As a recent graduate, you may not have much professional experience to boast of, so how should you handle the “experience” subheading of your resume? Should you skip it altogether? Should you list your babysitting and lawn mowing summer jobs? Should you oversell your two-month unpaid internship?
All of these are legitimate options. And in fact, if you did hold a two–month internship or a local babysitting business when you were a teenager, employers will certainly be interested in hearing about this experience and the skills and lessons you gained in these roles. There’s nothing wrong with boasting about the work you’ve done and the accomplishments you’ve achieved, no matter how small they may seem at this stage in your career.
And while you’re at it, take the opportunity to showcase your academic “work” as well. You’ve spent countless hours applying yourself inside and outside of the classroom, and these hours can tell employers plenty of positive things about your value as a candidate. Keep these tips in mind.
1. Restate your headings.
Instead of stating your subheading as “Job History” or “Professional Experience,” describe this section as “Relevant Experience.” This opens up new realms of possibility for your message. Conduct a little research on the company and the position so you know that these employers will consider “relevant”. Then include anything that might fall under that umbrella.
2. List team projects and individual accomplishments.
Before you start drafting and editing your document, get some scratch paper and make a list. Over the last four/six/eight years, which of your academic projects have been the most challenging? Which ones made you the most proud? Which ones have taught you the most about the field/job you’re about to step into? List the projects and battles you fought alone (like the graduate level course you took when you were a freshman) and also the hurdles you faced with a team (the balsa-wood bridge-building competition you won with your engineering classmates).
3. Break down each project with bullet points stating the lesson/goals
List each project under your primary subheading. Then under each project, create a list of two to three bullet points, and find a consistent way to populate those points. You can list the primary lessons you gained from each project, the tricky challenges you faced, or the metrics used to determine project success.
4. Gather a list of awards and acknowledgements.
Earning an A in a challenging course is definitely a victory, but how did your accomplishments extend beyond the classroom? List your science fair awards, your published poetry, or the viral reaction to the documentary you created for your film class.
5. Include extracurriculars.
Successful projects also non-classroom challenges that you faced on the sports field or the performing arts stage. Don’t neglect your extracurricular victories as you organize the details of your document.
Resume Formatting Begins With Clear Organization
Your resume can help you land a brilliant first job and launch your career into the stratosphere, but before that happens, your readers will have to understand and remember your primary points. This starts with clear organization and formatting, and LiveCareer can help with both. Take advantage of the sophisticated resume building tools on the site before finalize your resume and send it off.