You’ve been preparing for this moment for a long time. With every test, homework assignment, paper and project, you’ve been working your way to a final goal that always existed somewhere ahead of you in the hazy, uncertain future: getting a job. This is where your years of effort and commitment finally pay off, the next big step, the “real world.”
But before you can land that first all-important job offer, you’ll need to summarize everything you’ve done and everything you are into a short one-page document that employers will use to judge your value and compare your potential contributions with those of your competitors. Ideally, your resume will convince potential employers to take a chance on you and provide you with your first dose of professional experience. If you’ve never gone through this process before, keep this tips in mind as you get started.
1. Be proud.
Too many novice job seekers assume that their lack of experience will be detriment in the eyes of potential employers. So they embark on the application process already feeling apologetic and trying to hide and spin the truth about their qualifications. Don’t do this. Years of experience aren’t necessary at the entry level, and employers won’t usually be searching for this. Instead, they’ll be searching for signs of enthusiasm, reliability, and high potential. Don’t worry about the past—Focus on the future.
2. Create a strong summary.
Your summary will show your employers that you know what you want, you know where you’re heading in this life, you know what you have to offer, and most of all, you know how to articulate these things clearly. Above all, your summary should send the message that you know how to write a killer summary.
3. Showcase your education.
Since you don’t have much professional experience yet, your employers will pay close attention to every detail of your education section. They may or may not care about the reputation of your school, but they’ll care about your course of study, so state and describe it clearly. And if you have a GPA higher than 3.0, they’ll care about this too. If you’re GPA is lower than a 3.0 or your graduated more than two years ago, don’t include this detail.
4. Discuss your relevant experience.
Your work history will be thin to non-existent at this stage, so instead, use this space on the page for a subheading called “relevant experience.” Under this subheading, create a separate bullet point for every award, every major project, every internship, and every part time job you’ve held that might convince your employers to place their trust in you.
5. Use your special skills to tip the scale.
What can you do that other candidates probably can’t? What can you offer to this company or bring to this job that other candidates won’t? Are you a great negotiator? Are you good at resolving conflict? Are you a strong story teller, a math whiz, a problem solver, an idea generator, a fixer, a planner? What software programs can you use proficiently and explain to others? Do you have coding experience? Are you bilingual? Are you great at leading, rallying, or motivating a team? If you can do any of these things, use the “skills” section at the end of your resume to make this clear.
Don’t Miss a Single Opportunity
Use every inch of your resume to showcase your strengths to potential employers, experience or no experience. Visit LiveCareer for tools and resume templates that can help you gain an edge and get the attention you need.