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6 Tips to Take Your Resume from Good to Great

by South University
April 13, 2018

Landing your dream job can be a challenge, especially in fields with a competitive job market. To have a chance at a phone call – never mind an-person interview – your resume must grab your potential employer’s attention and then keep them focused on you!

1. Quantify your contributions. Don’t just list the tasks you do. Instead, use numbers to show the volume and impact of your work. If possible, explain how your actions benefited or improved your team or the company as whole.

2. Tailor your resume for each specific job. For each job you apply to, think about what skills, qualifications and experience you should highlight on your resume. If it’s applicable, include how your current role is similar to the job for which you are currently applying (but don't exaggerate!). For example, if you're applying to be a manager, list your previous or current management responsibilities and project leadership experiences.

3. Include your hobbies, freelance or volunteer work when it’s relevant. If you're applying for a position as a computer programmer and your hobby is developing mobile apps or helping with a non-profit’s website as a volunteer, include those items on your resume. Hobbies and additional work can show that you are passionate about a subject or that you have taken the initiative to develop a skill outside of your current position. If you don’t have room on your resume, you can mention them in your cover letter instead.

4. Create a resume that's easy to skim. Format your resume with bold headings and bullet points and start each section with the most impressive skill or job responsibility. Unless you have over 5 years of experience, keep your resume to one page. Even if your resume is two pages, the most important information should still appear on the first page. Remember, hiring managers may see tons of resumes, so yours could have only a few seconds to grab their attention.

5. Clean up and unclutter your layout. Leave white space around the edges and delete unnecessary items like supervisor contact information or "References available upon request." (If they want references, they'll ask!) Use tables to ensure each column is perfectly lined up.

6. Leave a professional impression. Use bright white paper or professional letterhead, make sure the ink in your printer is dark, and select an easy-to-read font such as Times New Roman or Arial in 10- to 12-point size. And of course, proofread and then proofread again. You want to captivate the employer with your impressive qualifications, not an offbeat font choice or multiple spelling errors!

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Note: This blog was originally published August 15, 2013 and updated April 13, 2018.

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Your Resume in Today's Job Market

by South University
April 13, 2018
A photo of a resume and cv.

It seems like there are always new rules for resumes out there, and it can be tricky to ascertain if yours will meet expectation. FORTUNE provides words of wisdom to help keep you relevant. Among their tips are the following:

Tip 1: Pay Attention to Format

With recruiters receiving so many resumes each day, it is important that your resume stands out. One of the best ways to stand out, according to FORTUNE, is to spice up your resume with a design that catches the reader’s attention. Balance your resume’s design with a smooth, clear look and add a pop of color and sleek font to give your resume a tightened-up presentation.

Tip 2: Make the Top Count

Career Coach Jennifer Braganza says that the top one-third of your resume is what the recruiter scans to determine if they will read the rest of your resume. With this in mind, you should make sure the top of your resume grabs attention and points the reader to important information such as work samples or a personal website.

Tip 3: Show Key Work Metrics

When crafting your work experience section, don’t just list titles and dates. FORTUNE recommends using the few lines that you have to weave a story for the recruiters. Use bullet points to back your claims with relevant facts and figures and highlights instances where you did work above and beyond what was expected of you.

New source: http://fortune.com/2017/04/19/resume-job-search-tips/

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Note: This blog was originally published July 21, 2011 and updated April 13, 2018.

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Your Resume Matters

by South University
April 13, 2018

MariKathryn E. Arnold
Career Services Advisor

Why Your Resume Matters

In January 2018, Forbes reported that on average, recruiters spend six seconds scanning a resume to determine if they want to consider the applicant. With such a short amount of time spent determining an applicant’s fate, it is important to understand how to make your resume stand out:

Write for your audience

Understanding what recruiters are looking for before sending out your resume is a key aspect to grab a recruiter’s attention. In the first 6 seconds, recruiters want to know if you are a prime candidate for their open position. Therefore, your first question is, how do you make the recruiter continue to read your resume? Your relevant experience and education should be at the top of the page. Your current position should show your experience level. When did you start and how long have you been there? What are your accomplishments? They’ll scan your previous positions, so try to make them as relevant as possible and avoid big gaps of time in-between. A resume that demonstrates to the recruiter that you are relevant, loyal and consistent, will tend to be the one that lands you an interview.

