Is Your Resume Career Fair Ready? Let’s Find Out

By: Lynn Gibson, Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK) mentor and DePaul University marketing graduate

DePaul’s first major career fair of the season is days away—are you ready? Your time with each recruiter will be limited. So, using every moment strategically is a worthy goal. Making a great first impression will “condition” the recruiter to expect a good conversation; so, appropriate attire, good posture, eye contact, a firm handshake and a smile are your first steps toward achieving that goal.

After the introductions, it’s time to get down to business. This is where your resume takes center stage and provides the foundation for answering the one question in every recruiter’s mind: Why should we call you in for an interview?

When anyone looks at a written document, they start at the top. And, just like your “visual” first impression conditions a recruiter, so does what they read first. So, how does your resume create a positive impact that influences recruiters desire to know more? It starts with a compelling summary that highlights your strengths and values.

Here are two before and after summary sections. Can you see the transformations?



While your summary is the key to getting recruiters’ attention, your bullet points are what reel them in, and what will get you the interview. These points should validate your brand and potential to add value in two ways:

  • They define the scope of responsibilities and the types of challenges you have faced in past experiences.
  • They identify specific accomplishments and achievements.

Here are examples that illustrate ways to make the most impact in the experience section of your resume.

Accounting Intern

Recorded and tracked financial transactions using QuickBooks Software. Wrote checks, made deposits, and prepared monthly bank reconciliations to prevent accounting errors. Helped prepare an annual financial report, enabling a firm to assess its financial status and compute tax obligations. Computed taxes owed and prepared a corporate tax return using Drake Tax Software.

  • Met all deadlines and expectations by accurately completing a wide variety of accounting functions (example of value added)

Staff Accountant (Entry level)

Completed bookkeeping, billing and monthly bank reconciliations for four high-value companies as well as monthly payroll and quarterly employment tax returns for 15 companies. Performed analytical reviews of financial statements to ensure accuracy and prepared tax returns including 1120, 1120S, 1065, 1040, and additional forms for 50+ clients

  • Generated a 10% increase in company revenue by cultivating strong client relationships through outstanding accounting service, professional demeanor and communication skills
  • Successfully won 10+ new clients by demonstrating ability to perform tests of internal controls, identify and resolve issues, and make recommendations to enhance business efficiency
  • Professional Skills: QuickBooks, Excel, individual and corporate tax returns, sales tax, payroll tax, bookkeeping

Allow these examples to guide you as you prepare for upcoming career fairs and fine-tune your resume. Although what is covered in this article is limited, your resources are not! Make sure to contact the Career Center and Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK) for resume and interview help before and during your next job fair visit.

Reminder: To connect with Lynn and other ASK mentors like her, visit Handshake!

Peer Career Advisors: They Can Help You Ace Your Next Interview

In addition to my role as career advisor to College of Science and Health students, I have the distinct honor of managing the Career Center’s Peer Career Advisor Program (PCAP). Peer career advisors are available on a walk-in basis to help students and recent alumni with basic career-related topics, including:

  • Resume development and critiques
  • Cover letter basics and feedback
  • Interviewing tips

They’re also experts on the many services the Career Center offers, so they’re well equipped to explain and connect you with advisors, workshops, events, and programs!

This year’s team is exceptional! Learn a little bit about our eight peer career advisors and consider some of their top career-related tips.


“Being a PCAP has taught me the importance of networking…” — Alysa

Hey! I’m Alysa, and this is my second year as a PCAP. I am currently a senior studying international studies and hoping to go into nonprofit management. Being a PCAP has taught me the importance of networking and showed me that being comfortable with myself and the atmosphere in the office contributes to success. The best piece of advice I can give to students is to be confident; be confident in yourself and your position, and during an interview or networking event. That confidence will show through your work, and will be seen by employers.

“My desired career path…is to become a staff writer for a TV show in Hollywood.” — Dontorrie

My name is Dontorrie. I’m a senior majoring in psychology with a concentration in human services, and a minor in screen writing. I became a peer career advisor because I wanted to use my previous experience as a mentor to continue to assist DePaul students on a higher level with their career development. Some of my favorite hobbies are playing video games and making pottery. My desired career path after graduation is to become a staff writer for a television show in Hollywood. The best advice I can give to students curious about Career Center services is to take advantage of any of the services available. Even if you don’t necessarily feel you need to use a specific service, try it out. In the end, you may just learn from the experience.

