Your first job search post-college graduation can be exciting – but also a bit daunting. This may be your first professional gig – the job that sets the tone for your working career. It’s tricky to know what your resume is supposed to look like, and what you should include and omit. Here are four tips to break it down and make it easier and less intimidating.
1. Start with your resume.
This is your first mode of communication with your potential new employer and you want to make a positive impression. Your resume should be easy-to-read and well organized. Put your name and contact information clearly at the top. Your education including school, degree and graduation comes next – followed by your work experience. If you had an internship that relates to the job you are applying to, it’s fine to list it before your work experience. I recommend starting with your basic resume and customizing it for each job you submit it to. Be sure you have perfect spelling and grammar – it’s always a good idea to have a friend review your resume for you.
2. Make yourself competitive.
New grads don’t typically have extensive work experience, so it’s important to emphasize your strengths and potential and show that you are well rounded. Things like internships are important and can give you a competitive edge. If your GPA is impressive, list it! If you were involved in extracurriculars, note them. Volunteer experience is important to highlight, especially if it relates to the job or industry you are applying to. Be sure to include any work experience even if it doesn’t relate directly to your target job. Showing you held a job, especially for an extended period, demonstrates you are reliable, dependable and a hard worker. Foreign language skills are highly desirable, so include them on your resume and note your level of fluency. This can be especially valuable when applying for a job with a global presence.
3. A few no-nos.
Unless you have been working at a job or company since high school, and are still there, avoid including high school information on your post-college resume. A resume usually starts around the time you entered college and while you may have done a few noteworthy things in high school, they are now outdated.
At this stage especially, your “Career Objective” is pretty much to find a job. The space for that can be better used for a software skills section or to highlight things you’ve done on your own time, like coding.
Whatever you do, don’t lie! It’s ok to emphasize what you did and to “humble brag” a bit, but don’t inflate your GPA or overstate your responsibilities at that internship. The world is small and chances are, your future employer will find out.
4. You backpacked around Asia for 6 months…
It’s ok not to have a lot of professional experience at this stage – most people don’t. Given that, showing aspects of yourself through life’s experiences is a great addition. If you studied abroad, list the classes you took. If you traveled extensively on your own, note of it under a “hobbies” section at the bottom.
Take your post-college resume creation one step at a time – ask for guidance from a trusted family member or mentor, and believe in yourself. With that, you will create a resume that represents who you are as a person and potential employee.
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