You are your resume

First impressions are important, and you only get one! It’s important to take the extra time to make sure that it is consistent and error-free. A resume with misspelled words, grammatical errors and inconsistencies won’t get to make a second impression. The devil is in the details, so pay attention to them. Show that you want to impress your recruiter. A strong resume is consistent with formatting and content. It reiterates your strengths and skills. It reinforces your experience and education.

It’s about what you’ve accomplished

It’s time to show off, but how? Include achievements that are measurable. How many reports did you create a month? What was the percentage increase in sales due to your contributions? Employers like numbers, so if you’ve got them flaunt them. A recruiter predicts your job duties based off of your position title. Show them how you contributed to your last company with data instead of only listing your duties. Show off and you’ll stick out as a memorable, qualified candidate.

Your resume is your first impression; your first interview. It will open or close the door to your prospective job. Your resume matters and it’s vital that it illustrates your best self.

Note: This blog was originally published September 3, 2015 and updated April 13, 2018.

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Faculty Tips for Reducing Stress as a Student

by South University
April 11, 2018

Often, we think of individual events or issues as the cause of our stress. The stress of completing our coursework, paying a bill, or a problem at work is seen as unique. In reality, stress can be cumulative, crossing over from your job to your personal life and even to your classes. In this blog, we'll look closely at cumulative stress and explore several techniques you can use for managing stress.

What is Cumulative Stress?

Stress is the body's response to any demand made on it, and light stress—when you believe that you can cope with the demands you currently face—can actually be motivating and energizing.

However, as various causes of stress start adding up, the total cumulative stress you feel increases. Such causes might include:

  • Deadlines and commitments (like assignment due dates)
  • Financial problems
  • Relationship troubles
  • Health problems
  • Work problems

So, what happens when cumulative stress is left unchecked and the stressors in your life remain? While we may hope to let stress roll off our backs, it's more likely you're piling on the stress and carrying it everywhere you go. Over time, cumulative stress can lead to health and psychological problems such as:

  • Headaches
  • Indigestion/nausea
  • Sleep problems
  • Irritability
  • Poor judgement and memory problems
  • Nervousness/anxiousness
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle tension
  • Loss of self-confidence or self-esteem

Tips for Managing Stress

Now for the good news: stress can be managed. Beginning right now, here's what you can do to significantly reduce your cumulative stress.

  1. Be healthy: Start by looking at your daily life. Track how much physical activity you get, what you eat, and how much you drink alcohol or smoke. Most of us speed through the day so fast that we don’t realize what our day actually includes. After taking a good look at ourselves, we can see how to become healthier. It could be as simple as eating more vegetables or a bowl of oatmeal in the morning. Even a daily walk will help.
  2. Have fun: Laughing is good for you, so find time to have fun and to laugh. It's also important to stay positive. Finding the good in the world, even when faced with significant challenges, will lead to reduced stress.
  3. Relax: To relax and reset, you need to take breaks, not just from work but also in your personal life and your school work. We don’t mean a 6-month vacation, just a few breaks during the day, where you leave behind life's problems for a time, possibly by doing one of the following:
    • Read a book (other than your text). There is nothing like diving into a good mystery, fantasy, or romance novel—or even your favorite magazine—to separate you from daily stress.
    • Play a game. (Remember, there is a difference between taking a break and procrastinating, so don’t use your breaks as a way to delay work.)
    • Exercise. Take a short walk, stretch, or do light aerobic exercises to revitalize your body. During the exercise, let your mind think about things other than what is causing your stress.
  4. Use your time wisely. Everyone talks about time management as if it's some complicated process that only high-priced consultants can figure out. That's simply not true. Start by keeping a journal for a few days on what you do throughout the day. You’ll be amazed how much time is spent on things like looking for clothes in the morning, finding the kids' library book, or playing your favorite video game.

    From there, find ways to streamline or cut back on things that take too much time. An hourly schedule might not be needed, but a calendar of daily chores or appointments could likely help you organize your time at home and work. Within your schedule, prioritize your coursework by putting aside time, not just for the assignments, but also to study and complete your readings.

The More You Know...

