Category Archives: Resumes

Think you haven’t achieved anything? 62 real-life achievement statements for undergraduate resumes


Remember how I gave you a checklist of ways to job search over winter break without networking? (If not, read it here.) Step one is to add this semester’s classes and accomplishments to your resume. Does that stop you cold, thinking, “I’ve done stuff, but it was all for clubs and class… what do I do?”

Never fear! I’ve collected 62 inspiring real-life accomplishments, all from the in-class or on-campus experience of undergrads like you.

Did you do marketing for an organization, volunteer in a school or write a research paper? If the answer is yes (and I bet it is), the examples below will show you how to help an employer see value in your experience, even if was unpaid.

And if you’re wondering why I led with student publications, it’s because I was president and creative director of a monthly mag at UNC-Chapel Hill. And yes, that experience is still on my resume AND employers always ask about it! So stop worrying that classwork and extracurriculars don’t count; they do.

Student Publications

  1. Increased recognition of tri-weekly newspaper and helped qualify the 2007-2008 version as a Pacemaker Finalist
  2. Assigned and copyedited articles for daily publication; pitched story ideas and managed over 50 writers.
  3. Redesigned the magazine for the first time in three years while delegating assignments to 10 designers and editing their layouts each month
  4. Advised photographers working on photo stories and essays from conception to publication
  5. Create blog posts on more time-sensitive issues, like product recommendations for an unexpectedly cold week
  6. Oversaw a desk of 30 writers for daily university newspaper with a readership of 38,000
  7. Hired new photographers and supervised 60-person photo staff
  8. Assisted with planning story topics, such as alumni profiles and campus events, for a monthly magazine with a distribution of approximately 5,000

Greek Life

  1. Enforce and uphold chapter bylaws through clear communication of standards, increasing member participation by 40%
  2. Launched, wrote and distributed weekly Greek Newsletter to more than 2,500 Greek members, advisors and commissioners
  3. Designed and presented Greek End of the Year Report to members, advisors, commissioners and University officials
  4. Organize five to seven social events a week to facilitate bonding for 140+ brothers
  5. Educated and served as mentor for 45 new ADPI members

School Volunteer / Tutor

  1. Worked with three at-risk third graders twice a week to improve math and reading skills
  2. Improved reading skills of kindergartners and first graders by animatedly reading books aloud and actively encouraging their participation in the process
  3. Committed 3 hours weekly for tutoring and mentoring students in 9-12th grade during after school hours.
  4. Instructed 24 second-grade students in an urban school district with multiple learning styles
  5. Disciplined and mentored an eight year old girl twice a week for 4 hours each day
  6. Tutored and encouraged low-income middle school students in various courses
  7. Provided a safe and motivating after school environment for 10 to 12 kids
  8. Function as a student assistant in a kindergarten classroom while collaborating intently with the teacher and sometimes parents to develop the students’ reading, writing, and mathematical comprehension skills.

Student Government

  1. Lead the Student Government Association with the Executive Board; personally revised constitution, formed attendance policy, and oversaw duties of senators and cabinet/ staff members.
  2. Managed the annual programming budget of the campus using excel; amount roughly $125,000
  3. Evaluated project proposals including the implementation of food waste composting, solar water heating for the sports and fitness facilities, and the conversion of 20% of the college’s grounds to native prairie grass.
  4. Worked with 30 students to accelerate support and spirit of XXX athletics

Admissions Ambassador

  1. I am one of an inaugural four-person team hired to initiate projects with goals of increasing admitted student yield rate, information publicity to transfer students, number of campus visits, and more.
  2. Applied for and was selected out of 150 Albright students to represent the student body as an Admissions Ambassador

Resident Advisor

  1. Helped organize annual Housing Fair & increased attendance from the prior, record-breaking year through a strategic marketing plan and personal advocacy.
  2. Develop relationships with 40 residents to meet their academic, emotional, and social needs
  3. Manage 200 residents and quickly address concerns such as room conflicts, school policy violations, and class scheduling issues.
  4. Present 12 programs per semester for the residence halls, including social programs, diversity programs, community partnership programs, academic environment programs, and individual development programs.


