Graduation day is growing closer by the minute. The time to leave your academic career behind and step out into the real world is just around the corner. How did the time pass by so quickly? Weren’t you a freshman just yesterday?
Making the move from the academic world into the professional world starts with perfecting your Resume. You’ve spent the last four years learning, stretching your comfort zone, and experiencing new things. And it’s important that you’re able to clearly communicate everything you’ve learned on paper for hiring managers to see.
Here are five things you absolutely must do before sending in your resume.
Eliminate Any Errors
This may seem basic, but making sure that your resume is free from any typos or grammatical errors is essential. Misspelled words, poor sentence structure, and careless grammar make for a terrible first impression. Be sure to carefully read through the entire document a few times, even reading it out loud to eliminate any mistakes.
It can be pretty hard to catch your own errors though. It’s always helpful to find someone else to read through and double check your work. Most university career centers or writing centers offer resume check services. But if that’s not convenient, you can always ask a trusted friend or family member to take a look for you.
There are also a ton of great online resources that can help with this as well. Tools like Ginger and Grammarly are both popular grammar checking tools that can help you avoid any embarrassing mistakes.
Don’t Forget About Formatting
It’s important to choose a resume format that best demonstrates your strongest skills. Don’t have a ton of job experience to list out? Try organizing your resume in a functional format, which focuses on skills rather than chronological experience. Organize the document by themes, such as your strongest skills or experience. For instance, say you’re applying for a job in sales that lists strong communication skills as a job requirement. Create a section on your resume titled “Communication Skills” and list out specific examples that demonstrate your ability, such as leading school club meetings or attending a public speaking class.
It’s also important to take some time to format smaller details. Ensure that the font and margins are the same throughout the document, and that it’s easy to read. Each industry has certain formatting “rules” you should abide by.
Try looking at example resumes online for similar job positions and see what elements they include. Applying for a job in design? Most resumes you look at may include a personalized logo or a heavy use in color. The same probably won’t be said for most sales jobs, though. Make sure you pick a format relevant to the job you’re applying for.
Strategically Place Keywords
Chances are you won’t be the only person applying for any given job. In fact in many cases, it’s likely that your resume will be one in a very large pile. So it’s important to stand out and show how your experience and skills are relevant to that specific job. Adding appropriate keywords is a great place to start.
It’s very common for companies to use an applicant tracking system that scans through resumes looking for specific items including keywords. Your resume is run through an automated search engine such as a parser, which takes strings of words and analyzes them into categories, such as education or work experience. Resumes are filtered by relevancy to the job. If a resume is marked as relevant, it lands on the desk of a hiring manager.
Not sure which keywords you should include? A great place to start is the job description itself. What words or phrases do they use to describe the role and the skills necessary to fulfill it? Try and match specific phrases in your resume to those included in the job listing.
You can also try checking out the company’s “About Us” or “Missions” page online and look for the types of words they use to describe their company, including its culture and values. Finally, don’t forget that the keywords you use will change for every job you apply for. So make sure and create a new resume that specifically fits each application you send in.
Demonstrate Your Skills
The purpose of a resume is to demonstrate that you are the right candidate for an open job. And the best way to prove you are the best candidate is to show off your achievements. This can be a sticky point for many new college grads. If you don’t have any real world experience, how are you supposed to show real world results?
But keep in mind that hiring managers are aware that you’re a recent grad, so they aren’t expecting a resume full of career experience. However, they still will expect you to demonstrate why you think you’re a fit for the job.
Were you recognized by your university or by a manager for going above and beyond? Include that in your resume. What specific classes did you take during your time in college that introduced you to concepts needed for the jobs? List those out.
Be sure and include any clubs you actively participated and any leadership roles you held. A leadership role can be as simple as a time you took the driver’s seat on a group project. The point is to show the skills and experience you do have through examples so that hiring managers can easily see that you’re capable of filling their role.
According to a study done by The Ladders, interviewers spend an average of six seconds running through your resume. Yikes! Keeping this in mind, make all sections on your resume are concise and clear so that the recruiter gets the information he or she needs. Emphasize your achievements and any other important points at the top of the page.
Consider using bullet points instead of paragraphs to state exactly what the hiring manager needs to know about you. Avoid using any unnecessary buzzwords and fluff that take up space. Also be careful when using jargon, in case the hiring manager is unfamiliar with those terms.
Your resume is often the first impression you make with a potential employer, so it’s important that you create the best version of it that you can. It’s a process that takes some practice and a lot of focus. However, with some careful editing and strategic formatting, you’ll be standing out to employers in no time!
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