Improving your ability to deal with stress and knowing that stress be carried from one environment to another (i.e. job to home) may have a long-term impact on improving your resilience and your health. If, before or after trying these tips, you'd like to talk with someone about your stress, contact your Academic Counselor or Student Affairs to ask about the resources available through the South University Counseling Center.

About the Author

Mark Fabbri Ph.D. is the Chair for Psychology Online at South University. Dr. Fabbri has been teaching for South University since 2006 and lives in Michigan.

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Going Back to School as an Adult - Overcoming Your Fears

by South University
April 9, 2018

Earning a degree is no doubt different for adult learners than for those fresh out of high school, but being an adult learner has it positives. At a younger age, maybe you were less confident about what you wanted or had to delay degree completion for personal reasons. Now, you’re at a different time in your life with more defined career goals, life skills and experience—all things that will come in handy in as you pursue an undergraduate or graduate degree.

If you are looking start or finish your degree but have fears about going back to school, know that it is possible to achieve your academic goals. Below, we compare four common concerns of potential students to the realities of going back to school as an adult learner.

Myth #1: You Don’t Have Room in Your Schedule

Balancing a job, family, friends, and school won't be easy, but many before you have a found a way. With the right amount of planning, you can too. When talking with school representatives, ask how many hours you can expect to spend in class and doing class work. Then, create a plan for how to divide your time each day. Simply knowing you have a plan can go a long way.

Beyond this plan, you'll need support from those around you. Before you start classes, let your family know that they'll have to pitch in a little more while you’re in school. Then, talk with your friends about why you’re continuing your education and how much this means to you, so that they can offer emotional support and will understand if you miss the occasional get-together.

If earning your undergraduate or graduate degree could enhance your current career, share your plans with your boss. Hopefully, they’ll offer encouragement and maybe flexibility in your work schedule. (Plus, there's always the possibility of tuition assistance.) During classes, one way to save time is by relating your schoolwork to your job where possible. For example, for a class assignment, you might choose to create a business proposal that could be reused for your job.

Myth #2: You've Been Out of School Too Long

In reality, your life and work experience will likely benefit you as a student. Instructors appreciate adult learners who ask informed questions and bring real-world examples to class discussions. Besides that, if you've participated in continuing education courses, learned new software, or had to prepare for presentations at work, then you’ve already been using many of the same skills you’ll need in school.

Today, nontraditional students are becoming the norm and schools often design undergraduate and graduate degree programs with adult learners in mind. As you research schools, ask how many adult learners are currently enrolled. See if they offer an orientation class to ease you into the swing of things or provide support staff who will be readily available to answer your questions. Once you’re in school, get to know other adult learners; you can swap study and scheduling tips, and make valuable contacts for after you graduate.

Myth #3: You’re Not Skilled Enough with Computers or New Technology

Orientation classes can help you get up to speed on the software you’ll need, and schools commonly offer software tutorials, tutoring, and webinars for those who want extra training. Even in online programs, these days, online classrooms are designed with ease of use as a key goal for everyone, regardless of technological expertise. So many careers require computer skills today anyway, so, while it might sound stressful, brushing up on your tech knowledge will be good for you.

Myth #4: You Won’t be Able to Manage the Cost of Your Education

An important aspect of returning to school is knowing what return on investment to expect from your program. Tools like the government’s Occupational Outlook Handbook can offer helpful details about the value of education in specific fields. Beyond this, try finding programmatic alumni stories and talking to your manager and others in the field to understand how a degree might help you.

If you’re worried about the cost of degree completion, make sure you explore all options—including federal financial aid, employer tuition assistance, military benefits, and scholarships from private and public organizations. By transferring credit from past college experience, you may be able to save time and money. As you narrow in on your top schools, take the time to talk to their finance counselors about transferring credit and other options for making a degree program more affordable.

Moving Forward with Confidence

Remember, age can play in your favor when going back to school. Life and work experience often teach lessons and skills that young students rarely possess, things like time management and not being afraid to seek help when it’s needed. As an adult, you’re likely more organized, responsible, and motivated to get your degree.

Along with offering a full array of academic resources and dedicated support staff for every student, South University's campus and online programs are designed to accommodate the schedules of busy, working adults. To learn more about how we support adult learners across all undergraduate and graduate degree programs, contact us today.

Note: This blog was originally published October 6, 2016 and updated April 9, 2018.

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