphic Designer looking for a job in an advertising firm, you could design and purchase a billboard sign placed in an area of town frequented by advertising firms.  This guy did, and from his $300 investment, he got a job within a few days!   Advertising doesn’t have to be in a newspaper or on a billboard; Facebook and Google advertising is fairly cheap and you can really target it to potential employers.

 2. Show Off Your Published Work

Get your work published.  Find out if you can publish your articles in a local newspaper, or have the events you organize advertised in local media.  Then, after it’s published, you could send (or email) copies of magazines or newspapers that have published your work, or info about you as a reward recipient, to potential employers with your work earmarked.  Including your resume or at least contact info as well is essential.


3. Re-create Your Resume in a Unique Format

Create a visual presentation to woo potential employers into hiring you. One person did it, and received over 300,000 views in one week! See that and other examples of great SlideShare presentations here.   Additional ways to stylize an online resume can be found here.


4. Increase Your Online Presence

Increasingly, websites like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Equals6 are the recruitment tool of choice for employers, especially when it comes to new grads.  Make sure your profiles are 100% complete and say something more about you than the standard profile would.  Upload a creative picture, create a more concise and targeted description of yourself, and remain professional on said sites; your private personal life should not be published on the web, period.  Brandon Kleinman uploaded an album for his resume and it worked beautifully for him.

And don’t forget to create an online presence on other online media as well.  Creating your own website, a QR Code to put on your business cards, or a YouTube video, are great additional ways to prove yourself to an employer before they even meet you.


5. Create Your Own Approach

You know your industry and its particulars better than most other people, so spend some time brainstorming how you can best target employers in your field. Would a different looking résumé or a phone call to the HR Department do the trick?  Usually you need to put in a little more effort and creativity to get through to employers, so give it some thought!  Don’t be afraid to try something different as long as it’s appropriate!


There you have it!  Keep in mind that even though you may be doing a great job to create all of these new ways to attract employers, you may still have difficulty in finding a job.  Perseverance, and changing your approach to find out what works are great tactics.

Happy hunting!

Don’t Get an MBA, Go Network

Last week I had the pleasure of going to a Halifax Fusion networking event. It was designed to reach out to students and give them the chance to listen to some amazing speakers. While a lot of what they said was excellent, there was one piece of advice that really stuck out for me. It was something that I’ve always privately thought, but I’d never heard the words said out loud before.

The advice was this: Don’t go and get an MBA. Now I will clarify since I have probably annoyed someone.

Do not go from your first degree directly into the MBA program. This will leave you no time to build your experience in your field. The reason for this advice is that is the starting job postings are still postings that require 1-3 years of experience. The sooner you can get hired is the sooner you can start building a real professional history. So how do you get hired? The rest of the advice centered on this question and the idea of “Networking Your Face Off”.

If you aren’t sure where to begin networking, look for a local group dedicated to it, or volunteer with an organization, maybe using your business skills to help public works groups. Anywhere you can meet the people who can make you. I always hear a tone of disdain in someone’s voice when they say the phrase “It’s not what you know, but who you know”, and I feel it’s undeserved. In order to earn my position at, I made sure to know the people in my industry. I went to every networking event I could during my last 2 years at SMU. I shook every hand I could, I researched companies, topics of interest, and I followed every CEO I met on Twitter. Just because you know someone doesn’t mean you didn’t earn that contact through hard work.

I do believe that MBA’s have a place but that place is not right after a Bachelor’s degree. Get out there early so you can meet the people that can help you get a job sooner and get to work.