How can I improve my Resume and Job Search?

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Jason from DeVry University asked:

“I am not having much luck on my job search and know that my resume is lacking in telling my entire story. How can I put my best foot forward and improve my search?”

Thank you for your question! As we approach the job search, it is important to remember what we can control – the time we spend applying to jobs, the companies we target, building a network, and our brand. As you take steps to re-strategize, I have provided several tips to help you in your search:

Assess your Narrative

Before you begin developing your resume and applying to jobs, I recommend taking a step back and understand your story. Whether you are entering a new field or in a career transition, ask yourself:

  • What are my proudest accomplishments I have achieved in my education and/or career (i.e. did you balance working full-time while being a full-time student or supervise staff at work)?
  • What are my transferrable skills that I can bring to the organization?
  • Has there been a common theme that has showed up in my career that I enjoy performing (i.e. analyzing and interpreting data or executing new programming)?
  • What makes me unique (have you acquired a certification or fluent in another language)?

As you answer these questions, this will give you clearer insight on your brand. This exercise will help you formulate a 1 or 2 sentence narrative that will become your story. Once it’s finalized, it should be infused in all areas- when you deliver your 30 second elevator pitch, professional documents, during the interview and on your LinkedIn profile. If you need further assistance developing your narrative, I recommend reviewing this guide.

The Attention-Grabbing Resume

You have 6-10 seconds to capture the recruiter’s attention with your resume. The top third of your resume is where our eyes focus on first and prime real estate on the document. After your name and contact information, I recommend placing a Summary of Qualifications section in this area. The section includes 4-5 bullet points that provides a summary of your skills, experiences and accomplishments. This article will provide you with additional information on developing your statements.

In addition, whether you are entering a new field or changing careers, I recommend including your relevant courses and class projects on your resume. Adding the additional information will help reinforce your brand and give the employer insight on the knowledge you have in the field.

Tell your story with a Cover Letter

If you still feel your resume doesn’t tell your whole story, the cover letter gives you chance to communicate your accomplishments as it relates to the position, interest in the organization, and if you are changing careers, share why you are passionate about the field. You can learn more about writing a cover letter here.

Conduct Informational Interviews

If you recognize your professional documents are a barrier to landing an interview, I recommend spending time cultivating relationships with professionals in your field. Informational Interviews are a stress-free way to learn more about a company, network, hear advice from professionals and more. Since you are a student at DeVry, I encourage you to contact alumni on LinkedIn to request an informational interview.  As you conduct these conversations, you can ask specific questions about the skills and experiences the organization is seeking and what advice the professional can offer you as you navigate the job search. To learn more about Informational Interviews, click here.

I wish you the best on your search and if you need additional assistance, please schedule an appointment with a Career Advising at DeVry University’s Career Services.

Best of Luck,



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About the Author

Jessica Johnson

Jessica Johnson is currently a Recruitment & Onboarding Specialist at a national nonprofit based in Baltimore, MD. Previously, she spent over 7 years providing career coaching to undergraduate, graduate and professional students, developing employer relationships and planning recruitment events at universities throughout Maryland and DC. Jessica is a Certified Professional Career Coach, Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach, certified administrator of the Strong Interest Inventory and has earned the Career Development Facilitator certificate.

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