OPINION: Why universities should be teaching students how to write resumes

Photo courtesy of Joao Ferrao

When applying for a job, internship or even college admission, an important step in the process is to create and submit a resume. Resumes are one of the first things a possible employer will look at, and it is crucial that people are able to sell themselves in what is sometimes only a page-worth of information. 

The average time spent reading a resume by employers and overseeing management  was six to seven seconds in 2022. This means that how a resume looks upon first glance is crucial to its success. 

Most people are aware of what a resume is and what they might need the document for, but many have never been taught how to properly write one and may struggle to create a resume that looks professional.

Some are also unaware of the difference between a resume and curriculum vitae (CV) or how to write a cover letter and what each of these requires. 

A CV shows a full history of your academic credentials and can be much longer in contrast to a resume, which usually only presents a summary of your skills and qualifications for a specific position. CVs are often used in academic jobs and submissions while resumes can be used in all industries.

Students often aren’t taught about the factors that govern the application process, like how resumes must be personalized for every specific job and tailored to meet the soft skills necessary since Applicant Tracking Software, or the robots that filter through resumes, eliminate 75% of applicants.

There are many small things that greatly affect how a resume or cover letter will perform. An article from TeamStage states that, “According to CV statistics, 76% of CVs are ignored if candidates have an unprofessional email address.” Additionally, those who include a photo on their resume have a 88% rejection rate.

[A completed resume sits on a laptop.]
Photo courtesy of Joao Ferrao

Boise State University’s website offers resources on how to write resumes which includes virtual workshops for resume strategies and cover letters, a quick video on how to target your resume and a full resume guide with everything someone would need to write a complete resume. 

These resources are incredibly helpful and in depth, but for someone to access this information, they would need to be looking for it specifically. Though this information isn’t hard to access, students may forget that the university website is a resource.

There is an upper-level Honors class offered (Honors 390) that assists juniors and seniors in developing their writing and speaking skills for graduate school or future careers. This can be taken as a one-weekend workshop or seven-week online course but is only offered for Honors College students. 

The resume and cover letter writing information offered to students is very helpful, but it isn’t advertised well. Boise State University could be pushing for more promotion and make an effort to offer these resources to students directly, perhaps in the form of an email, to urge students to interact with the material. 

In my opinion, resume curriculum should be introduced to young adults while still in high school so that they have a base to add to as they accumulate experience. Many students work during high school and need multiple jobs to pay their way through college. Among these graduating high school students, some need this information to submit to colleges and scholarships.

However, this information is sometimes not taught at all, and I believe it would be beneficial to introduce students to the process of writing a resume and cover letter in their first year upon entering college.

I have been working and cultivating a resume since I was 16, with the help of my mom. Some students have the option not to work until they graduate, and other students may not have parental figures that can assist in helping their student create an organized resume.

This instruction could be done by adding it to the curriculum of the English 101 or 102 courses, COMM101 or another entry level required course. This way, the information is sure to be taught to students and make them aware of what is expected of them in the workforce.

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