New Grad Resume Tips

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It can be difficult for new college graduates to find a good career opportunity in the current job market. Taking advantage of the career advice for new graduates and avoiding outdated career advice is always wise, but one of the key places to start is with the careful crafting of the all-important first resume.

Are you ready to write the dreaded document and start the job search? Here are some tips for new graduates that may prove particularly useful during the first-time resume writing process:

1. List All Relevant Experience

Prior paid employment is obviously something you should include on your resume, but don’t forget about other unpaid activities that may have helped you gain valuable experience. College students often conduct research studies, participate in a variety of extracurricular activities, study abroad, take leadership roles in student organizations, complete internships, or volunteer their time for worthy causes. All of these experiences could enhance the experience section of a candidate’s resume.

2. Identify Transferable Skills

Be sure to identify skills you have gained through prior employment or volunteer work, even if those previous experiences do not seem to relate directly to your intended career path at first glance. A skills-based resume format is popular, as it highlights useful skills that are readily transferable to a variety of careers. It may help to create a list of possible skills to include and feature the ones most relevant to the position for which you are applying.

3. Include Your GPA

If your grade point average was relatively strong (i.e. at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale), it definitely makes sense to highlight that achievement prominently on your resume. You can also calculate a GPA for courses in your major area, if that average is higher than your cumulative GPA, and feature that number instead.

Your school, year of graduation, and academic honors should also feature prominently on the resume’s education section. The education and honors section carries much more weight for a new graduate than someone who has a lengthy employment history.

4. Be Selective with Pre-College Details

While employers will be much more interested in experience gained during your college years, it is important to recognize that if you did some particularly relevant work during high school it may be something you should include on your resume. For instance, working at a kennel or veterinary clinic during high school could be particularly relevant experience for many animal careers, so it would be wise to consider including it on your resume despite the fact that it was pre-college experience. Just be sure not to over emphasize the high school years on your resume. You are after all a college graduate, and your college level work should be emphasized.

5. Don’t Use Gimmicks

First time resume writers tend to be more prone to having so called “great ideas” about how to get their resume noticed. Fluorescent resume paper, unusual fonts, glitter, drawings, headshots, or other such gimmicks may draw attention, but it is usually not of the positive variety.

 Try to keep your printed resume as polished as possible by using nice (neutral) paper and a legible font. Of course, many organizations prefer that resumes be submitted electronically, which minimizes the possibility that an applicant will use a gimmick to garner attention.

6. Write a Good Cover Letter

Writing the first cover letter can be difficult, but it is well worth the effort. A well crafted cover letter should complement the skills and experience listed in the resume, and show the hiring manager how those attributes position you for success in the career you are seeking. Be sure to customize the letter for each individual position that you are applying for, paying particular attention to those qualifications that the job advertisement mentioned. It makes sense to keep the general draft of the cover letter on file, updating it on a case by case basis as available positions come up.

Final Word

There are many places to research resume examples to find the format that you are most comfortable with, including online job sites and books at the local library. There is no single “right way” to craft a resume; most of the choices are completely at the discretion of the candidate. Take a look at what’s out there, take an inventory of the skills and experience you might want to include on the resume, and get started on that first draft.