Don’t worry yourself with such nonsense. You weren’t a literature major, you have real skills. You don’t need to know what big words mean, just how to use them.
The art of creating an impressive resume has very little to do with your actual experience or abilities. Which is good news for you, because let’s face it, as a college student you don’t really have much of either.
At best, you are a twenty-something-year-old who still doesn’t know how to do your own taxes or pay your own health insurance. At worst, you are a liberal arts major who doesn’t know what your social security number is used for and still believe you are going to make it as a poet or singer/songwriter.
Lucky for you, resumes are all about presentation and descriptive power. Think of it as an exercise in translation. You are writing a document that translates your college-life stories into adult-speak. The chore is to take all the “stuff” and “things” you’ve done in college and describe them in such a way that people other than your parents will be impressed. The pompous vocabulary you’ve been whirling around your head like some medieval weapon for the past four years will finally serve you well.
Face it, your actual experiences are mostly pathetic and inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. Say, what? You got published by an undergraduate literary arts magazine? And wrote for the student newspaper? Well, excuse me, let me hold the door for you. Grow up.
It is time to learn how to talk about yourself without beginning with the words “dude” or “seriously.” But seriously dude, you have had valuable experiences while in college, you probably just don’t remember them as such.
Remember that time you handed out fliers for your roommates’ girlfriends’ reggae band because you owed him a solid. Good times, right? No. But spin it the right way and the experience will at lease appear valuable. You didn’t hand out ten fliers to strangers outside the bookstore before giving up and putting the rest on a table in a nearby coffee shop. In real life you might describe it to your friends as a wasted afternoon, but on a résumé, you have to crank it up a notch and convince your prospective employers that you did something worthwhile. What you really did was conduct strategic publicity for a budding artist.
Then add that you supervised a multifaceted marketing campaign or interacted with targeted audience members and oversaw public relations. You may have even created and disseminated promotional materials in hard copy and electronic formats. Run with it. You may be more impressive then you ever imagined.
Honestly, it is all about the verbs. Employers love résumés that are dripping with vaguely professional sounding action verbs. You never want to say that you bought something for the company. Instead, say that you managed inventory and procured critical resources. You don’t simply work with others, you administer, delegate, and manage.
At some point in the first four years of your adult life, you must have researched and revised something. Perhaps you prioritized and evaluated. Maybe you even maintained or implemented.
God knows you observed and simplified.
Here are some other skills you might have.
Liquid Nutrient Acquisition: At one point you were the only roommate with a working car, so, you know, beer run.
Monthly Finance Negotiations: Splitting bills with six housemates is a painfully complicated process, and Jeff never paid his bills on time.
Real Time Electronic Auctions: Craigslist ads and garage sales are pertinent to survival.
Artist Promotion: You put stickers for your friend’s website in bathroom stalls all over town.
Essential Resource Procurement: You stole copious amounts of toilet paper from the University Library for your dorm or off-campus apartment.
Delegated Facilities Maintenance: Remember that time you held Jeff’s laptop hostage until he washed his dishes? God, do you hate Jeff.
You know that basket next to the door where you throw all of your housemate’s mail? Didn’t you come up with that? Sounds like you may have developed and supervised the implementation of a new internal mailing system.