“…I especially enjoy working with first-year students.” — Heather

I’m a junior studying philosophy and Spanish. I’m also currently a resident advisor in Belden-Racine Hall at DePaul. My decision to become a peer career advisor was motivated by the love I have for working one-on-one with students; I especially enjoy working with first-year students. My one piece of advice for students using the Career Center is that if you’re unsure whom to go to for help, make an appointment with us! We can help direct you.

“…the advisors here helped me choose a major and find a career field…” — Jane

My name is Jane, and I’m a senior majoring in health sciences with a minor in Spanish. I first came into the Career Center during my freshman year, and the advisors here helped me choose a major and find a career field that excited me. I decided to apply for the Peer Career Advisor Program soon after. I would definitely recommend that all students—whether you know what you want to do in the future or not—come in to meet with their career advisor. Our career advisors know a lot and can really help you discover your path!

“…I always recommend making use of the resources DePaul offers so you can make the most of your time here.” — Leyla

I am a senior studying public policy and geography here at DePaul. I am originally from northern New Hampshire, but love the city as much as I love a little farm town. From my start at DePaul I have been deeply invested in student involvement and the student experience and have held positions with DePaul Activities Board, DePaul Housing Services, DePaul Greek life and more. As an old and wizened senior, I always recommend making use of the resources DePaul offers so you can make the most of your time here. Best of luck, Blue Demons!

“…I’m a junior majoring in psychology with a…concentration in law, crime, and criminology. — Maya

Hey all! My name is Maya, and I’m a junior majoring in psychology with a minor in sociology and concentration in law, crime, and criminology. I decided to become a peer career advisor after taking an awesome class with the University Internship Program; I learned a lot about the Career Center and its resources during the class and knew I had to get involved! When I’m not working in the Career Center, I’m teaching as a Chicago Quarter Mentor, acting as vice president of DePaul College Democrats, or exploring the city with my friends in search of pretty buildings and good food. As far as advice goes for using the Career Center—don’t wait until your senior year to visit! The Career Center offers so many valuable resources. The sooner you come in, the more you’ll get out of it.

“…I have decided to pursue a career in social work after I graduate.” — Mackenzie

Hi there! My name is Mackenzie, and I am a senior double majoring in sociology and English and minoring in professional writing. This is my third year acting as a peer career advisor, a position I decided to apply for my freshman year after a number of positive experiences with Career Center staff. Because of my experience working at the Career Center, as well as experiences volunteering at various nonprofits throughout the city, I have decided to pursue a career in social work after I graduate. In my free time I enjoy going to concerts and music festivals, writing, and traveling.

“…I hope that my career path will allow me to explore art and culture through a social science lens.” — Nellie

My name is Nellie and I am a senior studying women and gender studies with a minor in English literature. I am interested in many interdisciplinary issues related to humanities, and I hope that my career path will allow me to explore art and culture through a social science lens. I wanted to become a peer career advisor because I love writing, editing, and working one-on-one with others in order to create successful pieces of work! My advice to students is to not be afraid to reach out to any advisor at the Career Center because they will go above and beyond to help and would love to meet you.

Connect with a peer career advisor today! Peers are available on a walk-in basis during business hours. Connect with this awesome crew by email at, or live chat with them on the Career Center website.

A Beginner’s Guide to Creating a Digital Portfolio

Digital portfolios are terrific tools that can help you stand out in the application process. When you present employers with a portfolio, it provides them with tangible evidence of your skills and capabilities that a resume may only be able to hint at. Adding a link to a digital portfolio in your resume—or in an email to an employer—can help you stand out from the competition, even in industries where portfolios are not often required by hiring managers.

If you’re new to creating a digital portfolio, it can seem like a daunting task. The good news is that the crew at the Career Center can provide a wealth of knowledge to help you create and build a digital portfolio. More good news: You don’t need to be a tech whiz to create one.

Here are a few key tips to help you get started with building your own portfolio from scratch.

Gather Samples of Your Work

The purpose of a digital portfolio is to highlight work that you have produced in a past internship, academic course, extracurricular, or volunteer experience. So, the first step is to gather a variety of samples to include in your portfolio. A minimum of five samples is a good starting point, as you want to have enough samples to justify the creation of a portfolio; anything less than five samples can be easily emailed as attachments to employers.

