Many people go to graduate school to acquire the knowledge and skills they need to take their career in exciting new directions. If these sound like your professional goals, then you're going to want to consider updating your resume over the course of your graduate studies.
Taking such action will save you a lot of time once graduation day rolls around. After all, if you have an opportunity to apply for your dream job, you want to have a resume ready that's up to date and can be submitted at a moment's notice - not one that hasn't been updated since before you enrolled in graduate school.
Here are a few things to consider to ensure that you have a quality resume that you'd be happy to show potential employers before you even earn your graduate degree:
Get down the basics
It's not uncommon for resumes to be formatted differently, but there are certain stylistic choices on which most people agree. For starters, the information presented should be simple and to the point. A resume is not a novel. If you have a lot to say, try to share it in a cover letter or during an interview.
If your current resume is hard to follow or features unnecessary images that clutter up the page, it's time to go back to the drawing board. Just make sure it includes your name, contact information, work experience, education and skills. An effective resume typically features an objective as well. This portion of the document, which is usually placed after your name and contact information, allows you to briefly explain what your employment goals are, according to The College Board.
Read it over a few times
Never assume your resume is ready to go once you finish typing it out. Everyone makes mistakes. You'd hate to apply for your dream job, only to realize you submitted a resume loaded with typos or missing key information.
Employers see all kinds of mistakes on the resumes they receive. A 2013 CareerBuilder study revealed many of them. For example, one document featured "Skills" spelled "Skelze," while another resume was written in Star Trek's Klingon language. Sometimes applicants make mistakes that are both embarrassing and easily avoidable, such as forgetting to include their name.
Thankfully, these types of mistakes can be prevented when you and at least one other person reads over your resume before you submit it.
"Before sending your resume, have at least one person you trust review it so that it can have a better chance of catching the eyes of the employer," Samantha Zupan, a spokesperson for Glassdoor, told Forbes.
This step takes some discipline, and it's never finished. You need to constantly update your resume throughout graduate school and beyond. After all, you never know when an amazing opportunity will present itself.
Over the course of your graduate school career, be mindful of what you're learning and the types of activities you're participating in. Have you acquired any new skills while pursuing an advanced degree? Are you working part time on or off campus? Maybe you're interning with a company to gain valuable experience. Definitely don't forget to ask these types of questions and include this information on your resume.
So long as your resume is never far from your mind, you'll have a document you're proud of. When it's time to apply for openings, your resume may just require a few quick tweaks, rather than a complete - and stressful - overhaul that leaves you scrambling for information.
About the Author: Laura Morrison is the Web Content Manager for GradSchools.com. She earned an MBA from the Rutgers School of Business in 2010.