  1. Worked on a microfinance project with students from the University of Liberia by compiling a 20-page research report with information focused on successes/failures of microfinance practices in Haiti
  2. Collaborated with a team of five students to conduct original research and create a comprehensive media relations plan based on an expert positioning strategy. The team presented the plan to a panel of executives and students.

Student Organization Leadership

  1. Acquired Registered Student Organization recognition by University
  2. Attained 501(c)(3) status and sponsorship with Princeton Review
  3. Elected by 90 dues-paying member peers to lead student-run PR firm for the 2011-12 school year
  4. Oversee a student club that serves as an “umbrella” organization of all multicultural student clubs on campus and maintain a membership roster of 100 members or more
  5. Secured two new chapter professional advisors and utilized all professional advisors by setting up a mentorship program between advisors and executive board members
  6. Co-founded student group, which strives to raise awareness of the inherent inequality in the current educational system and to correct this inequality through the creation of opportunities currently unavailable to disadvantaged high school students.
  7. Managed a 501(c)3 non-profit, an 80-person staff and an $18,000 budget
  8. Assembled a team of 30 to fill positions in finance, public and internal relations, and development

Student Organization Membership Acquisition

  1. Increased membership by more than 500 percent during two semesters
  2. Secured a 20 percent increase in firm membership, with more than 200 members, for 2011-2012 school year
  3. Spearheaded the PRSSA Student-run Firm National Affiliation application and received accreditation in February 2011
  4. Recruited over 100 members to participate and contribute to the sustainability of the group
  5. Produced the chapter’s quarterly newsletter by recruiting writers, editors and photographers, generating and assigning story ideas, designing the layout and distributing it to chapter members, journalism students and professionals

 Student Organization Marketing / Event Planning

  1. Created and organized a petition to have gluten-free foods available on campus
  2. Produced and edited articles for chapter’s newsletter and blog, sent to all PRSSA students and faculty in 2008-2010
  3. Designed promotional tools, such as fliers and t-shirts, for the 2009 male beauty pageant Mr. Ohio University
  4. Coordinated all marketing and communications efforts for one of the largest homecoming celebrations in the nation.
  5. Planned several events to raise funds and create buzz about Penn State Homecoming. Events included a 5k and Homecoming Night with the local minor league baseball team.
  6. Worked closely with and acquired sponsorship from XXX Gluten-Free Foods
  7. Secured a 78 percent increase in client base compared to previous year and a 50 percent increase in firm membership for 2010-2011 school year as vice president of administration
  8. Organize campus events including information sessions and food sampling
  9. Scheduled over 35 diverse visiting professionals to speak at fall, winter and spring quarter meetings
  10. Manage 45 on campus events, including Springfest, the annual week-long homecoming in the spring semester, which includes co-sponsoring with 10-15 other clubs and organizations, three events daily, 15 events in the week, culminating in the campus-wide comedian show with attendance of up to 2,500.

 Student Organization Fundraising

  1. Collaborated with volunteers and Executive Director to increase fundraising from $3,000 in 2006 to over $50,000 in 2008
  2. Implemented more than 10 fundraising projects as member of the chapter’s finance committee in 2009

Honors and Awards

  1. Selected for academic and professional performance to represent the School of Journalism at various times and for various functions throughout the academic year
  2. Earned Outstanding Freshman & Sophomore awards in ’08-’09 & ’09-’10 school years for involvement in the chapter
  3. Selected as one of 10 students to write and perform a play about diversity to the incoming freshman class
  4. Served on the highly selective Residential Life staff
  5. Elected by peers to be the PR manager for the Sailing Team

Lessons from TV: Showing versus telling on America’s Next Top Model

If you didn’t see it, Angelea almost went home last night on America’s Next Top Model. (Right, like you don’t have any guilty TV pleasures.)

She didn’t take a bad picture or even write a terrible song (the models were singer/songwriters last night). She almost went home because she was telling one thing but showing another. (To get all technical, her brand wasn’t aligned.)

Watch her video. She’s singing about being a tough girl who gets up when she’s been kicked down. The words are feisty, punky, even a little angry. Despite Angelea’s best attempts at fist pumping and head swinging, the judges said things like:

  • “It never registered”
  • “It was a little flat”
  • “You were blank”
  • “You need to sell everything”
Tyra even showed her that she needed to get her angry-pretty face on and really put some force in her air punches. Basically, she needed to align her words with her actions. She needed to SHOW and tell.


