You’re smooth sailing into your senior year of college–all confidence, no regrets–when you pull out the old, trusty resume and realize it’s looking a little… sparse. You’re as disappointed in yourself as your roommate was that time you ate her last rice pudding. Not even your mom would hire you for your dream job. All of a sudden you realize the nine months of your senior year is not like a pregnancy: Time is flying and your resume better be smoking when the clock runs out. Lucky for you, CM uncovered 15 tricks to pimp out your resume.
1. Start Something
Employers love to see initiative, leadership and passion. What better way to demonstrate this than by starting an organization on campus? Whether it’s a club, publication, protest or even a viral hashtag, starting something proves that you’re the fiery, world-changing candidate employers want to make their companies better.
2. Learn New Software
The software you learn depends on your field of interest. So if you’re interested in publishing or marketing, try learning InDesign so that you can make book covers and promotional materials. Getting a grasp on Excel is something every employer will appreciate since it’s the universally used and universally misunderstood software. It’s worth doing some research to see what skills are useful for your dream career. Your university might even offer a class on that software– think about it, your senior year doesn’t have to be an entire binge-drinking slide.
Any restaurant or grocery store–in fact, pretty much any part time job–has various levels of management from team-leader to district manager, and getting to the next level will prove you have translatable team leadership skills and dedication that any company will value. Talk to your manager about opportunities for advancement. Then, actually start showing up to your shifts on time.
Resume-wise, volunteering beats time spent on Netflix, so to really stand out, consider choosing something related to your passion. If you want to work with animals, volunteer at a shelter. Get a little creative thinking about how your (free) skills can help somebody. Then go help someone! Bonus: You may discover a new career path.
5. Dominate the Club You’re Already In
Another way to gain those lovable leadership skills is to run for office at a campus club. Literally any club on campus includes leadership positions so you can pursue one at whatever club in which you’re already a member. Even being the slightly useless treasurer will demonstrate that you’re ambitious, organized and responsible. A triple threat, really.
6. Revamp Those Foreign Language Skills
You’ve probably taken basic language courses, and guess what? Employers value people who actually use their language skills. You probably remember more than you think. Get to the level where you can read or converse in a language by reading “The Little Prince” in French, subscribing to a foreign newspaper or finding a school program to practice conversational language. Once you’re comfortably close to fluent, stick it on your resume to impress prospective employers.
7. Finally Join an Honor Society
This one’s easy – all those honor societies begging you to join via email? Google the honor society to see how long it’s been around and the requirements to get in. Research will determine the prestigious from the posers so that you can send in your membership dues and put their fancy Greek name on your resume.
Internships are usually for a semester only and often lead to full time jobs, so this one’s a no brainer. You’ll gain in-office job skills, special training and access to the wisdom of professionals in your field. Plus, you can figure out if that career field is actually for you without committing your soul to it. Contact your school’s career center or local companies you like to find the internship that’s The One for you.
9. Write an Undergraduate Thesis
This task is one of the bigger undertakings on this list, but depending on your field, it could be worthwhile because what better way to show you’re the cream of the senior crop? Undergraduate theses also mean one-on-one time with your professors, which means expert advice and possible recommendations. After they’ve gotten to know you better, their rec letters can detail just how awesome you are.
Show employers your skills have cash value by dabbling in freelance. For creative fields, this can be pretty easy once you have a portfolio of work. Be sure to lowball your price at first, and people will jump on the opportunity to get great work at a low cost.
11. Learn Industry Standards
These are the little things that prove you’ve gone the extra mile. Want to go into publishing? Learn Chicago style editing. Want to go into journalism? Learn APA. Want to go into photography? Use Adobe Photoshop. Ask someone in your field what methods, workflows and code languages your industry prefers. Then, find a way to demonstrate you’re already a pro by applying them in class or in extracurricular activities.
12. Raise Your GPA
Study more aggressively and (gasp) actually turn in all your work. While a year is not enough to bring up your GPA a full point, you can go from a 3.2 to a 3.6. Yes, .4 makes a difference. Showing you’re a dedicated student by having a high GPA will prove you’ll be a dedicated employee, too.
13. Take an IQ Test
If you get a score high enough to get into Mensa, slap that on your resume. Only a tiny percentage of applicants can claim they’re geniuses and you’ll gain an advantage on other candidates. Be sure the test you take is official because random Internet quizzes are no dice.
14. Commodify Your Passion
Find a way to take the things you’re already doing to the next level to show your dedication. Like movies? Try making a film or YouTube series. Like animals? Start a campaign in your community to help adopt more animals. Demonstrating commitment to a passion always impresses employers.
15. Ask a Mentor for Advice
Ask your professors to get you in touch with someone in your dream job, or cut out the middle man, and straight up find his email on a company website or Linked-In and genuinely ask for advice. You’ll impress him with your curiosity and get a better understanding of your field. Cherish any tips that give you the low down on standing out during the job application process like you cherish reruns of Friends.