Resume Tips for Recent Graduates

Recent graduate? Congratulations, and welcome to the working world. Recent graduates who are preparing the Work Experience section of a resume face a challenge during the job search process. Need a job? Get experience! Need experience? Get a job! This Catch-22 predicament has long frustrated new graduates.

The following resume tips can help you if you're in this situation:

  • Write a core resume that includes familiar requirements for your career field. If popular requirements include A, B, C, and D, be sure your core resume reflects your qualifications in A, B, C, and D. From this source document, you'll crank out shorter, targeted resumes.

  • Beef up your sales pitch. Thicken your work experience by including all unpaid positions — internships, special projects, and volunteer jobs. List them in chronological order in your Work Experience section.

  • Highlight the work experience most relevant to your intended future. If you have at least one year of full-time professional experience, place education after experience — unless your education is changing your career path.

  • Clarify your aim. Make your objective clear if you use an objective statement. Cut to the chase, like this: Research position in urban planning field in Chicago area.

  • Ditch unhelpful information: Don’t enclose your resume in a report cover or bulky package or attach school transcripts or letters of recommendation, unless they’re requested. Include an activity only if it reveals skills, competencies, or other qualifications to support your intended job. What about your college courses — do they earn their keep on your resume? No, unless the course work is unusual or you have little to say without them.

  • Data-mine your college experience: Having nothing but education to work with makes for a difficult resume scenario. Perhaps you overlooked something; even child-sitting or pet-sitting offers experience in accepting responsibility and demonstrates reliability. Consider including the following factors in identifying the experience and skills you garnered in college and matching the information with the job you hope to land:

    Work: Internships, summer jobs, part-time jobs, campus jobs, entrepreneurial jobs, temporary work, and volunteer work

    Sports: Proven ability to achieve goals in a team environment

    Awards and honors

    Research papers and projects

    Campus leadership

    Grade Point Average (GPA): If it’s 3.0 or above; otherwise, omit it (some advisers set the GPA floor at 3.5)

    Technical and software skills

Concerning student jobs, one technique to make the most of your experience is to separate your jobs into fragments and explain them. For example, don’t say that your job title was “office help” or “office clerk” and stop there. Divide the job into such functions as telephone reception, telephone sales, contract negotiations, purchasing, inventory, staff training, computer application training, Web design, public speaking, and written communications. Describe each one in terms of your accomplishments and their outcomes.

If an exhaustive search of your hobbies, campus activities, or community service turns up absolutely nothing worth putting on your resume, your education must carry the entire weight of candidacy for employment. Milk it dry, as the following sample resume suggests.

Focus on marketable skills if you have little job experience.
Focus on marketable skills if you have little job experience.

Click here to view this resume.

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