Tips to stand out in tough economic times, job market

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    Graduating seniors hoping to get a job after receiving a diploma face the toughest market in decades, according to the Department of Labor. About 663,000 jobs were terminated and 3.3 million jobs were lost in the last five months. With companies hiring less and less, the resume now becomes more important than ever. Here are some tips for students to make sure their resume stands out to employers.

    Don’t forget a cover letter

    A cover letter for a resume tells the employer why the applicant is interested in the job and gives the employer an overall preview of what the prospective employee has to offer.

    John Thompson, executive director of TCU Career Services, said students often don’t realize the importance of a cover letter and sometimes forget to include it with their resume.

    “You’ve got to put your best foot forward in these things,” Thompson said. “You’re trying to get someone to interview you. If you don’t impress them with a cover letter, they’re probably not going to look at your resume.”

    Thompson said applicants should include why they believe they’re equipped for the job and what kind of contribution they would make to the organization. Finally, applicants should ask when they could meet with the interviewer.

    List accomplishments in previous jobs

    Thompson said the biggest mistake students make when building a resume is listing only responsibilities from previous jobs and not accomplishments.

    “Employers aren’t interested in responsibilities,” Thompson said. “Employers want to know what you’ve done.”

    For instance, Thompson said, if an applicant’s duties included filing paperwork, try to show that they were proficient in that task.

    Matthew Riordan, assistant director for career advisement at Career Services, said applicants need to showcase their skills on a resume.

    “Your skills are what come first, and what you technically did is a support to that skill set,” Riordan said.

    Proofread several times, then proofread again

    Although it seems obvious, going over an application for errors may be the most important thing in showing the employer that the applicant remains committed to every detail, Thompson said.

    Riordan said grammar errors occur when students fail to proofread their resumes.

    “More often, it comes from not sharing your work with someone else – having another set of eyes,” Riordan said. “People are naturally a little apprehensive about that.”

    A grammar error can give the appearance to employers that applicants didn’t take the time to check their work.

    “That’s absolutely the worst possible sin,” Thompson said. “It makes it look like you just don’t care.”