Apply it to your job search

Let’s clear up one thing first — I am NOT advising you to begin forcefully air punching during interviews. With that out of the way, how can you avoid falling flat like Angelea?

Angelea was trying to convince the judges that she was tough and feisty. You, on the other hand, are trying to convince an employer that you’re the best person for the job. To break it down, you need the employer to know that 1) you have the skills and 2) you have the passion.

SHOW you have the skills

1. In your resume. That little skills section isn’t enough. You need to show how you’ve used those skills. That’s why your experience descriptions should contain lots of accomplishments.

2. In the interview. If you find yourself speaking in generalizations like, “I really enjoy working with people,” you need to get acquainted with the Situation-Action-Response interviewing strategy. It forces you to turn your experience into illustrative stories.

3. In a portfolio? Nope, they’re not just for artists. Even if you’ve revamped your resume, a portfolio can help employers see the accomplishments you’ve mentioned. For example, if you talk about writing a 20-page research paper, put it in a portfolio.

SHOW you have the passion

Remember how the judges called Angelea ‘blank’? That’s the absence of passion. Other synonyms are blah, boring and safe.

Here’s the thing — sometimes, when you’re trying really hard to be professional, you can come across as blank. This is especially true for new job seekers. You’re worrying about being labeled immature or unprofessional, so you stick with uber-formal language or play it very tight laced in interviews.

Being excited doesn’t make you unprofessional, and employers want to know that their job and company make you light up. Don’t believe me? Take a look at this cover letter written by a hiring manager sick of receiving the same “professional” sounding letter.

It’s a tough line to walk, but let your excitement and passion come through in your cover letter and interview. Smile. Smize, even.

From a grad that’s been there and landed a job: Learning and Organizing

A guest post by UNC senior Courtney Miller. (Thanks for all the wonderful posts, Courtney!)

It’s been a pleasure guest posting on Kelly’s blog (thanks, Kelly!) and I hope I’ve covered helpful tips that you can apply to your job search! Now it’s time for a few final words on how to learn from the job hunting experience and how to stay organized.

On learning:

  • Interviewing. It’s unlikely that your first few interviews out of college will be your best. After an interview, take the time to write down what was said. Take special note of what you did well and what you could have phrased better. Write down the questions that took you by surprise because you never know when you might hear them again. Go over your questions and answers with someone who can give good feedback – a seasoned friend, ex-boss, professor, career counselor, or parent for example. Practice the questions you messed up on with a friend or career counselor so you’ll be ready next time.
  • Pick up new skills in the downtime. You might notice you’re finding job descriptions that mostly fit your skills, but ask for a few skills you don’t have, such as HTML, Web 2.0, JavaScript, content management systems, etc. Now is a great time to try to learn these other skills to add to your resume and flexibility. Expanding your skill set will only improve your candidacy.
  • Etiquette. Constantly watch out for the little things that usually go unsaid in phone or in-person interviews. Manners can go a long way. For example, be conscious of what you’re wearing, your body language, and mannerisms. Make sure you practice your handshake, keep your hands on the table and don’t rock back and forth if you have a chair that pivots. You can also test your phone etiquette knowledge with a quiz on QuintCareers.

On Organization:

  • Spreadsheets. An organized spreadsheet will help you stay on top of deadlines and keep records. Create an excel spreadsheet to track the jobs. Make columns for: company/organization, job title, location of the job, the URL of the post, username, password, date the job was posted, due date, application status, date you turned in your application,  contact person (and the person’s contact info), whether you followed-up or not (and dates), whether you heard from them (and dates), and if you have an interview scheduled.
  • E-mail organization. Every e-mail server is different, but it’s important to come up with an organization system to keep track of correspondence. Create a folder for job search agents, application e-mails, interview correspondence, application confirmations, and networking correspondence. Star or highlight the ones you have not responded to or the ones that contain important information. When you’re applying to ten jobs a day, your inbox can get a little crowded and you need to remember not to overlook or forget to send important e-mails.
  • Computer Files. Create a system for organizing your computer files. Keep all job hunt materials in one folder, “Job Hunt 2009.” Place your most important and used documents in this folder, such as your resume, general cover letter, job search Excel database and reference list for easy access. Create sub folders under this folder for each month and then sub folders for each organization. Save all cover letters, thank you notes, interview questions, and interview notes under the organization’s folder. Keep a separate folder for networking and save important things you learned from each contact and the contact’s information.
  • Paper files. Buy a tabbed accordion folder to keep paper files. Create a tab for each organization you actually interview and keep interview notes, directions or handouts in the section. Also create a tab for useful resources you printed or received and anything else related to your job search that is in hard copy.

