Resume writing and career advice
job search tips/workplace trends
Featuring career experts, recruiters, hiring managers and decision makers who help you get hired
For new college graduates, creating a winning resume can be a huge hurdle, especially since many first-time job seekers lack real-world experience. The good news is that when hiring managers are looking at entry-level job candidates, they’re looking for talent not necessarily proven work performance.
Still, taking the first step toward writing a resume with substance can be tricky—and as hiring continues to increase, job seekers will face stiff competition this year.
To help you get over your anxiety, consider the following tips and you will be well on your way to creating a top shape resume that can help land that great first job.
1. Determine your career goals
While it sounds daunting, relax: you don’t need to map out a 30 to 40-year plan, but you do need to assess your ambitions. If you’re focused on income, jobs such as a petroleum engineer, marketing manager, or air traffic controller all boast six-figure salaries according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, and they don’t require you to go to medical or law school.
Granted, the size of the paycheck may not be the most important factor to you. In fact, 65 percent of millennials said they took their first job because they saw an opportunity for personal development, while only 21 percent based their decision on salary, a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers survey found. Therefore, you need to decide where your priorities are, and then find a job that aligns with them.
You’ll also want to assess prospective industries for job growth by using the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook, which tracks projected growth rate of over 300 occupations. By the way, if you aspire to be a wind turbine service technician or an occupational or physical therapy assistant, you are in luck as they topped the Bureau’s list of the fastest-growing jobs.
2. Build a master resume
Your resume needs to highlight your strength and what makes you a vital hire to prospective employers. So, if you haven’t done so already, create a list of your core skills, achievements, and experience to date. This list will help guide you through the resume writing process.
Because every job opening is unique, you’ll want to create a distinct resume for each job application. To conserve time, build a “master resume” which is a template that contains all your work history, accomplishments, and skills. Once established, use it as the basis to draw from when crafting your job-specific resume.
However, remember to beef it up by highlighting what makes you a vital hire to prospective employers. So if you haven’t already, create a list of your core skills, achievements, and experience to date. This list will help guide you through the resume writing process and will help make that master resume sing.
3. Don’t only focus on professional experience
When you’re an entry-level job seeker, it’s expected that you won’t have a ton of work experience under your belt. However, hiring managers still want to see that you’ve had some hands-on involvement. Therefore, including volunteer work and, of course, internships on your resume can help you demonstrate not only your abilities but also your drive.
Similarly, it’s okay to include relevant college course work on your resume—at least when you’re starting out. If you’re applying for a marketing job for example, specifying that you took a class on consumer behavior may make you more attractive to prospective employers.
4. Show that you’re a team player
Today, more than ever, employers are focused on creating collaborative workplaces. In fact, about 70 percent of American employees are now working in open-plan offices, according to the International Facility Management Association. Furthermore, 83 percent of employers recently surveyed said that teamwork is a top priority when assessing entry-level job candidates.
With this in mind, make sure your resume conveys that you’re a team player. This can be accomplished by stating on your resume that you worked on a team project either in a college or during an internship and explain how you contributed to the group’s success using metrics i.e. “led a group of four fellow interns in a six-week assignment completed for $10,000 below budget.”
Bonus Tip: Highlight hard skills--not soft skills
Many job seekers—rookies in particular—waste space on their resume listing soft skills like leadership, problem solving, and adaptability. The problem is soft skills are subjective, meaning hiring managers can’t really tell that you possess them simply by reading your resume. Instead, use the skills section of your resume to showcase hard skills or certifications that make you more marketable. Depending on the industry, these might include proficiency in Excel, knowledge of HTML, or being fluent in a second language. Then let your soft skills shine during the job interview.
Sell yourself instantly
While research varies, some studies have found that hiring managers spend as little as six seconds before deciding whether an applicant might be a good fit for the job. Hence, the top third of your resume needs to immediately convey your unique selling points. This section should be a two- to three sentence “wow” statement. A good example: “Results-driven advertising professional with internship experience at Nestle, Google, and Intel.” Finding a job is never easy, and this is especially true for new job seekers. However, by following the above tips, you will be well on your way to securing your next big opportunity and, more importantly, to starting on your own career path.
About the Author:
James Clift is CEO of VisualCV, the largest resume and portfolio creation platform with over 1 million members in dozens of countries worldwide. For more information visit Visual CV or follow the company Visit Visual CV on Twitter at @visualcv.
About Matt Krumrie
In addition to writing resumes and cover letters, Krumrie has published over 2,000 career and job search articles for the Star Tribune, Flexjobs.com, Ziprecruiter.com and more.