Begin by reflecting on your work experience. Are there particular projects you worked on at an internship or job that you could include in a portfolio? These samples make a strong impression because it shows that you’ve utilized specific skill sets in a professional setting. Before moving forward with a work sample, though, make sure you have permission from your former supervisor to include it in a personal portfolio.

Next, think about some of the classes you’ve taken and identify papers, PowerPoint presentations, or other major projects you’re proud of. If you didn’t save your work, check with a past professor to see if he or she has a copy. Or, if you submitted assignments through DePaul’s online teaching tool, D2L, log in and see if they’re still available.

If you don’t have access to a particular project, see if a former supervisor or professor is willing to write a mini-recommendation for you. A portfolio is a great opportunity to showcase both your work and any positive written feedback you’ve received from professionals you’ve worked with in the past.

Finally, a great advantage of a digital portfolio is that you have the ability to include audio/visual components. If you took (or can be seen in) pictures or videos that pertain to any of the experiences above, these can make for great inclusions in a portfolio.

Select a Website to Host Your Portfolio

Once you’ve gathered samples, the next step is to explore different websites that you can use to host your digital portfolio. Many students prefer Wix or Weebly, as these are relatively user-friendly and do not require coding, HTML, or other skills of more technical professionals. For applicants with writing samples, blog platforms such as WordPress and Tumblr are great resources to post longer pieces of written work. Finally, there are portfolio platforms designed specifically for creative professionals who want to highlight a lot of audio/visual artifacts, including Carbonmade and Coroflot.

Many of these sites allow you to create a portfolio for free, but if you want to add a few more bells and whistles to your site—or have complete ownership over the domain name and URL—there is usually an annual fee. With this annual fee, however, comes greater control over your site.

Build Your Site

Now that you have chosen your samples, and a website to host your portfolio, it’s time to begin putting it together. While every portfolio template is different, there are a few categories every digital portfolio should include:

  • homepage that clearly articulates your name, your professional brand (e.g. “Aspiring Public Relations Professional”), and a visual that helps your page stand out. This could be a professional headshot, or a photo that has some relationship to the industry you want to work in. If there’s a quote that resonates with you and your work ethic, that can make a nice addition here, too.
  • A separate page that’s dedicated to your resume. This should include both the content of your resume directly on the page as well as a downloadable PDF or Word version, which will allow employers to see your resume in its original form. Just remember to omit any contact information you do not want to make public on your site.
  • Regarding contact information, you should include a contact page that let’s employers know the best way they can reach you. Many people will include their email, but this is a great space to also highlight any additional social media channels you take advantage of for professional purposes, such as a LinkedIn profile, Twitter handle, or personal blog.

Next Steps

From here, your digital portfolio will begin to take shape as a tool specific to your individual skills and goals. Take a look at the Career Center’s portfolio page to see samples of completed student portfolios across different majors. You can also meet with your career advisor to learn more about what employers really want to see in digital portfolios.

Like Buttons on a Coat: Tailoring Resumes for the Right Audience

By: Gina Anselmo, former career advisor for the DePaul University College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences

When considering tailoring a traditional resume to a more industry-specific and customized document, you want to think about what I call ‘buttons on a coat.’ Buttons on a coat is a phrase I usually say to my students to help them visualize how they want the reader to quickly form associations of their skills and value for a certain position and field. To make the best case for yourself, it is important to consider categories that steer the viewer to organize and seek recognition of key skills and experiences.

Back to Basics – Traditional vs. Customized

  • Traditional Resume – A traditional resume will have some of these basic categories: Contact information, education, work or internship experiences, and skills. While a customized resume will have these too, consider how you unpack your experience section further and can elevate the reader viewing you in a holistic light. In addition, think about all of the ways you stand out with technical and soft skills.
  • Customized Resume – A customized resume will show the reader how you specialize in a particular field. Common customized resumes tend to be created for teaching, counseling, IT, and healthcare fields, but certainly any industry can have a customized resume. The key is to consider which categories on your resume will make the most sense for your particular field and position.