From a grad that’s been there: Top 5 services that UCS has to offer

A guest post by UNC-Chapel Hill graduate Courtney Miller.

Editor’s Note: This post is particularly relevant to UNC graduates and students. For those of you not familiar with UNC’s campus, UCS stands for University Career Services.

The UNC University Career Services Web site is a great tool to get your job search going. It has tons of resources that you might not have access to elsewhere. It is free for the first six months after graduation, so use it now! After that six-month period, you must pay $65 each year to access Career Services as a alum. I’m listing a few of the resources that I found helpful from UCS and how I used them.

  1. Job Postings. When you log in to UCS, click the “search jobs and internships” tab. Opportunities are posted daily, and some are exclusive to UNC students. Many allow you to apply through UCS by simply clicking a button that submits your resume directly to the employer. Some employers listed allow you to sign-up for on-campus interviews through UCS as well. One great feature is that the posting lists the contact information of actual people, allowing you to start an open and friendly dialogue with the hiring managers, which can increase your chances of landing a job.
  2. Counselor Advice. Aside from reviewing resumes, the counselors can provide advice on applying for jobs, networking, cover letters, proper job hunt protocol and etiquette, and long-term career planning. The career counselors I spoke with were readily available and gave helpful advice in career searching. They spent a great deal of time on the phone with me listening and offering advice specific to my situation and goals (Thanks to UNC Career Counselors Jay Eubank and Laura Lane!).
  3. Resume Building. Your resume is the most important marking piece you can use to further your career search. UCS provides access to Optimal Resume, a resume-building tool that will you create and format an effective resume. Once you create it, you can also publish an online version to show employers. Once you create your resume, schedule an appointment with a UNC career counselor for advice and tips on perfecting the tool. You can submit the resume online through University Career Services by logging in and clicking on the tab that says “resumes and cover letters.” A career counselor will review your resume and give you comments once you upload the document, but I would recommend going beyond that and scheduling an appointment to talk one-on-one.
  4. Research. Before you interview with an organization, do your homework. You can access WetFeet and Vault employer and industry information. These databases give you a company profile and have message boards available that list insider information – both can be useful for your interview. The link also includes access to salary information, a career networking mentor database (see earlier post on networking). E-leads is another resource that provides a database of jobs that companies generally or potentially have open for new grads as part of the an ongoing hiring process.
  5. Interview Skills. No matter how great you look on paper, your interview skills are crucial to landing a job. You can do mock interviews with UCS counselors to prepare for the real thing. UCS also allows you to do interviews via videostream and e-mail the interview to a counselor for review. Interview workshops also are offered on-site at UCS.

Now that I’ve described the basic features on UCS that will help you maximize the results of your career search, take a look for yourself. Also check out the other services that UCS offers, including events, career fairs, and a reference filing service.

From a grad that’s been there and gotten a job: Advice on presenting career materials

First, I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Courtney Miller, and I am a recent UNC-CH grad. I graduated a semester early (in December ’08) to save tuition money and get a jump on finding a full-time job ahead of May grads. I expected to find a job in public relations within a month or two, but the job hunt proved much more difficult than I expected. After six months of learning, constantly sharpening my skills, networking, tweaking my resume and promotional materials, and solidifying my goals, I finally landed a solid gig near my hometown of Fredericksburg, Va. But more importantly, I learned some very necessary life skills that they don’t teach you in college, and it’s my pleasure to share my experience and what I’ve learned with you over Kelly’s blog every Monday, in a five-week series.

Presentation Advice

Many grads don’t think about the overall presentation of their job-search materials (resume, cover letter, portfolio, etc.), but it’s crucial because it directly affects the first impression employers have of you. Think about it: if the person on the other end of the computer only spends 10 to 30 seconds looking at your materials, you want to make sure that your presentation is every bit as effective as your content. In addition, consistent presentation is good personal branding.

