New college graduates will eventually have to face the inevitable and that is presenting a potential employer with a college resume. Whether they write it themselves or contact resume writing services, many students consider putting together a resume a daunting task, and they will intuitively write something without regard to best practices reflecting a contemporary college resume.
Yet, why should you allow very correctable things to prevent you from getting an interview? The following are seven tips for new college graduates to use in writing a competitive college resume.
1. Use a Professional Email Address
Many new college grads share an email account with their family back home and sport such email addresses as “themaxdude@SBC.net” or have addresses that telegraph hobbies, religion, politics, or other matters of personal interest. Such addresses can be entertaining (ex. “email@example.com” or “firstname.lastname@example.org”), but in the job search world, they can be a distraction. Resume writing services advise that it is best to stay away from anything that detracts from your professional brand. Go with a straight-forward, professional (and boring) email address such as email@example.com.
2. Proofread Your Resume
When an otherwise qualified new college grad submits a resume containing typographical errors and other mistakes, it is tragic because it is so preventable! Some hiring managers, when finding even one typo in a resume, immediately set it aside. You might say, “That’s not fair! Everyone makes a mistake.” An employer, however, will argue that someone who does not use spell check or take steps to review a document might lack the desire for perfection in other ways. It is also essential to make sure dates do not confuse the reader with overlapping timelines.
3. Skip the Photos
There are several reasons for not attaching pictures (or any image files) to a resume. They can cause problems for an Applicant Tracking System (ATS), which is a scanning and parsing software for resumes. Also, attaching a photo can give someone a reason to prejudge and potentially form a negative opinion based on your appearance. Indeed, some Human Resource departments, to protect themselves, might not even glance at resumes with photos. Exceptions to the use of photographs on resumes include resumes submitted by actors, media professionals, and those applying for international assignments. Additionally, there is a trend for using colorful font and graphics on resumes. You should save these elements for later for when you have solid work experience in your field.
4. Create a Smart Resume
The best resumes clearly define how a new college grad’s skills, behaviors, and experiences benefit the employer. Some hiring managers receive hundreds of resumes per week and do not have the time to slog through information that is of no interest to them. A smart resume is easy to read and delivers fact-based information quickly. Such a resume must clearly show what the candidate brings to the relationship.
Accomplishments are best remembered if you cite specific examples to support your claims. Relating examples of something business-oriented that ties to the employer will be well-received. Each line in the college resume must revolve around the theme: “I solved problems and met business needs for my employer in the past and will do so for you.” This practice applies across the spectrum of jobs typically held by students. There is always a way to relate them.
5. Use the Right Keywords
Keywords are vital for several reasons and will help students get past the initial machine screening to a live person. This is why resume writing services mandate the use of keywords. To find keywords, do an internet search of online advertising for the same or similar positions. Read the ads and watch for descriptive words depicting behaviors, skills, and attributes desired by the employer. When such words are repeated, they are keywords. Those most repeated are considered primary keywords and should be used within the top third of the first page.
6. Professional Resume Formatting
Again, a resume writing service will tell you that employers want to see resumes that are easy to read and guide the reader’s eyes to relevant information. A resume that is jammed with tightly packed text and runs too long may cause the reader to not even look at your college resume. Remember, your resume is an advertisement. You want it to capture attention in positive ways and lead to an interview. Therefore, keep your new college grad resume to only 1 page in length with a readable font and some white space. Save the rest of your story for the interviews.
7. It Is Not Your Life Story
The hiring representative neither cares nor has the time to read about an award you received in eighth grade. A resume is not a biography.
Your resume should also be used to highlight things not covered on a job application. Some organizations fail to ask about language skills, technical skills, volunteer work, and professional organization involvement. A brief mention of these items in a resume can help set you apart.
Bonus Tip: It’s Actually Not About You
In addition to formatting your resume, consider what resume format will resonate with the hiring manager and get your resume a second look. Hiring managers are generally very busy people, and the need to fill a position is just one more thing crowding its way onto a packed schedule. So, take a moment to consider how things look from the employer’s perspective by choosing a format that arranges information in an easy-to-read manner.
The hard truth is that smart and talented new college grads sometimes write some of the worst resumes. Whether you are using a resume writing service or electing to write your resume personally, be sure to use a professional-sounding email address, skip the photos, include relevant keywords and proper formatting, and resist the temptation to make it your life story. Also be sure to have someone else proofread it before hitting “send.”
Follow the steps above to set yourself up for success and see the difference a competitive college resume can make to help you embark on your new post-collegiate career.