3 Tips to Improve Your Resume and Help You Get A Summer Job

That sick, sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach after receiving a rejection letter feels like drinking battery acid. But you know what’s even more disgusting? Never receiving any answer at all. In the era of data collection, mass review, and SEO keyword tagging, most resumes never even see the light of day—let alone warrant a rejection letter. 

Below are three tips to improve your resume and (hopefully) boost your chances of getting a summer or semester-long job. 

  1. Be specific. Don’t just say “prepared corporate binders for various merger transactions,” tell them how many, what types of industries these companies were in, and what types of documents you were responsible for. It may seem odd listing it all out—or like you are padding your resume—but a key requirement of your resume is that it describe your experience thus far, and expand upon any areas you’ve taken an interest to. Examples include: types of contracts you reviewed, subject matter or briefs you’ve written, types of client calls/questions you’ve helped answer, and topics of any research assignments you were given. 
  2. Trust your gut. I’m going be honest with you: the resume review staff in my school’s Career Services division had NO idea what they were doing. Every advisor seemed to contradict the one before, and by the end of each session I felt my resume was worse off than when I walked through the door.  Another time, I sent my resume to a company that supposedly was an expert in the area—my resume came back mangled. When I asked what happened, my reviewer told me the company “didn’t have much experience in the legal sector” so they tried to rework it as if I were in marketing or teaching—don’t worry, they still charged me full price. Regardless of who helps you prepare or revise your resume, it should still be a reflection of you at the end. If you don’t like the changes someone made, delete them. If you feel someone deleted your most important skill sets and practice areas, add them back in. At the end of the day, even the “professionals” miss the mark occasionally, it’s important that you do a final review and make the finished product something you are truly happy with. 
  3. Have more than one version.  This tip is one I don’t see a lot of people talk about, but certainly should be mentioned: if you are interested in different sectors and roles, it’s imperative to tailor your resume to each one. Thankfully, this can be a one-and-done process. Simply take your base resume and add or delete sections and skill sets that are suited to that area. If you’re interested in health law, include links to any papers you drafted in class or any thesis or project. If you love litigation, highlight all your volunteer experience at the prosecutor’s office, or mention that “Trial Practice” course you took. Whichever sectors you chose, save your tailored resume in an easily-identifiable format to use during your job search. Bonus points if you do the same for your cover letter too. 

Even if you have a perfect resume and cover letter, there will still be times when companies and firms “ghost” you. I know the urge to refresh your email at 3am, hoping for some good (or any) news on the job front—you are not alone. In some cases, especially where you feel like you’re in career purgatory, it can be helpful to take a break from job applications for a while—focus on a hobby, pet, or visit a friend—much like “a watched pot never boils,” good news doesn’t seem to show up when you seek it out.