Making Your Case – Resume Check List

In order to make the best case for yourself and strengthen how an employer will see you, it’s important to check yourself and brainstorm a few quick questions before you set your draft in motion:

  • The Bundling Effect: What relevant experiences can you group together? Consider what skills and experiences you want to highlight. For example, do you want them to see the range of teaching-related experiences, program development, or writing experience? Remember, the reader is looking at the document quickly. So, it will be important for you to be strategic and bundle the most relevant experiences together (paid and unpaid). If your experiences are much more broad and highlight different touch points in a particular industry or setting, it might make sense to highlight in a larger umbrella such as “Related Experience” rather than “Teaching-Related Experience.”
  • Pulling in Reinforcements: What other areas do you want to highlight? After you consider how you want to group your experiences (i.e. Teaching-Related Experience and Professional-Related Experience) think about how you want to close the loop and highlight other experiences and skill sets. For instance, would it make sense to consider sections on special projects, community outreach, related coursework, research experience, leadership, committee work, freelance, etc.?
  • Customizing the Customized: Is it too specific or a fit? Okay, this takes a little soul-searching. Consider how nitty gritty and literal you want to go on your resume. Does it make sense to consider a nitch category on your resume such as “Sustainability-Related Experience” or “Higher Education Experience?” Remember, not one size will fit all and you will want to consider if that nitch category makes sense when you share to multiple employers. Also, consider if it makes sense to just group it by work environment; is it really making a case for what skills you can offer to the perspective position or is it just sharing that you have been in a similar environment. Consider groupings that make the best case for skills and experiences first.

Show it to Your Sidekick

Finally, after you complete your industry-specific resume, be sure to share it with trusted sources in the industry and advising professionals specialized in reviewing these documents. It always helps to get a fresh perspective and hear how others are interpreting and viewing your skill sets. Guide the conversation and ask them what skills and experiences are clear, what is missing, and what information might still be unclear. Remember, if you share your resume with 10 different people, be prepared to get 10 different opinions! Weigh all recommendations and consider which suggestions make the most sense for you.

My Advice to You When Developing Your Customized Resume

Don’t worry if you feel like you’re playing musical chairs when crafting your customized resume. A benefit of creating an industry-specific resume is that you are highlighting different experiences and skills depending on the role and industry. What might fit into a “related” section might change and what is elevated in one resume might be more muted in another. Keep your customized resume fluid and edit your document in a way that gives you the best advantage for each new opportunity!

Are you interested in strengthening your customized resume? You can meet with a career advisor who specializes in supporting your college. You may also consider checking out our online college resume packets and connecting with an ASK mentor for advice!

To the Nines: Aesthetics of Resume Writing

By: Gina Anselmo, former career advisor for the DePaul University College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences

After many years of reviewing resumes, I can easily spot the ones that are in need of a makeover. Sometimes there might be a knee-jerk reaction when drafting a resume to add everything but the kitchen sink in terms of design elements, including bolded, italicized or underlined words, fancy borders, brand icons, columns and more.

The golden rule I tend to share with students? Less is more when creating a resume. Practicing this rule will allow your resume to exude a strong sense of aesthetics, which in turn will hook the employer and entice them to continue reading.

Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 9.28.40 AM

Greedy Margins: Margins that are less than .8 tend to make a resume look too dense with content. I recommend that you stay between .8 and 1.0-inch margins.

Itty Bitty Font Size: Back away from font sizes 8 or 9. Small fonts make it harder for employers to read your credentials, and may distract them. Rather, try to keep fonts between 10-12 to ensure clarity and ease for the reader.

Triple Threat – Bolding, Underlining, and Italicizing: Choose one of these accents to highlight titles or organizations, but not all three. Using a mixture of all three will compete with the content.

Borders Blasts: Avoid adding extra lines and boxes if you’re going to include a border. Keep in mind that borders tend to mash the text like a portrait in the center of the page. Always consider if a border or box will complement the text or compete with it.

Bullets for Days: Remember to make thoughtful editing choices; you do not need several bulleted accomplishment statements, only a few that you are proud of and that will impress or intrigue an employer. Try not to use other icons as bullets, including an asterisk.

Icons and Images: Consider adding any branding or imagery within a portfolio rather than a resume. You have much more creative license for a portfolio to share imagery and other artifacts.

Dreaded Paragraphs: Remember the under 30-second rule! Readers are spending little time on an initial review, and heavy paragraphs might slow down the process; sticking with a concise yet comprehensive bulleted format looks cleaner and is more digestible.