Aside from the basic and most obvious things to consider (spelling, style, grammar, unclear/inconsistent message and congestion), here are few tips and tricks I learned about presentation.

E-mail PDF versions of your materials. I always convert my materials into PDFs using the Neevia PDF Converter tool. PDFs can’t contain viruses like Word documents (which is why some offices will only accept PDFs), and they preserve the carefully crafted formatting of your materials.

For example, I use the Calibri typeface for my resume, but earlier versions of Word don’t have Calibri. If my resume is opened in an earlier version of Word, the entire format (including spacing, length, bullets, indentions, etc.) is thrown off because the program uses a substitute font. When I use a PDF document, though, whoever opens my resume will see it exactly as I intended. In addition, it is smart to have a scanned PDF version of your most recent transcripts. (

Remember font and design consistency. Use the same typefaces for your resume, cover letters, and supporting documents. It makes your work look more professional, and consistency helps your personal branding efforts.

For a classic, professional look, Times New Roman could be a good option, but some criticize its letterspacing issues and clichéd usage. Other serif options include Garamond, Georgia, and Palatino Linotype. I’ve also seen Century Old Style recommended for business positions.

For a more contemporary resume, consider professional sans serif typefaces, like Helvetica, Ariel, Geneva and Tahoma. That means NO PAPYRUS OR COMIC SANS MS – the only places for these typefaces are elementary school classrooms and comic books.

Don’t set your point size smaller than 9 for sans serif and 10 for serif typefaces.

Frequently Update. Always keep your materials updated and ready to go. You never know when someone will call you wanting you to send over your resume and writing samples immediately.

Make writing sample summaries.
On each writing sample I send out, I include a short description of the piece. The description includes what organization I wrote the piece for, the intended audience, where the piece was published, the purpose of the piece, and how many readers it reached. If you won an award for a writing piece, also include which one and how many people you competed against to win.

(Kelly’s note: The same advice goes for anything you include in a portfolio. It doesn’t matter if it was a design for a physics class, or a feature article for the Daily Tar Heel, give some context and explain why the piece has value.)

Use a job-hunt buddy. Buddy up with another job-searching friend. If possible, pick a friend that has different strengths and perspectives than you. Let your friend proofread every communication piece you write – resumes, cover letters, thank you e-mails, and writing samples. Proof all of her communications too. Help each other by making constructive criticism and sharing articles, job postings and resources. You can also try the 20-Second Resume Test with your buddy to gain constructive feedback.

Turn classes & projects into resume items

Before you burn that sociology notebook or forget about the 45 hours you spent on a class project, add it to your resume!

Not sure how? Check out these entries (called “resume phrases” in the label cloud) from SweetCareers, a blog written by Grace Kutney at Lawrence University’s Career Center. She gives samples of how you can turn classwork, projects, presentations and other campus involvement into valuable resume items.

The sample phrases are divided by type of involvement (like Greek life and working at the library) and major. Yes, there is even an entry called “Resume phrases for physics majors,” but you’ll also find history, sociology, art, marketing and PR examples (and more). She even includes sample verbiage that you can use.

Here are some examples:

  • Compared and contrasted _________ with _________ resulting in 8-page paper and 10 minute class presentation.
  • Utilized Lexis-Nexus, EBSCO Host, Jstor and other electronic databases.
  • Examined fundamental properties of crystalline solids from experimental perspective. (For the physics majors.)
  • Familiar with various techniques, including lithography, print making, digital imaging and sculpture.

The lesson learned? Almost anything you’ve done can be included on your resume. That’s an especially salient idea for people who may not have been able to complete loads of internships or take summer/part-time work in your field of interest.

A word of caution though: If you have worked in your field — through an internship or an actual job — that work experience will probably be more important and impressive to employers than anything you’ve done in class. So if you’re running out of space, classwork should be taken off first. (Actually, anything that isn’t relevant to the position you’re applying for should be taken off first!)

Friday article round-up

Twitter was a treasure trove of links to helpful career-search articles this week. Let me share a few of the best with you (in no particular order — they’re all great). The writers of these articles are also my #followfriday picks.