Finding your first real job out of college can be stressful. It takes time and perseverance to scour the search engines and research companies you may want to work for. But before you do any of that, you have to create a resume.
Most hiring managers only spend a few minutes (and sometimes just a few seconds) skimming candidates’ resumes before making a decision. With so little time to get their attention, you need to make sure your resume is eye-catching and concise.
Don’t let your resume go into the “no” pile upon first glance. Follow these seven rules to write a great resume for your first job:
1. Don’t Forget the Basics
Some applicants pay so much attention to the details that they forget the most important information: Make sure your resume includes your full name, full address, and contact information, including your email address.
Does your email address include goofy words, nicknames, or other inappropriate elements? If so, create a new email address to use strictly for job hunting. A professional email address is key if you want to look like a strong candidate.
2. Select the Right Format
The traditional resume format lists your prior jobs in reverse chronological order, but if your most recent jobs don’t relate to the job for which you’re applying, you may want to consider a combination resume instead.
With a combination resume, you put more focus on the skills you’ve acquired than on the jobs you’ve had. This makes a combination resume a great option for recent grads looking for their first full-time jobs.
For example, let’s say you worked as a barista, retail clerk, and campus tour guide in college. Those jobs might not be at all relevant to the job you want, but with a combination resume, you can shift attention onto your valuable experience by highlighting your customer service skills rather than the titles you held.
You’ll also need to decide if you want to include an objective statement or a summary of qualifications. Objective statements are often viewed as outdated, so you may want to opt for a summary of qualifications.
A summary of qualifications is a list of four or five bullet points that focus on your skills, accolades, and experiences. The summary sits at the beginning of your resume, making it an easy way for a hiring manager to get a sense of who you are and what you can do.
3. Include All Relevant Experience and Skills
If you’re a new college grad, don’t discount the importance of academic achievements and volunteer experience. Extracurricular programs may even have a place on your resume, especially if you had a leadership role.
Without a lot of solid job experience under your belt, you’ll want to call attention to any transferable skills you may have. For example, experience as a waiter or waitress can be quite useful if you’re applying for a job in sales or marketing.
It is crucial that you include any relevant information that might help you get the job, but you don’t have to include everything. Remove what isn’t relevant so you can focus on what is.
Most importantly, don’t ever lie or make up experience. If your resume includes experience you don’t have, your secrets are sure to come to light during the interview.
4. Utilize Strong Action Verbs
Your resume should command attention. After all, you want to sound strong, competent, and ready for the task at hand. Using action verbs will help your resume sound convincing and make it stand out.
It’s also important to sprinkle in keywords taken directly from the job description. Having an understanding of industry jargon can help you stand out, and using the right terminology shows your attention to detail.
There is one word you should avoid at all costs: “I.” Instead of writing, “I oversaw a team of six employees,” you can simply write, “Oversaw a team of six employees.”
5. Stick to One Page
Unless you have years of high-level experience, keep your resume to one page. Recruiters and hiring managers review dozens, sometimes hundreds of resumes at a time. You have to get straight to the point.
It’s also crucial that your resume be easy to scan. Critical information, such as your contact information, should be easy to find. Important details should be clearly visible, not buried in lengthy paragraphs.
6. Update Your Social Media Accounts
Make a LinkedIn account and include the URL in your resume. Make sure that your LinkedIn account and resume are consistent in terms of dates, places, and details.
As for your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media accounts, review each one with care. Make your accounts private or remove any inappropriate content that you wouldn’t want a future employer to see.
7. Edit, Edit, Edit
Triple check your resume for unnecessary words, spelling errors, and grammatical mistakes. If you send out a resume riddled with typos, you’ll never get called in for an interview. When you think the document is perfect, ask some trusted relatives, coworkers, or friends to read it and provide their feedback.
If you’re not sure you can craft a perfect resume on your own, you can always hire a professional resume writer. However, no one knows your experience as well as you do, so at least give it a shot.
When you’re ready to apply for that first job, keep these seven resume tips in mind. With a strong, concise resume on hand, you’re sure to land the right job in no time!
Cat Thomas is director of marketing for Broadstone Brickell.