Typically, readers take an initial glance at resumes for 10-30 seconds. If the aesthetic is a bit of a fashion faux pas then the reader is less likely to review the content. Aesthetic is the first point of contact for the reader. If you want to make a good first impression, you need to be intentional about design editing choices.

Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 9.31.04 AM

There are many design elements a student can consider when crafting a resume. However, it’s important to choose elements that will best complement and highlight the content. Below is a mini checklist to help you choose the design elements for certain sections of a resume:

Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 9.35.57 AM Contact Information

  • Pay attention to font type and size! Consider a larger font that isn’t distracting
  • Classic black is fine, but you might consider an accent color to give some content a lift
  • Use fewer lines for your contact information to create a clean look and to save space

Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 9.35.57 AM Categories

  • Make sure the format is consistent throughout; Each section should be organized, and spacing and alignment should be consistent
  • Remember to avoid being wordy with long category titles; titles should be concrete and clear

Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 9.35.57 AM Experience

  • Remember, density weighs on aesthetics; shoot for 4-5 bullets (more or less) depending on the weight of experience and relevancy
  • Having multiple sentences in a single bulleted statement could look dense. Try to keep most bulleted statements to one line, and avoid paragraphs

My advice to you when sprucing up your resume?

A little perfume goes along way. Resume development is certainly an art, not a science. What might seem pleasing to one reader might be a little different to another. However, when trying to stand out from the crowd, it’s important to keep in mind that less is more. Always ask yourself if your document is easy to read, highlights what should stand out, and is professional looking. Remember, you want to stand out in a good way and ensure that the reader takes a deeper dive to find out how strong you really are as a candidate!

Need help with your resume? The Career Center offers many resources including walk-in resume critiques and online resources. Visit the Career Center website to learn more.

When & How to Make a Creative Resume

Many recruiters are turning to social media platforms when seeking applicants, but that doesn’t mean the resume is dead.

Whether employers find you on LinkedIn or meet with you face-to-face at job fairs, they are still going to ask for a resume that details relevant, professional experience. The challenge, then, is how to stand out when your resume joins the towering pile of other strong candidate resumes. Before you decide to fill out your resume with elaborate colors and graphics, it’s important to consider how receptive your industry is to creative resumes, as well as the right and wrong approach to standing out from the crowd.

Know Your Audience

Some industries, like advertising and graphic design, will automatically expect unconventional resume formats. For others, recruiters will rely more on how well you construct your bullet points versus creative bells and whistles. To find out which resume format is best, research the company website and get a sense of your audience. If the company’s mission, values, or goals represent more traditional ideals, then your resume should follow suit. On the other hand, if the company presents itself a little more creatively – perhaps through humorous “meet the staff” photos or an inventively structured website – this should clue you in on the company culture, and may indicate that an out-of-the-box approach to your resume would be appreciated.

Beyond the website, connecting to professionals who work at the company through DePaul’s Alumni Sharing Knowledge program or LinkedIn is a great way to gain insider insight about an organization’s culture, and learn more definitively whether or not a creative resume will carry weight.

Less Is More

Students who are technically savvy may be comfortable creating a completely unique design for their resume, but that doesn’t mean non-designers are out of luck. In many cases, taking subtle creative liberties can help a more traditional resume stand out from the crowd. If your resume is in black and white, you can try using a different font color to emphasize key words like your name and category headings. Maybe you want to keep your categories the same, but present them in a different format, such as columns, or highlight key skill sets using a visual chart. Another option is to create a minimalist logo that represents your brand and can be used across your other application materials like a cover letter or business card. These are minor, simple ways you can add a little flavor to more traditional resumes.

Keep It Simple

While not suitable for all industries, infographic resumes have been growing in popularity. The challenge when creating one is to make sure it is easy to understand. While unconventional in nature, infographic resumes should still include information that employers have come to expect, such as your education and work experience. For recruiters, the only thing worse than a badly written resume is a resume that takes several seconds to figure out how to even read it. (And in both cases, they will be tossed aside.) Sites like Visme, Info.gram, and Venngage provide several clean, easy-to-navigate templates for creating infographic resumes. Choose one that highlights your creativity while providing a clear structure so readers know how to get from point A to point B.

Meet with your career advisor to learn more about the types of resumes that get noticed in your field, and whether or not a more creative approach is the norm. If it’s not, subtle alterations like color and formatting could make all the difference. If it is, play around with a few infographic templates; these could help your resume stand out in a striking way.