Your resume is your first opportunity to make a lasting impression on potential employers and showcase the skills and knowledge you've acquired throughout your academic career. We'll provide you with valuable insights and four practical tips to help you create a compelling resume that paves the way for a successful transition into the workforce.
Highlight internships and volunteer work
As a recent graduate, it’s likely that you don’t have much experience directly relevant to the job you’re applying for. However, this doesn’t mean you don’t have highly sought-after skills employers want.
Many transferable skills that recruiters in all fields look for, such as collaboration, time management, or problem solving, are skills that you have probably picked up elsewhere during your time as a student.
For example, if you’ve completed internships or volunteered for a local non-profit, these make great additions to your resume. Highlighting non-work related experience when preparing your application helps employers get an overview of your skill set and understand how you’ve applied these skills in the past.
When you write your bullet points, remember to focus on experience that showcases abilities and personal qualities mentioned in the job ad. A resume tailored to the specific position you’re applying for is more likely to land you an interview than a generic resume that could’ve been used to apply for any company or role.
Use a chronological resume format
If you’ve done some research on resume writing already, you may have heard that as someone without a lot of relevant work experience, you should use a functional resume (also known as a skills-based resume) to downplay your lack of experience.
However, the best option is still to use a chronological resume format, even as a recent graduate. Not sure what a chronological resume looks like? Most resume templates you find online will follow the standard, chronological format.
The reason you should opt for this type of resume is that it’s the kind hiring managers expect to see, and it most effectively highlights your qualifications. But there are some modifications you should make if you don’t have any work experience yet.
On a typical chronological resume, the work experience section is placed at the top. Replace it with a section simply titled “Experience” and list any internship, volunteer, part-time work, or other experience that has taught you valuable skills that will help you excel in the workplace.
Optionally, you can place your education section at the top if your academic experience is your greatest selling point.
Emphasize your academic achievements
One of the key areas that can set you apart from other job seekers seeking an entry-level role is highlighting your academic achievements. Your educational background serves as a testament to your knowledge, dedication, and ability to learn, so spend a little extra time on this section of your resume.
When emphasizing your academic accomplishments, remember that it's not just about listing your degrees and institutions; it's about showcasing your academic excellence, any honors or awards you've received, and relevant coursework.
You don’t need to mention every class you’ve ever taken, but including 3-4 relevant courses can make your resume more compelling. It also shows that you’re aware of what your strengths are, meaning you have thought about why your background makes you an ideal fit for the position.
Link to your portfolio or website
Depending on what industry you’re applying for work in, linking to your digital portfolio or website in the contact information section of your resume can make your application more interesting to recruiters.
For example, if you majored in fine arts, journalism, computer science, or video production, you should have a collection of your best work ready to share with potential employers.
If you don’t have a digital version of your portfolio yet, set aside some time to select your best pieces of work and upload them online to make them easily accessible to recruiters. This will allow them to better gauge your skill level and style, helping them visualize how you can contribute to the success of their business.
Ida Petterson is Career Coach and Resume Expert at Resume Genius. Committed to empowering job seekers of all experience levels to take the next step in their careers, Ida helps professionals navigate the job hunt from start to finish. After graduating from New College of Florida with a B.A. in Philosophy and Chinese Language and Culture, Ida moved to Hong Kong to begin her own career journey and finally settled in Taiwan.
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