This article was originally written for FirstGenerationStudent.com, now a part of ImFirst.org.
Are you ready to take your first step to landing your dream job, right out of college? Good, and that first step is writing a powerful, persuasive resume.
Think of resumes as a job application on steroids. A resume tells potential employers about your academic and work history—it’s your first sales pitch about you and what you bring to the table, workplace-wise.
A good resume should list your academic background, including your grade point average (but only if it’s above 3.0), and your career objectives. It also should include your capabilities for a given job and your contact information so employers can reach you.
Include your name, address, cell phone number and e-mail address. If you’re on a good social networking site like LinkedIn.com or Twitter, add that contact info as well.
Priority-wise, a list of your top qualifications should make its way to the top of your resume, followed by your academic background.
After that, include a “values proposition” meant to attract targeted employers.“Keep your resume to one page—employers value employees who can communicate clearly and not waste time.”
That section should include a targeted career objective (for example: “I want to spend 20 years in the biosciences sector as a research analyst, specializing in cancer research. Then I want to run my own cancer research company.”). Be honest—employers value straight shooters—and don’t be vague about career objectives. Employers won’t hold it against a 22-year-old who has an ambitious goal but hasn’t yet mapped out every single step on the way to it.
Beyond the basics, what goes into the perfect resume? Think the “Three C’s.” Here’s how:
Clear – Be descriptive with your post-college resume. Use bullet points, and emphasize the following key points—all of which employers value:
- Leadership abilities
- Time management skills
- Communication skills (written and verbal)
- Problem-solving skills
- Analytical and technology skills
Concise – Ideally, keep your resume to one page. Employers value employees who can communicate clearly and not waste time. A concise resume can show you already can express yourself succinctly.
Compelling – Employers want to hear a good story, so make your resume descriptive, without being too self-serving. Your story should include your career objectives (stated concisely), and should highlight areas that make you stand out from the crowd (such as volunteer work, speaking multiple languages, or a valuable and transferable internship experience).
For a good primer on writing the perfect resume, visit the Boston College resume writing web page at http://www.bc.edu/content/bc/offices/careers/jobs/resumes/howto.html.
In addition, this website has a great sample resume for new college graduates (http://www.aie.org/find-a-job/write-your-resume/sample-resumes-and-templates/Resume-Sample-College-Graduate.cfm).
There is a lot of resume writing advice out there on the Internet. Take a look at sample resumes and read articles about resume writing. Here are a few more websites that offer resume and career advice and resources for recent college grads:
- AfterCollege.com (http://www.aftercollege.com/)
- Brazen Careerist (http://www.brazencareerist.com/)
- Monster College (http://college.monster.com/benefits-entry-level-resume/resume-tips-examples/articles/443/category?article_search[keyword]=&article_search[order]=ranking)
- Experience.com (http://www.experience.com/entry-level-jobs/jobs-and-careers/resume-resources/)
There are also a lot of resume writing services out there; they charge anywhere from $20 to hundreds of dollars to write your resume for you. Like everything else, some services are better than others, but there’s no reason you can’t write your own resume. It just takes a bit of research and careful consideration of how to represent yourself on paper.
Make sure you have someone else review your resume; preferably it should be someone who has a good amount of resume experience, like a career counselor at your college or someone who has been working in your chosen career path.